Sam Double Sends Notts Through

Notts County 2-1 Eastleigh (FA Trophy Round Four) 15.01.21

Notts County secured their place in round five of the Buildbase FA trophy at Meadow Lane this past Saturday as the Magpies beat Eastleigh by two goals to one.

Despite a bright start from the hosts in the opening five minutes of play, it was the visitors who took the lead early on. An in-swinging corner from former Chesterfield man Tom Whelan was met at the front post by Harry Pritchard, whose back-heel flick evaded the heads of everyone in black and white shirts and beat Sam Slocombe at his far post to put the Spitfires ahead.

Ben Strevens’ delight over taking the lead early on suddenly vanished just two minutes later as a typical Notts County counterattack saw the Magpies level instantly. A move that started with Frank Vincent concluded with the 22-year-old turning provider once again as a return ball from Kairo Mitchell left the midfielder with the simple task for squaring the ball back across goal, where Elisha Sam was poised and slammed the ball into the back of the Eastleigh net for the equaliser.

Just fifteen minutes before half-time, Eastleigh had the ball in the back of the net, but it was adjudged offside by the linesman. Sam Smart’s cool finish was ruled out as the midfielder began his run a fraction too soon.

The first half concluded with both sides coming close, with Cal Roberts registering the better of the opportunities to put his side ahead. Following his midweek hattrick against Kings Lynn Town, it was no surprise to any of the Notts faithful that the winger was relishing in masses of confidence. Roberts sent a bending free kick towards goal. However, although the strike was clean enough to evade the wall, the ball eventually ended up in the grateful grasp of former Notts County goalkeeper, Joe McDonnell.

The second half began, and the temperature continued to fall. Mist appeared more and more ahead of the floodlights, the same floodlights in which suffered some failures prior to kick-off leading to the referee’s first whistle sounding five minutes later than scheduled.

A real lacklustre second half with both sides failing to break each other down for the best part of it looked nailed on to be heading to extra-time. However, with just three minutes left on the clock, Ian Burchnall’s side took the lead. A surging run from substitute Ruben Rodrigues saw the Portuguese midfielder perform sliding heroics as his tackle turned into a delightful pass into the feet of Elisha Sam, who turned on the sixpence and fired low into the bottom right corner to confirm Notts County’s ball in the next round of the competition.

The Magpies are now just three games away from a trip to Wembley Stadium, could they dare to dream yet? The draw will take place on Monday January 17 as Notts will find out who they will face next, hoping to reduce three games from Wembley to two.

Notts County: Slocombe, Cameron, Rawlinson, Parsons (Richardson 71), Nemane (Taylor 62), Francis, Vincent, Roberts, Sam, Mitchell (Rodrigues 62).

Eastleigh: McDonnell, Hare, Maghoma, Boyce, Kelly, Smart, Hollands (Simpson 90), Whelan, Harper, Pritchard, Hall.

Venue: Meadow Lane

*Article provided by K-Ci Rennicks (Notts County Correspondent).

*Main image @Official_NCFC Eli Sam at the double to send Notts through.

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