Match report: Notts County 2 Nottingham Forest 2
THIS was quite an encore in the end.
Almost exactly a year after the dramatic League Cup tie at the City Ground, Nottingham Forest and Notts County drew 2-2 in a thrilling pre-season friendly at Meadow Lane last night.
The Reds swept into a 2-0 lead in the first half with two goals in four minutes, but the Magpies hit back with two in three minutes in the second half.
David McGoldrick, a graduate of the youth system at Meadow Lane, fired Forest ahead and Lewis McGugan doubled their lead from the penalty spot.
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But Notts staged a remarkable comeback in the opening stages of the second half.
Alan Judge scored a stunning free-kick on 53 minutes and Yoann Arquin netted his first goal for the Magpies on 56 minutes.
Lee Hughes notably returned to spearhead the Notts attack, after missing their abandoned friendly against AEK Athens two days earlier with a slight injury, and he was flanked by Judge and Jeff Hughes, their 17-goal leading scorer last season, who were once again given attacking roles.
Those three were faced with a Forest defence comprising Jamaal Lascelles, who had hours earlier signed a new four-year deal at the City Ground, new signings Danny Collins and Greg Halford and Brendan Moloney, a player once on loan with the Magpies.
After coming off the subs' bench to score twice against Aston Villa, McGugan started in midfield for the Reds.
The Magpies began well and quickly put Forest under pressure in the opening stages.
Judge seized on to a lay-off by Lee Hughes and struck a shot that hit Lascelles and deflected wide of Lee Camp's right-hand post. Moments later Notts left-back Alan Sheehan swung a cross into the penalty area that was measured magnificently for Lee Hughes.
He controlled it on his chest and hit a low shot on the turn, but Collins was there to block it and the ball spun wide.
Sheehan then curled a shot well wide of Camp's left-hand post, after cutting too easily inside Robbie Findley, on seven minutes.
Findley soon atoned for his defensive lapse, however, as Forest scored twice in four minutes to take a 2-0 lead.
First, he created their opening goal on ten minutes, racing onto a flick on by Marcus Tudgay down the right and squaring the ball to the unmarked McGoldrick, who side-footed simply past Magpies' goalkeeper Bartosz Bialkowski from eight yards.
Findley was at it again soon after. Once again he used his electric pace to seize onto a through-ball and this time he was brought down in the box by Hamza Bencherif. McGugan swept the penalty into the bottom-left corner of the net.
Forest led 2-0 and their 4,000-plus fans in the Jimmy Sirrel chanted 'easy, easy'. They were right. Forest had so devastatingly exposed a lack of pace in the heart of the Magpies defence.
Forest threatened to score a third goal on 42 minutes when McGoldrick strode forward unchallenged and smashed a powerful shot at goal from 30 yards that Bialkowski parried away.
Having started the game so promisingly, the Magpies, in stark contrast, did not test Camp once.
The ball fell invitingly to Sheehan inside the penalty area on 40 minutes and he struck it well, but it flashed across the face of goal and wide of the left-hand post.
Both sides made four changes at the start of the second half and one of Forest's subs, Kieron Fenton, went close to scoring with his first touch, but lifted a shot over the bar from inside the box on 49 minutes.
Notts then came to life, scoring twice in three minutes to level the game.
Judge curled a superb free-kick past the Reds' substitute goalkeeper Karl Darlow from 20 yards to reduce their deficit and then Arquin smashed a superb shot low into the bottom-left corner of the net from inside the box.
Having looked beaten at half-time, Notts were suddenly level and on top and Lee Hughes tested Darlow with a shot from 20 yards on 61 minutes, after holding off a challenge from Lascelles.
Arquin also stung his palms with a fierce long-range strike on 67 minutes.
The game was on a knife edge as it went into the closing stages.
There were few more opportunities created, however, though Arquin had a half-chance on 84 minutes when Enoch Showunmi hooked the ball back across the box from the byline, but the young French striker lifted the ball into the Kop.
Notts also poured forward in injury time. Arquin played a through-ball for Showunmi to seize onto and he looked set to race into the box until Simon Gillett tripped him.
There was no extra-time, no penalties this time, like there was in the Cup tie that Forest won last August, but all inside Meadow Lane would have liked there to have been.
NOTTS: Bialkowski (Spiess, 81), Regan (Boucaud, 76), Williams, Bencherif (Smith, 46), Sheehan, Bishop, Liddle (Labadie, 46), Mahon (Zoko, 46 (Fuentes, 73)), J Hughes (Arquin, 46), Judge (Kelly, 62), L Hughes (Showunmi, 66).
FOREST: Camp (Darlow, 46), Halford (Gillett, 46), Lascelles, Collins (Fenton, 46), Moloney, Findley (Derbyshire, 46), Moussi, McGugan (Reid, 67), Greening (Moussa, 67), McGoldrick (Guedioura, 67), Tudgay. Subs: Darlow, Blackstock.
ATTENDANCE: 7,932 (4,143 away).