Crewe Alexandra skipper Luke Murphy converted a late first-half penalty but managerless Notts County still hit back for a share of the honours in a 1-1 draw at Meadow Lane.
Murphy earned the visitors an interval lead from the spot after AJ Leitch-Smith was fouled inside the area by Gavin Mahon.
But that was cancelled out early in the second-half when on loan Manchester United striker John Cofie seized upon a slip by Adam Dugdale to equalise.
Crewe opened well with Mark Ellis’ header from Murphy’s inviting free-kick forcing a save from Fabian Spiess before Brad Inman struck a twenty-yard effort against an upright.
Fellow loanee Chuks Aneke was next to call the home keeper into action before the hosts saw an effort disallowed for a shove on opposite number Steve Phillips. County schemer Jeff Hughes in turn helped an Alan Sheehan cross wide.
Alex midfielder Abdul Osman then headed onto the roof of the net before his side took the lead when Murphy confidently despatched his penalty into the top corner after Leitch-Smith was brought down inside the area.
The Magpies were first to show at the start of the second-half when first Cofie tried his luck and then Alan Judge’s excellent dipping 25-yard shot came back off the underside of the crossbar.
There were also calls for a penalty as Cofie went down in the box before Murphy saw an attempt charged down at the opposite end.
But when the next goal came it was in the hosts’ favour after Dugdale lost possession and Cofie struck low past Phillips from the edge of the area.
Goalscorer Cofie then headed straight at Phillips while substitute Yoann Arquin was narrowly wide of the far post after visiting skipper Murphy had already threatened from a 25-yard strike.
Arquin also delivered a low drive saved by Phillips before Alex substitute Mathias Pogba dragged wide and Murphy had a free-kick turned onto the bar by keeper Speiss.
Former Alex loanee Sheehan also drilled narrowly over during the closing stages while substitute Ryan Colclough saw a late reply blocked.
Notts County: Speiss, Kelly, Sheehan, Leacock, Liddle, Judge, Hughes, Mahon (Arquin 46), Boucaud, Campbell-Ryce (Zoko 81), Cofie (Showunmi 90)
subs (unused): Mitchell, Smith, Bencherif, Tempest
Goals: Cofie (57)
Crewe Alexandra: Phillips, Mellor, Ellis, Dugdale, Tootle, Murphy, Osman, Aneke (Colclough 78), Inman, Leitch-Smith, Moore (Pogba 64)
subs (unused): Martin, Turton, Robertson, Ray, M. Clayton
Goals: Murphy (pen 45)
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