Reality’s a bitch right?
Yesterday was just about as harsh a lesson in expectations management as you’re ever likely to see. A sound 3-0 thrashing from a sharp looking Huddersfield side cheered on by the sort of travelling support unseen at Meadow Lane for a long while.
Notts were rarely in the game, save for a 20 minute spell at the beginning of the second period that brought about a couple of half chances, but a third Hudders goal killed the game off for good. Any other result would’ve been harsh on the travellers.
This was a Notts side unlike anything that had been on show for the entirety of last season, and the sort of capitulation in the league that Chairman Ray Trew was witnessing for the first time.
Craig Short’s starting XI barely showed up. The majority turning in a poor performance as they were hurried in all areas of the pitch into mistakes, most notably smashing the ugly long ball forward constantly to no avail. Big Ben Burgess won very little in a polar opposite performance from that which he put in against Cardiff just two weeks ago with Lee Hughes left to run tirelessly for lose cause after lost cause.
Substitues Jake Jervis and Craig Westcarr impressed upon their arrival in the game and would probably find themselves unlucky to at least get a start in Tuesday’s trip to Plymouth in the League Cup.
You’ll find no excuses anywhere in te Notts camp. Huddersfield were brilliant against a poor Notts side that can only grow stronger based on the performance… Hell, we’re bottom of the league, the only way is up!
What could be argued though, is how different a game we could’ve been involved in had a half decent official been appointed. We won’t blame him for how the match went down, but we will wonder what might’ve been.
You sort of get used to seeing bad refereeing performances in the middle of Notts games. Andy D’urso last season gave everyone a headache at Northampton’s Sixfields Stadium for example, but Trevor Kettle yesterday was a whole new level of awful.
The County frontline of Burgess and Hughes were effectively manhandled to the ground for the first 20 minutes but nothing was given in their favour and heads started to drop across the pitch.
Not to say their was any particular bias on the part of Kettle. Lee Hughes was lucky to escape at least a caution after a late challenge on goalkeeper Alex Smithies. No bias, just a bad referee that’s all.
And what of the 10,300+ fans at Meadow Lane? Well, if the footballing lesson on the pitch was the wake up call the team needed, what came from the Sirrel should surely be enough to shatter any notion that Meadow Lane is some kind of fortress?
Sure, the Kop is always loud, but this is merely one stand, and yesterday it was certainly no match for the amazing 3,000 odd that came from Yorkshire to cheer on their team. There’s only so much encouragement one end of supporters can offer whilst the Pavis and Family Stands continue to sit largely static on their hands when their side needs them.
Looking at the bigger picture, what effect might this have on future crowds at Meadow Lane? A lot of supporters for whom last year was the first season of going to Lanes have come to expect things they’re own way, evident perhaps by some of the booing at full time, or the dozens leaving after the third nail in the coffin.
To see Notts on the reversal of what we saw so many times last season will undoubtedly have hit a lot of people hard, let’s hope they’ll keep the faith a little longer to see Shorty’s selections turn things around on the field, and they will, no question.
But what of the team spirit so stubbornly forged in the past 12 months against all adversity? All logic would say that it would take a million bulldozers to knock the team down but you never know how things are operating behind closed doors. Other than a hammering in the Cup at Fulham’s Craven Cottage, the team have never faced such a reversal, it’s important now that they stick together more than ever before.
There’s no need to panic, and certainly no need for the sort of doom merchants that are rearing their heads now we’ve hit a roadbump. Truth be told absolutely nothing has changed now in the 24 hours since kick off.
We still have a strong squad that proved themselves against strong opposition last year, and we’ve added players that could still be playing at higher levels.
I repeat this often because it’s still the truth. On reflection, how could a team not be underprepared after having their own way so much last season?
Huddersfield should consider the wake up call well and truly delivered. Well played Sirs!