Notts County set a new record for the longest unbeaten league run in club history with a brilliant 2-1 win at Solihull Moors on Tuesday night.
The win, which also sees The Magpies return to the top of the National League, was Notts’ 20th unbeaten league game in a row, a run which has included 15 wins and five draws.
After falling behind in the early stages through Callum Maycock, Notts fought back superbly and turned the tide with two penalties from Ruben Rodrigues.
The result leaves The Magpies three points clear of Wrexham at the top of the National League, although the Welsh side do have two games in hand.
Luke Williams made two changes to the team that defeated Halifax Town at Meadow Lane on Saturday, with Geraldo Bajrami and Cedwyn Scott returning to the starting eleven in place of Jim O’Brien and Sam Austin, who both dropped to the bench.
A quiet opening period eventually saw The Moors have the first real effort on goal in the 14th minute. Notts allowed Justin Donawa to drift inside from the left flank and strike on goal from the edge of the area, fortunately for The Magpies it was a tame strike and rolled safely into the gloves of Sam Slocombe.
Notts would create their first chance of the game just four minutes later, as good work from Aaron Nemane down the right flank saw Cedwyn Scott square for Macaulay Langstaff, but Notts’ top scorer was unable to divert the ball goalward on the stretch.
Solihull took the lead in the 23rd minute, when Kyle Cameron had his pocket picked on the halfway line by Callum Maycock, allowing Andrew Dallas to break away down the right wing. Dallas cut the ball back for the onrushing Maycock, who rolled the ball past Slocombe and into the corner from around six yards out.
The game continued with few clear-cut chances for either side. Bajrami saw his speculative shot from the edge of the area held comfortably by Ryan Boot in the Solihull goal, before Dallas saw an effort blocked at the opposite end in the following minutes.
The visitors were handed a way back into the game in the 36th minute as referee Robert Massey-Ellis pointed to the spot after Scott was brought down in the area by James Clarke, who was shown a yellow card for the challenge.
Ruben Rodrigues stepped up and coolly rolled the ball into the bottom left corner to draw The Magpies level with his tenth league goal of the season.
There would, however, be a big chance for the hosts to restore their lead just before the break. In the 44th minute, David Davis’ lofted through ball opened up the Notts defence and set Dallas through on goal. However, the Scotsman could only drag his effort wide of Slocombe’s left post.
With no changes for either side at the break, the second half began almost identically to the ending of the first, as The Magpies survived another big scare in the first minute of the half. Dallas once again broke the Notts offside trap, but this time was forced wide by the onrushing Slocombe before the ball eventually ran out for a Notts goal kick.
Notts would have their own 1-on-1 chance just two minutes later though, as Langstaff pulled his effort inches wide from the inside right channel after being laid through on goal by Rodrigues.
From here, Luke Williams’ side started to turn the tide, Kyle Cameron was next to go close, as his effort was superbly cleared off the line by Donawa in the 63rd minute.
Williams was the first manager to blink and made a double change in the 64th minute as Bajrami and Scott were replaced by new-boy Jodi Jones and the experienced John Bostock.
Moors gaffer Neal Ardley followed just five minutes later, with Josh Kelly and Joe Sbarra replacing Dallas and Mark Beck, in a bid to provide more pace to stretch the Notts backline.
The introduction of Bostock solidified the visitors’ control in midfield and with Solihull struggling to get out of their half, the pressure was building.
The game’s defining moment came in the 80th minute, when a clever short-corner from Rodrigues resulted in Matty Palmer being fouled at the by-line and Massey-Ellis pointing to the spot once again.
Rodrigues stepped up and hammered the ball into the roof of the net to spark jubilant scenes among the approximately 900 travelling Magpies behind the goal.
Now ahead for the first time, The Magpies managed the game well in the late stages, repelling the majority of Solihull’s balls into the box with ease.
The final chance for the hosts to snatch a late point fell to substitute Kelly in the second of five added minutes, but the striker could only loop a header harmlessly wide of Slocombe’s goal from Donawa’s cross.
Further attacks came from the Moors in the final stages, but Notts held firm to seal a crucial victory and put the pressure back on Wrexham once again.
*Article provided by Evan Shaw (Notts County Correspondent).
*Main image @Official_NCFC Ruben Rodrigues scores from the spot v Solihull.