The manager made one change to the side that won at Wycombe Wanderers last weekend, the absent Michael O’Connor making way for Adam Campbell in midfield. The change saw Elliott Hewitt take up a central midfield berth alongside Rob Milsom, with Campbell and Jorge Grant providing the width.
All the early pressure came from Notts, Campbell sending a shot bobbling off target before Jon Stead went wide with an inventive overhead kick. And Notts thought another early opportunity had come to nothing on eight minutes when, after Ameobi had laid the ball back for Stead in the area, the former Newcastle man diverted his strike partner’s effort on to the bar. Hollis was first on the scene, however, nodding the ball into the corner to give the Magpies their dream start. The hosts were playing with confidence and nearly had an exquisite second goal on 12 minutes when the ball flicked up off Stead and Grant acrobatically directed it straight at visiting keeper Sam Walker. Grant had another half-chance shortly afterwards when Ameobi picked him out with a crossfield ball and his first touch took him on to his left foot 20 yards out. A defender came across to block the loanee’s effort. Notts’ play-off chasing opponents were struggling to get a grip on the game in the early stages but clawed their way back into the contest thanks to a moment of brilliance from Porter. The U’s skipper cut into the area from the right and bent the ball superbly across goal and into the far corner. The Magpies, determined not to let the balance of play swing in the visitors’ favour, almost had a 29th-minute equaliser when Grant fired the ball a foot wide of the far post following Ameobi’s perfectly weighted knock down. A succession of bookings followed, George Elokobi for a lunge on Elliott Hewitt and Rob Milsom for a foul on Porter. Notts were playing the match at a frantic pace and deservedly retook the lead after another incredible spot of pinball in the Colchester area. It started with some lovely interplay between Stead and Ameobi which sent Grant dancing into the area. The midfielder sold his defender a dummy and looked certain to guide the ball past Sam Walker. His shot lacked power, however, and the keeper got down to his right to palm it away from goal. Campbell picked up the scraps and saw his attempted cross half-cleared to Hewitt outside the area. The former Ipswich man controlled the ball on his chest and unleashed a stinging drive towards goal. A Colchester defender managed to get in the way but, in stunning fashion, Ameobi guided the ball home with a left-footed volley from the edge of the box. Three minutes were added on at the end of the half and Notts came agonisingly close to scoring again through Stead. Campbell supplied the forward, who left two defenders on their backside with a feigned shot before stroking the ball towards the bottom corner. Walker did brilliantly to keep his side in it going into the interval.
Colchester made a change at half-time, sending on Matthew Briggs in place of Cameon James. But it was Notts who were back on the front foot, beginning the second half the way the first ended – with a chance for Stead. Grant did brilliantly to wriggle into the area and supply Stead inside the six yard box but the former Sheffield United man could only turn the ball wide. Hollis required treatment on a bloodied nose but was deemed fit to continue. And Notts maintained control of the game right up until the 74th minute, when they extended their lead. Grant provided a superb cross from a free-kick and Ameobi rose highest in the centre to nod the ball gracefully home. Milsom hit the post after a neat lay-off from the impressive Ameobi as Nolan’s men looked to put the game firmly to bed. Tarique Fosu sent the ball well over with a shot from range by way of response, shortly before Grant flashed a volley a couple of yards wide from just inside the area. Grant was denied once again shortly afterwards, firing a bouncing ball straight at Walker from a tight angle. Alan Smith replaced Hewitt and was followed on to the field by debutant Alex Howes shortly afterwards. Tahvon Campbell also came on, with Stead and Adam Campbell making way. Four minutes were added on at the end of the match but Colchester were unable to claw their way back into the game as Notts continued their fine form.
Notts County: Collin, Tootle, Duffy, Hollis, Dickinson, Campbell A (Campbell T 92), Hewitt (Smith 90), Milsom, Grant, Ameobi, Stead (Howes 93).
Colchester: Walker, James (Briggs 45), Elokobi, Eastman, Brindley, Lapsile (Bonne 77), Murray, Wright, Dickenson,Porter, Pyke (Fosu 77).