Another Notts County defeat (their second in succession) gets filed once more in the already overflowing unlucky file.
Another game that the side has largely dominated ends with a long drive home with no points, no goals, but the same positive that it’s getting boring to have to repeat now. Flowing football, plenty of chances, the majority of the possession. But still, no points, no goals.
In a game where both Neal Bishop and Alan Judge both missed out through suspension, Lee Hughes failed to buck a worrying recent trend by again missing the game, presumably with his groin playing up again.
Whilst four of County’s six wins this season have come without Hughes, defeat at Carlisle only serves to highlight the gaping hole at the top of the pitch where there should be a natural goalscorer. Whilst we can get by just fine some days without last year’s leading goalscorer, there’ll be games where “just fine” doesn’t quite cut it.
Based on the performance, it’s unfair to put the defeat down squarely to the absence of Hughes because Notts coped fine once more in his absence. But the question mark will hang over the game about what might’ve been had he been in the side.
One would expect Ray Trew to already be scouring the transfer market for a loan signing to fill the gap whilst Hughes continues to play our “Ledley King” role, in that we can only play him when his body deems fit.
Karl Hawley impressed on a return to his former stomping ground but couldn’t put the ball away. Time continues to pass Karl by as he looks for his first goal of the season. Hawley is in the side to score goals and it’s yet to happen for him, could he be drinking at the last chance saloon with Ben Burgess soon to return from injury?
County had dominated proceedings whilst Carlisle offered little in the way of resistance. Having spurned a host of chances (hitting the woodwork, shots cleared off the line, and the most narrowest of misses) the ball wouldn’t go in, and on 70 minutes they were made to pay when Gary Madine slotted home in the box. In fairness, Carlisle were perhaps unfortunate not to net at least one more time.
Carlisle’s support have been gracious in victory which has made a pleasant change from the bitterness of our rivals in recent months.
Many have been left to ponder how they managed to walk away with three points, whilst others have said we’re a good side that will do well this year. Unfortunately, the best conceived well wishes do little to soften another blow to the squad’s confidence.
What impact results like this must have must be hard to swallow. County on at least four occasions this season have controlled matches and been comfortable on the ball, only to see their opponents take games by the scruff of the necks. Captain John Thompson really has his work cut out for him this season to keep the heads held high.
On Saturday, Notts will return to home action with a fixture against Plymouth Argyle, a side that County have already beaten once already this year away from home.
The game can one of two ways.
We either continue to believe that someone is due a thrashing, or that we’re deeper in a relegation dogfight than any of us would care to admit.
What is known though is that Craig Short already finds himself under a lot of pressure to turn these great performances into results. An unthinkable defeat at Meadow Lane on Saturday, again likely to be in the absence of Lee Hughes, and it’s three defeats on the bounce.
Perhaps i’m naive to believe so strongly that we’re a good enough team and that if we continue to play games like we are then the results will follow. On another day Notts County would’ve been out of sight by the time Carlisle hit the winner, but the same was said for performances against Charlton Athletic and Sheffield Wednesday.
Still not reaching for the panic button though, not just yet.