Notts Show Promise Despite Frailties

A busy Easter weekend kicked off on Friday for Notts County, who, struggling for form, travelled south to Swindon to take on Gavin Gunning’s side in a contest which would prove to be frustrating for the Magpies.

As they so typically do, Notts dominated the possession statistics in the early exchanges; however, when they attempted to play out from the back, midfielder Scott Robertson’s misplaced back-pass to ‘keeper Sam Slocombe would rebound off the post and into the path of frontman Aaron Drinan. The 25-year-old striker, presented with a golden opportunity, made no mistake, slotting effortlessly past Slocombe from all of five yards out to give his side the lead, just 20 minutes into the matchup. Now chasing the game, Stuart Maynard’s side continued to dominate the ball, but chances were few and far between, with County seemingly unable to prize open the Robin’s stubborn defensive unit. County’s hesitancy in their play would eventually come back to bite them, as around 20 minutes from time, ‘keeper Slocombe played the ball straight to poacher Paul Glatzel, who lobbed the Magpies shot-stopper to double the host’s lead, all but securing the three points for his side.

Notts would get a goal in this one though, a mere consolation, scored by in form January signing Alassana Jatta who headed home an Aaron Nemane cross in stoppage time to half the deficit. Ultimately though, it would be too little too late, as the home side would hold on to edge out the Magpies, in what was an extremely disappointing afternoon for the visitors.

Things would not get any easier either, as County would have to play host to high-flyers MK Dons just three days later, on Easter Monday, with fans demanding a good performance from their side following a run of five successive home defeats. With pressure mounting on Head Coach Maynard, a solid home performance was required from his team to reignite some life into what remained of this season.

From the start, the change in intensity, compared to the previous outing against Swindon was evident from the Magpies. They started sharply, and not only dominated possession, but also had the better of the chances in the early exchanges. However, the visitors took the lead, against the run of play when striker Max Dean turned expertly in midfield before arrowing a sublime effort into the top corner of Luca Ashby-Hammond’s goal. Many fans would have been questioning how their side were a goal down at this stage, however, in first half stoppage time, the hard-working Sam Austin would draw the home side level, stabbing home from close range, after Alassana Jatta’s close range effort was blocked. Going into the break level, fans would have been content with their sides showing, with higher intensity and desire on show from their players.

As the second half kicked off, Notts started in a similar fashion, pressing high and working hard as a team, which would result in Dons’ ‘keeper Filip Marschall misplacing a clearance, which found its way to wing-back Adam Chicksen. Against his former employers, the Zimbabwean would whip in a fantastic cross, directly onto the head of Gambian frontman Jatta, who found the top corner with an excellent header, to give County an unlikely 2-1 lead just 3 minutes into the second half.

Dons’ Manager Mike Williamson, made a triple change not long after his side fell behind, bringing on Ellis Harrison, in what would prove to be an inspired substitution, as the 30-year-old Welshman would go on to score two goals in around 20 minutes, to put MK back in-front by three goals to two.

Throughout the course of the season, one main criticism of the Magpies would be their susceptibility of ‘running out of steam’ which has been shown with the number of late goals conceded this year. However, for a change it would be Notts to score a late goal through Aaron Nemane, who poked home a delightful Jodi Jones cross to rescue a point for his team, preventing yet another home loss.

While this contest did not result in a home win for Notts, something they have been waiting all calendar year for, this performance went a way to show the fans that the players have not given up on this season. County are now mathematically safe from relegation, and 10 points adrift of the playoffs, a debt which with 5 games left to play, would appear unsurmountable.

Stuart Maynard and his team must now look ahead to the challenge of Harrogate Town, who visit Meadow Lane on Saturday, with the Head Coach looking to secure his first win on home soil this season.

*Article provided by Will Sey (Notts County Correspondent).

*Main image @Official_NCFC Notts played a thriller at home to MK Dons.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *