Murray Wallace scored Town’s first goal of the 2015/16 season, but the Terriers were dumped out of the Capital One Cup by League 2 Notts County thanks to a brace from midfielder Liam Noble.
The Terriers scored after a good first-half spell of pressure, but two strikes from Noble – the second a strike that would grace any stage – gave the visitors a deserved win.
Chris Powell shuffled his pack slightly for the cup tie, making four changes to side that started the league opener at Hull four days previously. In came Joe Murphy as Alex Smithies was given a night off, whereas Murray Wallace, Ishmael Miller and summer recruit Kyle Dempsey were also given first starts of the campaign.
The game was open, with the League 2 visitors leaving three in attack at almost every point. That strategy led to quite an open game, with chances for both teams throughout a lively first 45 minutes.
The first, inside five minutes, fell to Town old boy Jon Stead; he tested Murphy to the limit with a header from a right wing cross that was saved with two strong hands to the goalkeeper’s left side.
At the other end, Harry Bunn had Town’s first chance of the game barely a minute later. Harry saw lots of the ball playing in a central position behind two strikers and his shot from 25 yards had to be turned over the bar by County skipper Roy Carroll.
County fought back and left winger Kyle Da Silva should have done better after getting on the end of midfielder Stanley Aborah’s chipped cross in the 14th minute, placing a half volley well wide when well positioned in space.
Bunn was integral to Town’s next chance in the 24th minute. Picking up a loose ball around 35 yards out, he drove past several defenders into the penalty area, only to place his left footed shot too close to Carroll.
Miller was a huge presence for the Terriers too and almost scored a ‘Goal of the Season’ contender on the half hour mark as the home side started to turn the screw. He shrugged off two defenders in typical fashion before unleashing a piledriver from outside the area that Carroll had to tip over his crossbar acrobatically.
‘Big Ish’ got his head to the resulting corner, taken by new set piece man Bunn, but this time his effort drifted well over.
Australian left back Jason Davidson tested Carroll again with a 25 yard free-kick soon after – and it was another set-piece that led to the first goal a minute later.
The first goal of 2015/16 came from an unlikely source; Murray Wallace. The Scottish centre back last scored a home goal in April 2013, but it was Murray who rose unopposed to head home from another superb, drilled corner taken by Bunn on the right flank to cap a good spell from Chris Powell’s side.
Unfortunately for the home fans, County didn’t go down without a fight and equalised before the half-time interval. Town still had a golden chance to make it 2-0, with a desperate last-ditch challenge preventing Nahki Wells from turning home Dempsey’s low cross, but it was soon the visiting fans who were celebrating.
In the 42nd minute, former Palace winger Kyle Da Silva managed to squeeze a pull-back to the edge of the area despite the close attentions of Martin Cranie, where he found central midfielder Liam Noble completely unmarked. That gave the former Carlisle United man chance to steady himself and fire the ball comprehensively past Joe Murphy’s right side to restore parity in the tie.
County carried the momentum into the second-half, looking far brighter than the Terriers in the opening stages. Joe Murphy had to be alert on several occasions to collect dangerous crosses into the box within the opening 10 minutes.
After that Ishmael Miller had a 25 yard strike that was hammered wide of the far post – and then County struck.
The goal came from nothing and was a real moment of brilliance from Noble, grabbing his second of the night. When the ball dropped loose around 40 yards from goal, the midfielder hit a superbly executed first time half volley over the stranded Murphy and inside the near post – stunning most inside the John Smith’s Stadium.
Chris Powell soon responded by giving Jordy Hiwula his competitive debut and throwing Jacob Butterfield and eventually Adam Hammill into the game, but the Terriers couldn’t get anywhere near their fluent best. That was despite the visitors going down to 10 men when right back Gill Swerts was shown a second yellow card for a handball.
Town’s best chance came four minutes from time when Wells swept Hammill’s cross goalwards, but Carroll rolled back the years to acrobatically turn the ball over the crossbar in great style.
Lynch was thrown forward in the four minutes of added time and headed a late chance over, but in truth County deserved their win.
Town’s team (3-4-1-2):
Joe Murphy; Joel Lynch, Murray Wallace, Martin Cranie; Jason Davidson (Adam Hammill, 82), Kyle Dempsey (Jacob Butterfield, 64), Dean Whitehead (c), Tommy Smith (Jordy Hiwula, 64); Harry Bunn; Ishmael Miller, Nahki Wells
Lloyd Allinson, Mark Hudson, Jonathan Hogg, Jacob Hanson
Harry Bunn (39), Murray Wallace (66)