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Notts County 0 Accrington Stanley 0: FA Cup report

Reds stand firm away to League One outfit to earn first-round replay

Marcus Carver sent this late chance wide but was flagged offside anyway(Image: kipax.com)

Notts County did themselves proud on a poignant Remembrance Sunday.

Naturally, a minute's silence was held at Meadow Lane, but the club's guest of honour was Ralph McClure, a World War II veteran who's had a season ticket for 85 years.

Stewart Hill, who led the 2 Mercian Regiment, also gave an inspirational speech, not only remembering the soldiers of his who died in Afghanistan but also those that perished from the Accrington Pals battalion.

The game itself was one which most of the spectators will have forgotten by the time they got home.

It was not for the want of trying. Stanley harried the hosts in the first half, repeatedly winning the ball back and threatening on the break.

And although Notts were much improved after the break, putting the Reds on the back foot for long periods, Stanley stood firm and neither side did enough to claim they deserved to book their place in the second round.

“There wasn't much in the game,” admitted Reds boss John Coleman. “I think both sides looked a bit edgy.

“I'd have liked us to have been a bit more of an attacking threat. We had a couple of half-chances but didn't really create a lot.

“It was as if we set out to contain them and we didn't. We couldn't seem to get our attacking flow going.”

While Coleman expected more going forward, he was forced into two attacking changes with in-form loanees John O'Sullivan and Sean Maguire not given permission to play.

The local newspaper also said his team were 'perhaps the most organised' to visit Meadow Lane this season. Given the Magpies are flying high in League One, that's cause for optimism ahead of next Tuesday's replay in Accrington.

Stanley were certainly the most positive side early on. A poor clearance by Roy Carroll fell to Shay McCartan, who sent a first-time volley just wide from 30 yards with the veteran keeper out of goal.

A Stanley break then saw McCartan run half the length of the pitch before his low cross was cut out by Gary Jones. McCartan also got away a 20-yard strike which was easy for Carroll. It proved to be the Reds' only shot on target.

The hosts then settled and a neat move down the right between Mustapha Dumbuya and winger Zeli Ismail created a shooting opportunity for Jones, whose first effort was blocked by Tom Aldred before the ex-Rochdale midfielder fired just wide from the loose ball.

The Reds replied with Lee Molyneux picking out Josh Windass in the right channel and he held off his man before clipping the ball just over the bar.

Notts then began to make inroads into the Accy defence, with striker Ronan Murray volleying wide at the near post from Ismail's cross.

Another Jones shot was blocked, looping towards the six-yard box, and although Ismail outjumped Jack Rose, making his senior debut in the Stanley goal, his header went just wide.

Rose, signed on loan from West Brom on Friday, dealt with 20-yard strikes by Murray and Liam Noble much more confidently while Ismail blazed wide from a tight angle.

With Nicky Hunt suspended, Michael Liddle made his long-awaited return from injury and showed tenacity to dispossess Dumbuya deep down the Stanley left before crossing for Windass, who failed to connect while attempting an ambitious volley.

Kicking towards the Kop Stand in the second half, Notts came out determined to get the job done and avoid a replay.

Michael Petrasso's cut-back found Murray and his close-range effort was blocked by Liddle. Aldred was then booked for pulling Murray back, although Noble's free-kick went out for a goal-kick.

Moments later Garry Thompson fired over from Noble's pass before Petrasso, who had switched to the right wing, cut in before firing too close to Rose.

Kal Naismith came on for his first appearance since returning from compassionate leave and accepted a short corner from Molyneux before Molyneux's cross was headed behind. The next corner was poked wide by Andy Procter at the near post.

With the home crowd becoming increasingly frustrated and the game now stretched, Stanley sensed the chance to nick a winner and Luke Joyce blazed over from McCartan's lay-off.

James Gray then had a shot blocked and although substitute Marcus Carver fired the loose ball over, his blushes were spared by an offside flag.

The nearest either side went to winning it in stoppage time was when Thompson curled his effort just wide of the far post and the final whistle brought boos from the County fans. One defeat in 13 and sixth in the table – many clubs would like their problems.

Stanley: Rose 7, Winnard 7, Aldred 8, Atkinson 8, Liddle 8, Windass 7 (Naismith 68, 6), Joyce 7, Procter 8, Molyneux 7 (Carver 77), McCartan 8 (Roddan 86), Gray 6. Subs: Hatfield, Mingoia, Steenson, Simpson. Attendance: 3,661 (157 away)