Doncaster Rovers’ goal drought at the Keepmoat Stadium continued as they bowed out of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy in controversial fashion.
Kyle Bennett thought he had ended Rovers’ near-three month wait for a goal on home soil by firing home midway through the second half, only for his excellent strike to be chalked off for offside.
Liam Noble’s drilled effort from distance, not long after a poor game’s only major talking point, sent the Magpies through to the Northern semi-finals and condemned Doncaster to their fifth home defeat of the season.
Rovers’ last win - and indeed goal - at the Keepmoat came way back on September 20 against Chesterfield, although they have played just four games at home since that 3-2 victory.
Paul Dickov made five changes to the side that won at Oldham in the FA Cup - including handing a first senior start to Mexborough lad Billy Whitehouse.
He joined Marc De Val and Harry Forrester in a re-jigged midfield, so it was no surprise that Rovers lacked the fluency and understanding they displayed in passages of play at Boundary Park.
After a pedestrian opening to the game, Forrester was the first to register a shot on target but it was easy pickings for Roy Carroll in the County goal.
At the other end former Rovers full back Mustapha Dumbuya found himself in space at the by-line but his cross was diverted wide by an unmarked Jake Cassidy.
As the game approached the half hour mark there had been very little in the way of entertainment to warm the cockles of a sparse Keepmoat crowd, as both sides flattered to deceive.
Bennett caused brief excitement when his drilled cross from the right came off a defender and hit Carroll, who knew little about it, before Curtis Main lifted a shot over from distance as Doncaster sporadically threatened to bring a timid contest to life.
Unsurprisingly then, the closest either side came before the break came from a dead ball, as Bennett curled a 25-yard free kick just wide.
The second period began in similarly uninspiring fashion as both sides continued to struggle to fashion any sort of opening.
With the game drifting almost aimlessly towards what seemed as inevitable penalty shoot-out, Dickov brought on Richie Wellens and James Coppinger, for Forrester and Whitehouse.
Almost immediately Bennett thought he had given Rovers the lead, driving home from distance, only for his effort to be ruled out for offside. Main appeared to be the player adjudged to have impeded Carroll’s view, but it was a contentious call that understandably riled the home fans.
Their frustration only increased when, soon after, Noble found space and from a similar range to Bennett fired home from 25 yards, beating an outstretched Sam Johnstone low down to his right.
A late Coppinger cross caused consternation in the County defence but there was no way through for the Rovers on another frustrating night at the Keepmoat.
Rovers: Johnston, Wakefield (McCombe 90), McCullough, Butler, Evina, De Val, Forrester (Wellens 63), Whitehouse (Coppinger 63), Bennett, Main, Robinson.
Subs not used: Marosi, Keegan.
Notts County: Carroll, Dumbuya, Hollis, Laing, Adams, Noble, Smith (C Thompson 89), McLaughlin, Hall (Traore 75), Petrasso (G Thompson 75), Cassidy
Subs not used: Pilkington, McKenzie.
Referee: David Webb (Lancashire)