Accrington Stanley suffered defeat at last season’s National League Play-Off winners Notts County but were ruing missed chances.
Josh Andrews equalised for the Reds in the first half and they had double figures in shots at the Magpies goal but couldn’t grab another.
County made the game safe in the final minute and took the three points as they rose to the top of the table and Stanley dropped to eighth.
Jay Rich-Baghuelou missed out after coming off against Salford last Saturday – after a long-term injury the defender admitted he will need to be careful on his comeback.
This meant it was a full debut for QPR defender Joe Gubbins in the Reds’ backline.
Stanley started well, Shaun Whalley almost pouncing after keeper Aidan Stone couldn’t keep hold of the ball early on.
However it was County who took the lead on seven minutes – although Stanley were disappointed the goal stood. Goalkeeper Toby Savin appealed he had the ball taken out of his hands and, as the move carried on, Jodi Jones played the ball in from the left and Dan Crowley headed home.
Andrews headed wide while Savin denied David McGoldrick with Jack Nolan also unable to find the target from distance.
Stanley levelled on 27 minutes when a Whalley free kick found Andrews at the far post and his looping header beat Stone and, despite McGoldrick trying to clear on the line, he only helped the ball into the net. It was the Birmingham loan striker’s third goal of the campaign.
Tommy Leigh drove forward and fired wide as, while County dominated possession, the Reds always looked a threat.
Nolan fired straight at Stone and Andrews had a superb chance in added time when he raced forward after Seamus Conneely won the ball in midfield, held off three defenders and, one-on-one with Stone, the Magpies keeper did well to deny him with his feet.
After the re-start, County upped the tempo.
They had two great chances through Macaulay Langstaff, who scored 42 goals in all competitions last season. He had one strike deflected over by Brad Hills and the second well-saved by Savin.
The game was end-to end and Leigh had a great chance on 64 minutes, making space for himself but rifling a shot narrowly wide.
County retook the lead on 65 minutes when a high ball forward hit the back of McGoldrick’s head and it fell for Langstaff who managed to turn the Stanley defence and fire into the top corner.
Stanley could have replied immediately but Stone one-handedly turned over a Hills’ header.
The Reds looked a threat, especially from set-pieces, as they hunted for the equaliser and they came so close on 77 minutes when Liam Coyle burst through but Stone managed to get a hand to his shot
Whalley headed narrowly over from the resulting corner.
Matt Lowe and Seb Quirk came on but then the home side made the game safe in the 90th minute when, despite two balls on the pitch, Langstaff raced free and clipped the ball beyond Savin.
Stanley: Savin, Mellor (Lowe 88), Hills, Gubbins, Longelo, Whalley, Coyle, Conneely, Nolan, Leigh (Quirk 88), Andrews
Subs: McIntyre, Martin, Pickles, O’Brien, J Woods
Yellow: Leigh, Conneely
Attendance: 9846 (244 #asfc)