Notts manager Kevin Nolan made six changes to the team which lost 1-0 at Accrington on Easter Monday as Shaun Brisley, Dan Jones, Elliott Hewitt, Liam Noble, Jorge Grant and Ameobi all came into the starting line-up at the expense of Ben Hall, Carl Dickinson, Noor Husin, Rob Milsom, Liam Walker and Lewis Alessandra.
The opening 20 minutes of the game passed without incident as both sides held firm at the back, giving little away to one another. But it was Notts who would have the first chance as Grant fired wide from 12 yards after collecting Ameobi’s lay-off before Coventry defender Rod McDonald fired high and wide at the other end. Tom Bayliss saw a shot deflected wide for the visitors and McDonald was wildly off target with a volley as clear-cut chances came at a premium during an attritional first half. Coventry’s 21-goal striker Marc McNulty almost found himself one-on-one with Adam Collin but his first touch let him down and the ball ran through the goalkeeper with both sides struggling to make inroads in the final third. A clipped pass forward found Jonathan Forte haring away and the striker made enough room to get a shot away but it lacked sufficient power to cause any trouble to Coventry stopper Lee Burge, who gathered comfortably. Coventry striker Max Biamou fired a warning shot from 25 yards which flashed over the crossbar with the final chance of the half and talked his way in to the referee’s notebook as the teams left the field for half-time. Not willing to risk a second yellow card for the Frenchman, City boss Mark Robins replaced him with Jonson Clarke-Harris during the break following a goalless first 45 minutes.
As with the first half, it was the Magpies who threatened to open the scoring with Burge forced into action by Forte’s powerfully-struck effort in the opening minute. There was a flashpoint soon afterwards as Noble and Coventry captain Michael Doyle tangled in the middle of the park, leading to a fracas between both sides. Noble, Ameobi and McDonald were all booked for their part in the incident. The chaotic nature of the game led to a raucous atmosphere inside Meadow Lane and the roof almost came off the stadium when County opened the scoring on the hour. Grant’s corner was met by Forte, who expertly guided his header in to the bottom corner to put the Magpies ahead with his seventh goal of the season. Nolan’s men were in the ascendancy and were the width of a post away from doubling the advantage as Grant’s shot cannoned back off the woodwork with Coventry on the ropes. The Sky Blues responded, however, as half-time substitute Clarke-Harris saw a free-kick deflect narrowly wide of the target from 25 yards out. Notts captain Michael O’Connor was brought on with 10 minutes remaining, replacing Noble for his first home appearance since suffering a serious knee injury against Portsmouth on 17 April 2017. Ameobi came close to scoring a second for the home team, volleying wide after the visitors failed to clear a corner and Notts were made to pay as Coventry found an equalising goal with five minutes remaining. Collin pulled off a fine save amid a scramble inside the Notts penalty area but, despite some heroic defending, the back line could not clear and Ponticelli‘s flick crept agonisingly in to the bottom corner to get City back on level terms. But parity lasted barely 90 seconds as Notts immediately went up the other end of the field and re-took the lead. Ameobi burst away from his marker and his low cross was turned in by Forte from eight yards out for his second of the afternoon to send Meadow Lane delirious. Despite incessant pressure from the visitors in the five minutes added on by the officials, the defence stood firm to hold out for a vital victory.
Notts County: Collin, Tootle, Duffy, Brisley, Jones, Virtue, Hewitt, Noble (O’Connor 79), Grant, Ameobi (Hall 92), Forte.
Booked: Noble, Ameobi.
Coventry City: Burge, Grimmer, McDonald, Davies, Stokes, Bayliss (Ponticelli 76), Doyle, Kelly, Shipley (Barrett 82), McNulty, Biamou (Clarke-Harris).
Booked: Burge, McDonald, Bayliss, Biamou.