Havant & Waterlooville 2-2 Notts County *2-4 on pens (FA Trophy Round Five) 06.02.21
Notts County are still eyeing a return to Wembley Stadium after a dramatic penalty shootout win over Havant & Waterlooville in the fifth round of the Buildbase FA Trophy sends Neal Ardley’s side to the Quarter Finals of the competition for the second successive season.
In a much-changed team to usual league proceedings which has been the way of the Manager in the cups this season, Jordan Barnett made his debut as Notts took on opposition from the league below who had themselves been without a fixture for almost three weeks following a number of league related issues caused by the financial implications of covid-19. The National League South continuation has been cast in doubt recently with clubs refusing to play, as too has the National League itself, but the FA Trophy still goes on with Notts now at the business end of the competition with an eye on a Wembley final too.
Notts who lost in last season’s semi-final against Harrogate Town were quick off the blocks as Matty Wolfe gave the Magpies the lead after just 14 minutes, poaching home following good work from Mansfield loanee Jimmy Knowles. The home side however levelled after 33 minutes when Tommy Wright took advantage of a quickly taken free kick to cut inside and slot home under the goalkeeper left footed.
Chicksen went close on two occasions for Notts before half time but the two sides went in level at the break before Frenchman Bedsente Gomis netted just three minutes into the second half, heading home to give the home side the lead and chance of an upset.
Knowles went close to levelling up the other end before Notts were awarded a penalty on 70 minutes and a red card for the hosts which helped the Magpies back into the game as Jones hauled down young Tyreace Palmer when running through on goal. Jimmy Knowles making no mistake from the spot to put the tie all square again.
Chances came for both sides before further drama just four minutes from time lead to another sending off which levelled things at ten each, as Palmer saw red for Notts after a second yellow card following a foul on the Havant & Waterlooville goalkeeper and with minutes left, Barnett struck wide and Rodrigues fluffed his lines on what would have been a late winner for County in normal time.
But with the scores tied on ninety, penalties would decide the day with no extra half hour needed, straight to a shootout instead and it didn’t start great for Notts as O’Brien hit a post.
Luke Pilling saving from Robson ensured the Hawks didn’t take full advantage and as Jimmy Knowles netted his second spot kick of the day to put Notts 1-0 up in the shootout, the next four were all scored before Williams saw his effort saved by Pilling which left Brindley needing to score to see Notts through, the full back dually obliged to end a cracking game which had everything plus the perfect result.
Notts through, attention now lies with unfinished business in the league, whether they can get the league finished, is now a serious question being asked. For now though time to celebrate, a win on penalties sends Notts just two victories away from returning to Wembley. The draw for the Quarter Finals on Monday afternoon, with Notts now to face one of Woking, Aldershot or Chesterfield, Darlington, Hereford, Torquay, Oxford City or Hornchurch as they look to go one better (at least) than last seasons efforts.
Havant & Waterlooville: Tupper, Poku (Williams 30), Magri, Taylor, Clifford, Robson, Gomis, Wright, Deacon, McLennan, Jones.
Notts County: Pilling, Brindley, Turner, O’Brien, Barnett, Wolfe, Knowles, Sam (Palmer 64), Chicksen (Rodrigues 64), Lacey, Miller (Boldewijn 64).
Venue: The Westleigh
*Main image @Official_NCFC celebrations for Notts as Matty Wolfe opens the scoring.