Notts County overcame Eastleigh 4-0 at Meadow Lane to secure their sixth consecutive win on Saturday.
Kyle Wootton’s brace, Kristian Dennis’ tap-in and a lovely strike from Cal Roberts gave Notts a comfortable victory in England’s highest-profile game of the weekend.
Notts County came into the game having won their last five games in all competitions, on an unbeaten run stretching back to the start of February.
Eastleigh sat 16th in the table ahead of kick-off, having taken eight points from their last five league fixtures.
Joel Bagan had a good chance to put the hosts ahead on seven minutes after Kyle Wootton set him up but his cross was blocked for a corner.
Notts went ahead on 15 minutes. Cal Roberts broke down the right from an Eastleigh corner. His crossfield delivery to Dennis was intercepted by Dayle Grubb, but the header fell straight to the striker.
Dennis crossed low from the left and found KYLE WOOTTON who headed in from close range to put the Magpies in front with his 17th goal of a remarkable season. Notts 1 – 0 Eastleigh.
Cal Roberts cut in from the right and might have doubled the hosts’ advantage on 20 minutes but he fired just high and wide into the Kop.
Eastleigh threatened most from wide areas so Joe McDonnell was kept busy.
He struggled with a couple of clearances and flapped at a cross on 33 minutes but Notts still largely looked to build from the back, as per Ardley’s philosophy at the club thus far this term.
The visitors weren’t short of opportunities to test him from set pieces but Alex Lacey and Connell Rawlinson put in a solid enough showing at the back.
Notts started to create chances again late in the first half, Dennis playing Roberts through nicely down the right but the former Newcastle man ran down a blind alley somewhat and his cross was blocked.
HALF-TIME: NOTTS COUNTY 1 – 0 EASTLEIGH
The hosts doubled their advantage on 54 minutes as Roberts played a stunning, curling pass round the corner for KRISTIAN DENNIS who tapped home. Notts 2 – 0 Eastleigh.
They had a third less than ten minutes later. Roberts was involved yet again, playing it out wide to Mitch Rose. The midfielder spotted KYLE WOOTTON in space who secured a brace with a cool finish into the bottom left from outside the area. Notts 3 – 0 Eastleigh.
CAL ROBERTS finally got the goal he deserved on 70 minutes. He received it from the left, set himself with his right before finishing well into the bottom left. Notts 4 – 0 Eastleigh.
Tom Crawford replaced Mitch Rose in the second half and nearly got on the scoresheet with 80 minutes gone but Stryjek carried it out for a Notts corner from an extremely tight angle.
FULL-TIME: NOTTS COUNTY 4 – 0 EASTLEIGH
Notts County visit Torquay United in the Vanarama National League on Tuesday March 17. Kick-off at Plainmoor is 7:45pm. Richard Brindley scored one of Notts’ goals of the season in October’s 2-0 victory.
The Magpies’ next fixture at Meadow Lane is the second leg of their Buildbase FA Trophy semi-final with Harrogate Town.
Notts County: McDonnell, Rose (Crawford 72′), Doyle (c), Dennis (Thomas 72′), Boldewijn, Rawlinson, Wootton, Brindley, Lacey, Bagan, Roberts (Wilson 79′).
Unused subs: O’Brien, Long.
Goals: Wootton 15′ 62′, Dennis 54′, Roberts 70′.
Eastleigh: Stryjek, Partington, Green, Baldwin, Boyce, Payne, Barnett (Rendell 79′), Smart, Miley, Hollands (c), Grubb.
Unused subs: Flitney, Bearwish, Alabi, Scrimshaw.