Kevin Nolan named an unchanged side to the one that drew at Carlisle in Notts’ last league game.
That meant Elliott Hewitt partnered Ryan Yates in midfield, while Carl Dickinson retained his place at left back despite the return of Dan Jones, who had to settle for a place on the bench.
Notts’ first chance fell to Hewitt on 11 minutes, the midfielder receiving the ball on the edge of the area but side-footing it wide. Newport’s response came from Butler, who struck the ball sweetly through a crowd of bodies but straight at Ross Fitzsimons, who held on well. Jon Stead nodded the ball wide and Terry Hawkridge volleyed over as half-chances came and went. But an edgy, tight encounter was punctured on 33 minutes when Butler was shown a straight red card after leading with his arm when challenging Matt Tootle in the air, leaving the full back requiring lengthy treatment. Notts capitalised on their man advantage immediately, Stead rolling the ball into space for Grant to stride into before calmly rolling the ball home. Notts nearly made it two shortly before the break, Hewitt seeing an effort saved following a corner before Richard Duffy’s strong penalty appeal was waved away when he went down under a challenge in the immediate aftermath. 1-0 was how it stayed going into the break.
Notts wasted no time in doubling their lead after the restart. Yates’ crunching challenge freed the ball up for Grant, who crossed for Ameobi to fire into the top corner. And, minutes later, it was three, Tootle crossed the ball for Grant who, after seeing his initial effort saved by Newport keeper Joe Day, nodded the ball home on the rebound. Tootle entered the referee’s notebook for a foul on Nouble, who himself had been booked earlier in the half. And Newport’s Micky Demitriou was next to be cautioned after illegally halting Stead. Notts were pushing for a fourth and came close on numerous occasions. Shaun Brisley saw an effort smothered at the near post and a defender blocked Yates’ effort on the rebound. From the resultant corner, Yates sent the ball wide from six yards and, moments later, Stead’s shot from Tootle’s cross was gathered by Day. Duffy saw yellow for a foul on Newport substitute Shawn McCoulsky moments after Brisley had inadvertently blocked Hewitt’s low effort. Stead saw a looping header pushed over the bar by Day as Notts continued their relentless assault on the visitors’ goal. Grant came agonisingly close to completing his hat-trick when his free-kick from inside the ‘D’ crashed off the crossbar. Stead nodded the ball narrowly wide on the follow-up. A double substitution followed, Tootle and Duffy making way for Nicky Hunt and Liam Walker with 10 minutes to play. Hewitt slotted in at centre back. Hunt nearly became an unlikely scorer when he showed nice feet to work space for a shot 22 yards out before striking the ball a yard wide of the post. Nolan’s final change saw Jonathan Forte replace Stead shortly before Man of the Match Ameobi rolled the ball just wide of the post from the edge of the area. It was Forte’s turn moments later as he received the ball from Walker in the area before seeing his snapshot blocked by a defender. Three minutes were added on at the end of the match, during which Walker curled a long-range effort inches wide and Ameobi’s sprawling volley was turned behind for a corner. But 3-0 was how it stayed as Notts reclaimed top spot.
Notts County: Fitzsimons, Tootle (Hunt 80), Duffy (Walker 79), Brisley, Dickinson, Hawkridge, Yates, Hewitt, Grant, Ameobi, Stead (Forte84).
Booked: Tootle, Duffy.
Newport County: Day, White, Rigg (Barnham-Bodd 45), Demetriou, Willmott, Tozer, Bennett, Dolan, Butler, Nouble (Reynolds 73), Amond (McCoulsky 45).
Booked: Demetriou, Nouble.
Sent Off: Butler.