County KO’d In Thrilling Semi-Final

Notts County 3-3 Hornchurch *4-5 on pens (FA Trophy Semi Final) 27.03.21

A baptism of fire for a new Head Coach. A thrilling football match with an unfortunate twist, if football under Ian Burchnall is going to be like this, we are in for an entertaining ride, although if football under Ian Burchnall is going to be like this, it might not always go our way.

It started so well, Notts in the lead inside ten minutes as Kyle Wootton did what he does best, heading home from Barnett’s cross to put County one up with a smile on the face of the new man in charge, things going perfectly to plan… It could have been even better, twelve gone and Wootton this time is denied by Wright in the Hornchurch goal. His header from Doyle’s corner brilliantly stopped by the visitors no1.

Notts pushed and played with confidence, Wootton again the main threat, heading over from Boldewijn’s centre on 21, repeated on 36, chances missed by the Magpies top scorer proving costly on 38 as the visitors got lucky, Spence shot from range, deflected off Rawlinson and into the net past a hapless Slocombe. 1-1.

But not for long…

Ruben Rodrigues, selected to start, finishing from six yards to give Notts the edge, a lead three minutes before half time that lasted all of seconds… 180 of which before Hornchurch were again level, Clark sliding in for Nash, desmond at the break.

The second half was (at least initially) less entertaining, both teams now settled from their first 45 of madness, Notts taking off the technical Ruben to go ugly with O’Brien, Higgins crashed in to Slocombe with both down injured, a lengthy pause in play in a bitty and bobby affair before Wootton was again denied on 72, shooting towards goal as desperate defending wouldn’t allow the ball to pass, time for Elisha Sam and plan B… 77 gone and he’s only done it again.

Eli the man who’s stunning scorpion goal helped see off Oxford City in the last round, this time turning home more conventionally after deflecting in O’Brien’s goal bound shot home to put Notts in the lead again… 13 left, surely the tie is only heading one way, another sniff of Wembley nears for the Mighty Magpies.

But no… Hornchurch are plucky.. The minutes tick tock and time is running out, 90 plus gone but they do not give up and it falls to Nash after Ruff heads across goal for the striker to slide home a second and take the game straight to penalties… Is momentum now with the underdogs.

At 2-2 with the first 4 spot kicks smashed home Jake Reeves steps up and is denied by Wright, Hornchurch score and Notts do to, Hornchurch again before Sam scores County’s last… 4-4 with one to take, the cool head of Chris Dickson makes it 100% from 12 yards and it is Hornchurch, not Notts, who remember three times had the lead, who go through.

Call it naïve, County had opportunities to shut up shop and didn’t, usually resolute and solid, questions ask hindsight whether a Neal Ardley side would of allowed that to happen?

Already grumbles from the few unhappy after an opening match loss against an Isthmian League side that has played just three times in 2021… Did the Reedtz bros change their hands at the worse possible time? Well if Wembley finals is what you want… It looks like they did.

Plenty for Burchnall now to do already after the worst possible start to his County career… I’m sure we’ll all forget about it however, should he get us up and out of this league.

Notts County: Slocombe, Barnett, Ellis, Rawlinson, Kelly-Evans, Miller (Sam 74), Doyle, Reeves, Boldewijn (Knowles 67), Rodrigues (O’Brien 52), Wootton.

Hornchurch: Wright, Parcell, Sutton, Clark, Hayles, Muldoon, Brown (Stimson 89), Spence, Higgins (Dicksen 66), Nash, Christou (Ruff 52).

Venue: Meadow Lane

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