Another day, another five goals. Would that magical sixth be too much to ask for though?
Another Meadow Lane 5-0 thrashing leaves the club needing “just” four goals next weekend at Torquay to reach 100 goals for the season, probably the only achievement left for Notts to achieve this season.
It’s hard to think of anything else for a free scoring, watertight machine like the current Notts County side to aim for anymore!
This match was little more than a mismatched appetiser for the post-match title celebrations in all honesty. with County completely seizing control in the first half thanks to (as with Tuesday at Darlington) four goals in the space of 11 minutes.
Graeme Lee opened the scoring just after 20 minutes, nodding home Ben Davies’ left wing corner. Then it as so often happens, became the Lee Hughes show.
Barely a minute later, and Hughes’ instant control set himself up for his first of the day. The ever-impressive Davies’ inswinging free-kick to the backpost (how teams haven’t cottoned onto this i do not know!) alluded everyone (even the outstretched hand of Hughes) to embarrass Chelt’s ‘keeper Brown. A shellshocked Cheltenham then found themselves 4-0 down with a patient, precise finish across the outstretched palm of Brown. Could’ve been five in the first half had Hughes not drifted into an offside position.
Cheltenham were given some respite on 40 minutes with the substitute of Lee Hughes, who had taken his league goals tally to 30 for the season. Hughes of course was given the Meadow Lane send-off he deserved. Notts’ supersub on Tuesday, Luke Rodgers entering the fray for what was to be another goalscoring appearance from the bench.
Like against Morecambe recently though, the foot was taken well off the pedal in the second half. It could be argued that the atmosphere had taken a dive for a large period at the beginning of the half and it took Luke Rodgers (Hughes’ replacement) deft touch on 80 minutes to reignite things a little. Being completely honest, the second half was always going to struggle following on from the first half, and being the starter for the main course of the afternoon!
The other moment of worth in the second half was the departure of the man i’ve told Jen she might never see replaced at Meadow Lane, Kasper Schmeichel. Steve Cotterill giving the now lengendary goalkeeper his own standing ovation with 10 minutes remaining in place of Russell Hoult. It’s not too out of the question that Kasper may return next season, but it was still the sendoff he richly deserved. Kasper, you will be missed.
So that was that then. Notts County 5, Cheltenham 0. Results elsewhere saw Rochdale drop to third place behind Eddie Howe’s Bournemouth too…so, a good day all round! With a bit of luck, that’ll be the last time i feel the need to mention Rochdale this season, that bridge has been crossed.
Great credit to Bournemouth who now occupy the runners-up spot though, great things have been done at that club, Eddie Howe should take Manager Of The Year ahead of Roy Hodgson for sure.
Then, a patient Meadow Lane waited. The team disappeared down the tunnel whilst representatives from the Football League & Coca Cola setup the podium for the team. Fittingly, Ray Trew was first to appear from the tunnel with the League Two trophy, placing it on the podium ready for Thommo and crew to hold aloft. And so they did!
It’s at this point that things get a little harder to talk about. The pictures either side of this blog post speak louder than any words i could put in here. The height of the lap of honour came fittingly in front of us in the Kop, with Hughes leading both the Kop and playing squad in a few rounds of the Hughesy. Great times. Players and staff took their turns in parading the League Two trophy above their heads for all to see, flagged by friends and family on the Meadow Lane turf.
And what of the pitch invasion? Stewards stood firm, flanked by members of the local police force, enforced by an impenetrable line of red and white sticky tape. Fair enough, like i’d said all week, let the players have their moment. It’s their season more so than ours.
One supporter took his chance to turn the team’s moment into all of our moments though! One supporter, breaking through the tape and joining the team in front of the Derek Pavis stand opened the floodgates for everyone else in the Kop. Was it more the stewards giving up a losing battle, or letting common sense prevail? For all the stick they’ve taken this year, it could be argued that the stewards went some way to redeeming themselves on this day.
And so the crowd took their place surrounding the player’s tunnel. And hypocritical old me felt the need to join them despite days of saying i wouldn’t find it hard to respect the club’s wishes. Was happy enough to depart through the usual exit, but the trickle of people from the stands onto the pitches seemed almost welcomed!
I’m not going to lie. Being on the pitch was a great experience, and something every Notts fan should’ve experienced on this day. Unlucky if you left too early!
Now comes the end of the season effectively for me. Torquay unfortunately looks a bridge too far for me as the team aim for the 100 goal barrier. The club has a civic reception planned in Nottingham City Centre next Sunday which would be nice to be a part of though…so let’s hope!