The clash between Notts County and Chesterfield showcased a rollercoaster of emotions for both teams and the fans. The Magpies twice fought back from behind, drawing level at 2-2 after 120 minutes of intense play
In a captivating Vanarama National League Promotion Final, Notts County secured their promotion to League Two with a dramatic 4-3 penalty shootout win over Chesterfield at Wembley. This victory sets the stage for an exciting renewal of their historic rivalry with Wrexham in the upcoming season. Let’s delve into the thrilling match that marked the end of Notts County’s four-year exile from the Football League.
A Rollercoaster of Emotions at Wembley
The clash between Notts County and Chesterfield showcased a rollercoaster of emotions for both teams and the fans. The Magpies twice fought back from behind, drawing level at 2-2 after 120 minutes of intense play in front of a massive crowd of 38,000 spectators. Cedwyn Scott emerged as the hero for Notts County, scoring the winning penalty that sealed their long-awaited promotion.
Substitute Goalkeeper Archie Mair’s Heroics
The match witnessed a pivotal moment of brilliance from substitute goalkeeper Archie Mair, who was brought on with just 30 seconds remaining in the contest. Mair showcased nerves of steel and saved two penalties in the shootout, ensuring victory for Notts County. His exceptional performance saved the blushes of John Bostock, the former wonder boy of Crystal Palace and Tottenham, whose Panenka-style penalty had hit the crossbar earlier.
The Right Result for the Neutrals
For neutral observers, the outcome of the match seemed fair, considering Notts County’s remarkable achievements throughout the season. With an impressive tally of 107 points and 117 goals, they narrowly missed out on automatic promotion to Wrexham. Although Wrexham’s Hollywood duo, Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney, were absent from the national stadium, the stage is set for an exciting clash between these two football powerhouses in League Two.
Honoring the Late CEO Jason Turner
The triumph at Wembley held a poignant significance for Notts County as it came shortly after the funeral of their CEO, Jason Turner, who tragically passed away in March. The memory of Turner loomed large throughout the match, with his image displayed prominently in the stadium and the dugout. The team dedicated their hard-fought victory to the late CEO, further amplifying the emotional undertones of the occasion.
A Nightmare Start for County
Notts County’s journey to promotion did not begin smoothly as goalkeeper Sam Slocombe endured a nightmare start to the game. Within the first two minutes, Slocombe committed a foul inside his penalty area, resulting in an indirect free-kick for Chesterfield. Fortunately for Notts County, the opposition failed to capitalize on the opportunity. However, a few minutes later, Slocombe conceded a penalty, bringing down Andrew Dallas and allowing Chesterfield to take the lead.
A Display of Resilience
Despite the early setback, Notts County displayed remarkable resilience and gradually found their rhythm. They weathered a series of attacks from Chesterfield, who exploited the defensive vulnerabilities of County’s right wing-back, Aaron Nemane. On the 87th minute, John Bostock seized an opportunity and scored an equalizer, capitalizing on a goalkeeping error. The match required extra time, mirroring the intensity of the previous semifinals.
Dobra’s Brilliance and Penalty Drama
Three minutes into extra time, Armando Dobra delivered a sublime strike, guiding the ball beyond Slocombe’s reach. The goal showcased the young player’s exceptional skill and provided a pivotal moment in the match. Macaulay
Langstaff, known for his predatory instincts in front of goal, had a relatively quiet day due to a lack of service and quality crosses from the flanks. On the other side, Chesterfield captain Jamie Grimes played a crucial role in marshaling his team’s defense, despite being accidentally injured during the pitch invasion that followed their semifinal win over Bromley.
In a heart-stopping moment, Langstaff had an opportunity to make his mark during extra time but scuffed his strike, resulting in the ball bouncing wide. However, it was Ruben Rodrigues who stepped up for Notts County, calmly converting a scuffed shot that bounced into the turf and over Chesterfield’s goalkeeper, Ross Fitzsimons, to send the match into a nerve-wracking penalty shootout.
A Hollywood-Style Ending
Deciding the promotion in a penalty shootout seemed like a cruel fate for both sides after such an intense and hard-fought contest. However, for Notts County, who had finished in the shadow of Wrexham throughout the season, it turned out to be a Hollywood-style ending. The players, staff, and fans celebrated with immense joy as they secured their place in League Two.
Notts County’s promotion to League Two after a thrilling penalty shootout victory over Chesterfield marked the end of their four-year absence from the Football League. The match was filled with ups and downs, showcasing the team’s resilience and determination. With the rivalry against Wrexham set to reignite in the upcoming season, Notts County’s triumph at Wembley provided a fitting tribute to their late CEO, Jason Turner. The club can now look forward to competing in the fourth tier of English football, ready to make their mark once again.