Kevin Nolan made two changes to the team that drew with Swansea City in the Emirates FA Cup.Terry Hawkridge and Carl Dickinson made way for Lewis Alessandra and Dan Jones, while new signings Bennett and Ben Hall took their place on the bench.
It was not to be the start Notts wanted in front of a packed Meadow Lane as the visitors took an early lead. The Magpies were caught short at the back and Adam Collin could only parry Jordan Bowery’s shot into the path of Miller two yards out. He guided the ball into an empty net. Elliott Hewitt blazed an effort over and Miller fired the ball straight at Collin from range as both sides looked for the crucial next goal. Thankfully, it went to Notts – and in sensational style as Husin collected the ball 25 yards out before bending an effort into the top corner. Miller controlled a looping ball on his chest in the area before guiding it over the bar and Jorge Grant curled a free-kick over as the sides continued to exchange blows. It was Notts who were next to strike, their second goal coming in somewhat scrappier circumstances as Jon Stead’s cross from the right flew through a crowd of bodies before reaching Hewitt. He bobbled the ball down into the turf, over the keeper and into the net to complete Notts’ turnaround. Richard Duffy sent the ball inches wide with a diving header and Grant fired over from 25 yards before the referee called time on a topsy-turvy first half for the Magpies.
Alessandra was in the thick of the action after the restart, being denied by a superb last-ditch challenge following Stead’s cross before minutes later skipping away from two men and supplying Shola Ameobi, whose snapshot was saved. Collin palmed away Bowery’s header and Ben Garratt saved from Grant as chances continued to present themselves on a damp afternoon at Meadow Lane, and the next one ended up in the back of Crewe’s net as Hewitt rounded off a superb move involving Grant, Alessandra and Stead – the latter slipping in the ex-Ipswich man to allow him to slam the ball past Garratt for his second of the afternoon. Bennett replaced Ameobi for his Notts debut shortly afterwards and showed his pace when trying to run on to Grant’s lofted ball. It had just too much on it and ran through to the keeper. Miller bobbled an effort wide before Husin, booked minutes earlier for remonstrating with the officials, curled the ball off-target. Shortly after Jones had positioned himself well to divert Callum Ainley’s goalbound header behind, Husin made way for Liam Noble to rapturous applause from the 17,000-strong crowd. Bennett was inches away from turning home Alessandra’s low cross from the right before Stead made way for Alan Smith with two minutes of normal time remaining. There was still time for Bennett to mark his debut with a goal when Garratt couldn’t deal with Alessandra’s cross-cum-shot, palming the ball into the substitute’s path to set up a goal very similar to Crewe’s opener – a tap in from two yards in front of the Kop. Five minutes of added time were indicated, during which Bennett saw a deflected effort crash back off the bar. But there were to be no more goals as Notts ended the day in third place, one point clear of Mansfield in fourth.
Notts County: Collin, Jones, Brisley, Duffy, Hunt, Alessandra, Husin (Noble 78), Hewitt, Grant, Stead (Smith 88), Ameobi (Bennett 61).
Crewe Alexandra: Garratt, Nolan, Raynes, Walker (Kirk 73), Pickering (McKirdy 61), Sterry, Lowery (Barlaser 53), Green, Ainley, Bowery, Miller.