Notts County reclaimed their status as the “oldest football league club in the world” before beating Chesterfield on penalties in a stunning National League promotion final at Wembley.
Substitute goalkeeper Archie Meyer, who came on for Sam Slocombe in the 120th minute, made a crucial save from Darren before Sedwin Scott sealed a dramatic 4-3 penalty shoot-out Penalties for Aldek and Jeff King.
The 161-year-old Magpies were founding members of the Rugby League in 1888 and their victory ended their four-year non-league exile, while the defeat sent Chesterfield to a sixth season in the National League.
In the second half of extra time, Ruben Rodriguez volleyed across the lawn and past goalkeeper Ross Fitzsimmons to level the score at 2-2 to secure the tiebreaker.
Armando Dobra’s curling finish restored Chesterfield’s lead with 15 extra minutes to go in the first period after a fine game ended 1-1 at the end of normal time.
Notts keeper Slocombe’s poor start – the Magpies defended a rare indirect free-kick inside the box just two minutes later – cost them dearly as his challenge on Andrew Dallas made it The striker put Chesterfield ahead from the spot.
The Spireites had Notts scrambling for contact at half-time as the side, which won a club-record 32 league games during the regular season, struggled to respond meaningfully.
Sam Austin shot over the bar from the edge of the box and Cornell Rawlinson wasted a header after the break to give the Notts a big boost.
Liam Mandeville wasted a last-minute chance to seal the win before Notts veteran John Bostock blocked Fitzsimmons from a set-piece at the near post.
Dobra put the Derby County club ahead three minutes after the restart and it was Rodriguez who ensured the final would be decided from 12 yards after Macaulay Longstaff and Rawlinson again came close to restoring parity.
After four years and three failed play-off attempts – including a beating by Harrogate in the final at Wembley behind closed doors in 2020 amid the Covid-19 pandemic – Notts finally secured the title in a record finish for their English Football League (EFL) return-breaking season.
Luke Williams’ side were beaten to automatic promotion and the title by Hollywood-backed Wrexham, who top the table with an all-time high of 111 points.
The Magpies finished second with 107 points, which would have allowed them to go straight to the title each season prior to this one.
The club’s total win record and 117 goals – which includes a record unbeaten run of 25 league games between September and February – will mean nothing if they lose at the National Stadium.
Chesterfield is one place behind Notts in the standings, but the gap between the two is 23 points.
Aside from Wrexham and Knotts, they are the only side to start the season at the top of the table – and they put them together in an incredibly energy-draining game at Wembley. Notts pushed to the limit.
Goalkeeper disasters and heroics
Chesterfield had an odd chance almost immediately after kick-off when they conceded an indirect free-kick inside the box.
The Notts put their whole team a yard in front of the goal line to block Jeff King’s shot from the left of the penalty spot, but the Magpies’ uncertain start quickly turned for the worse.
Slocum ran out to try to stop Dallas on the edge of the box, but caught the Spireites striker as he tried to lift the ball past the keeper.
With composure, Dallas headed down the middle after a chaotic five minutes to beat Slocombe from the spot to give Chesterfield the lead.
A neurotic Notts struggled to match a frenetic Chesterfield for much of the first half, but Austin had a chance to equalize from close range in the 17th minute when he stretched to meet Aaron Neymane’s goal. High cross.
Dallas continued to torment Notts’ backline on the left, calling Slocum into action when the striker tried to pull a dangerous ball back into goal.
It wasn’t until the 37th minute that Notts managed a shot and Nemane fed the ball straight into the hands of Fitzsimons.
Austin and Rawlinson were off target in the search for a second-half equalizer, only for Bostock to close in with a clever free-kick after Slocombe’s error at the other end, narrowly giving Chesterfield the win in normal time. .
Dobra put Chesterfield ahead again in extra-time and while Langstaff came close to adding to his Nations League record 42 goals, Rawlinson also flashed a chance and Rodriguez saved Notts’ hopes.
On-loan keeper Meyer was instrumental in saving the penalty from the bench in his fifth game for the Notts, with Scott keeping his composure after Bostock fumbled the penalty. Victory secured.
- twenty onepalmer
- 26Old Duck56 minutes to book
- 5Grimes90 minutes to book
- 7mandevillereplaceAquinolaexist 89′minute
- 29dallasreplaceQuigleyexist 78′minute
- 10Cole Cloughreplacebankexist 70′minute
- 17OKreplaceMaguireexist 105′minute
- 1SlocombereplaceMeyerexist 90+2′minute
- twenty threechickreplacejonesexist 55′minute
- 11don’t stay
- twenty fourbostockBook in 38 minutes
- 8austinreplaceScottexist 66′minute
- Matthew Collett
The game ends, Chesterfield 2(3), Notts County 2(4).
Penalties ended, Chesterfield 2(3), Notts County 2(4).
Target! Chesterfield 2(3), Notts County 2(4). Cedwyn Scott (Notts County) scores from the penalty spot.
Target! Chesterfield 2(3), Notts County 2(3). Joe Quigley (Chesterfield) converts the penalty.
Penalty missed! Still Chesterfield 2(2), Notts County 2(3). John Bostock (Notts County) hits the woodwork.
The penalty was saved! Jeff King (played by Chesterfield) failed to seize this great opportunity and was rescued.
Target! Chesterfield 2(2), Notts County 2(3). Jodi Jones (Notts County) scores from the penalty spot.
Target! Chesterfield 2(2), Notts County 2(2). Lawrence Maguire (Chesterfield) converts the penalty.
Target! Chesterfield 2(1), Notts County 2(2). Rúben Rodrigues (Notts County) converted the penalty.
The penalty was saved! Darren Oldaker (Chesterfield) failed to seize this golden opportunity and was rescued.
Target! Chesterfield 2(1), Notts County 2(1). Macaulay Langstaff (Notts County) converted from the penalty spot.
Target! Chesterfield 2(1), Nottsshire 2. Oliver Banks (Chesterfield) converts from the penalty spot.
Penalties start Chesterfield 2, Notts County 2.
Extra time ends in the second half, Chesterfield 2, Notts County 2.
Target! Chesterfield 2, Nottsshire 2. Ruben Rodriguez (Notts County).
Substitute, Chesterfield. Laurence Maguire replaces Armando Dobra.
Extra time begins in the second half, Chesterfield 2, Notts County 1.
Extra time ended in the first half, Chesterfield 2-1 Notts County.
Target! Chesterfield 2, Nottsshire 1. Armando Dobra (Chesterfield).
Extra time begins in the first half, Chesterfield 1, Notts County 1.
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