Oh what a night.
Tuesday, April 20th, the night when Notts County effectively sealed their first piece of silverware of the new Millennium, with a dogged win against a battling Rochdale side desperate to get their title challenge back on track.
Lee Hughes (who else?!) struck the winner in the first half with a beautiful first time curler from 20 yards after some ‘Dale indecision on halfway. What this result meant to Hughesy was evident to all at the final whistle.
Had it not been for ‘Dale shotstopper Frank Fielding, the scoreline could have been even more disastrous for Keith Hill’s Rochdale, including two world class saves from both Hughes and the resurgent Delroy Facey. Neil Bishop also smashed the Rochdale bar with a second half piledriver, whilst Ben Davies’ run and shot went just wide.
Rochdale had enough of the ball throughout, but Kasper Schmeichel was rarely troubled on his way to yet another cleansheet. The one time when he was beaten, the woodwork came to County’s aid as Howarth became the second player of the night to be denied by the crossbar.
The final whistle was met with incredible scenes in the Kop. If the Meadow Lane roof hadn’t been blown off already, and if the stands weren’t rocked enough to their foundations already, there sure to be on their last legs by the time the season’s best 10,536 people in attendance had finished with it.
On leaving the ground, it’s nothing short of incredible to see further evidence of the club’s transformation from perennial whipping boys, to one of the most despised outfits the lower leagues of English football is likely to have ever seen. We almost literally did turn into an overnight Chelski, minus the millions. The sheer venom in the faces of leaving Rochdale fans is rather sad when all is said and done. Why would you allow an opposing football team get under your skin so much?
Speaking of people trying to get under your skin…Keith Hill, your name now stands next to the likes of Lincoln City and Alan Knill on the list of this club’s detractors who got their just desserts the moment your coach pulled up at the Lane. 14 points, and you fucked it up.
Allow me to finish on a positive note though, with a massive thank you to Sean, an absolute legend without who i wouldn’t have even been able to be at Meadow Lane tonight. A truly great experience for my first midweek game, and i owe it all to him. Drinks on me at the Cheltenham game!