If you’re going to live in the moment, yesterday’s draw was something very special, the story of eleven players showing great character and fighting spirit to claw back a 3-0 deficit to grab a point in injury time.
Once the euphoria has died down however, two injury time goals like those from Westy and Kevin Smith will do little to mask how largely inept the performance had been up until that point. As ever, trying to put your finger on what continues to go wrong is no easy task.
Is it a squad of players struggling to deal with no getting things their own way like they did last year? A new set of additions failing to gel with an already established squad? Or simply the inexperienced manager still struggling to figure out his best starting XI?
On the Dean Court turf it was a performance littered with sloppy passing (be them too short, or just wayward), soft offside decisions, a telling lack of movement off the ball, and again, that lack of confidence that has shone through in the side’s games so far.
The side found themselves behind by three goals inside the first half hour, and they probably won’t concede three worse goals all season.
Bournemouth’s first came down to a lack of communication in the Notts defence allowing Josh McQuoid to stab home on the bounce for his first. On 25 minutes McQuoid was able to sprint through two lagging Notts defenders to lob Stuart Nelson in goal, before Anton Robinson made it three as many minutes later as he picked up a loose ball following a Nelson save.
Three absolute calamities at the back and County’s hosts were out of sight. A response was needed, and fast. Of all the places it came from, big Ben Burgess was the man to provide it having been putting in another largely average performance. I still maintain that we’re yet to see the best of Burgess in a black and white shirt, but you really struggle to see how someone with such a massive lack of pace will last a season!
Ricky Ravenhill was brought off at half time for Jake Jervis and this definitely made an impact as he chased tirelessly every ball put forward to him, and this sparked something of a reaction from those around him. The introduction 15 minutes into the second half of Kevin Smith in the place of Burgess, proved to be a second effective replacement made by the manager.
Truth be told there were brief moments of positivity in the second half. Some nice passes being put around on the floor, a few dangerous balls into the box, but on large Bournemouth were able to cope all too easily with whatever County threw at them.
Until stoppage time. The fourth official’s indication of the four added minutes was lit the fuse for another attack. Sub Jervis strook the post, only for Craig Westcarr to get his second goal of the season with a smartly taken rebound. The cliche of “too little, too late” never seemed more apt at the time, but at least there was a little respectability on the scoreline now.
As you would expect, the hosts tryed to take the sting out of the game, biding their time over free-kicks or injuries, but to no avail. With five minutes played on the clock Kevin Smith scrambled the ball underneath Jalal in the Bournemouth goal and County were level.
The scenes in the County side of the South Stand were incredible. Like Luke Rodger’s last minute winner against Rotherham last year magnified by a hunded, the immense sense of relief evident throughout. As Wheelbarrow echoed out at the final whistle, you’d be forgiven for thinking we’d taken all three points.
So whilst a draw does little to paper over the cracks in the performance, you don’t have to look so far for the positives this week. A side already struggling for confidence coming back from 3-0 down is an achievement in itself, and shows that last season’s fighting spirit still remains.
Perhaps most notably, for the stick Craig Short might take for changing a winning team after beating Watford in the week, but it was him that saw the places that areas that needed changing and didn’t hesitate to make the substitutions.
A result like this could prove to be the catalyst for the season. In my opinion, it’s the biggest step that Short will have taken yet to discovering that first team he so badly needs.
If it is clearer to the manager now, you’d really expect Yeovil to face a tough ride this Saturday when they visit Nottingham, where Notts County will celebrate 100 years at Meadow Lane.
Dare the Glovers spoil the party?