Notts County 4 Doncaster Rovers 2

Steve Chettle named a strong team, with Ross Fitzsimons starting behind a back four of Dan Jones, Shaun Brisley, Richard Duffy and Terry Hawkridge. Nathan Thomas and Will Patching played down the flanks, with Elliott Hewitt and captain Rob Milsom in central midfield. Boldewijn partnered Dennis up front.

Notts needed to win by two clear goals to progress to the knockout stage and applied some early pressure on their Sky Bet League One visitors, Dennis and Thomas seeing shots blocked before the latter lashed one just wide minutes later. The Magpies didn’t have to wait much longer for the breakthrough as Dennis nodded the ball home from inside the six yard box following a corner. Alfie May squandered a golden opportunity to equalise almost immediately, wriggling into the area before seeing his low shot well saved by Fitzsimons, before Will Longbottom nodded the ball harmlessly at the keeper moments later. Excellent work by Boldewijn then presented Duffy with a shooting opportunity on the edge of the area but the defender’s scuffed first-time effort was blocked by a Donny man. It was an open affair and Matty Blair fizzed a low effort narrowly wide as Rovers looked to haul themselves level on 21 minutes. Danny Amos rattled a volley off the cross bar and Alfie Beestin bounced the ball wide on the follow up as the Magpies survived another scare. Hearts were in mouths again seconds later when Duffy didn’t get enough pace on his header to deliver the ball safely to Fitzsimons, allowing May to scamper on to the loose ball in the area. The keeper was out quickly to make the save. Doncaster were ruing their missed opportunities when Thomas played a superb ball into the left-hand channel for Dennis, who crossed for the unmarked Boldewijn to bobble the ball over Ian Lawlor in the Rovers net. The visitors passed up another golden opportunity to find the net with 32 minutes on the clock, Ali Crawford fluffing his header wide when picked out perfectly six yards out. Crawford had another opportunity shortly afterwards, controlling the ball superbly in the area before firing it straight at Fitzsimons on the spin. The visitors’ frustrations were compounded further when Dennis nodded home a third from Milsom’s cross before the interval.

Rovers boss Grant McCann made two changes at the break, sending Mallik Wilks and Niall Mason on for Jermaine Anderson and Shaun Cummings and the visitors had a sniff of goal shortly after the restart, May racing on to a long ball over the top. His first touch narrowed the angle for himself, though, and he could only fire the ball straight at Fitzsimons. May made amends moments later though, lashing home a right-footed volley at the back post to make it 3-1. The speedy striker turned provider shortly before the hour, supplying Mason on the edge of the area. The substitute miscued his effort horribly, sending the ball wide of Fitzsimons’ post. May was proving to be a thorn in Notts’ side and toepoked another effort wide after twisting and turning his way into the area following an ill-advised Patching backheel in midfield. Chances had been few and far between for Chettle’s men after the break but they nearly had a fourth goal when Boldewijn did well to set up Hewitt on the edge of the box. Beestin raced out to make a crucial block. Notts didn’t have to wait much longer, though, as Duffy was hauled down by Tom Anderson at the subsequent corner, allowing Dennis to stroke the ball home from the spot for his hat-trick. Boldewijn made way for Andy Kellett after the celebrations died down – but there was no sign of the goalmouth action ebbing away as Rovers pulled another one back. May was at it again, seeing his header from Wilks’ pinpoint cross deflect off Jones and over the line despite the best last-ditch efforts of Duffy. Tom Crawford was the next man thrown unto the breach, replacing Patching, before Fitzsimons held on to Wilks’ fierce shot after the forward had made a surging run down the right. Chettle’s final change came with 10 minutes to play as Milsom made way for Cedric Evina, who slotted in down the left wing. One goal for Doncaster would have seen them progress at Notts’ expense and they came close twice before six minutes were added on, Wilks drawing a strong save from Fitzsimons before May somehow guided a right-wing cross wide. Notts saw out the rest of the game to record an impressive win, despite May firing just wide with the last kick of the evening.

Notts County: Fitzsimons, Hawkridge, Brisley, Duffy, Jones, Patching (Crawford 74), Hewitt, Milsom, (Evina 81) Thomas, Boldewijn (Kellett 64), Dennis.

Booked: Milsom.

Doncaster Rovers: Lawlor, Cummings (Mason 45), Blaney, Anderson, Amos, Blair, Anderson (Wilks 45), Crawford, Longbottom, May, Beestin.

Booked: Wilks.

Images And Content Copyright Notts County FC & Notts County Info. Thanks to Notts County for their kind permission to reproduce their content.