Never have i seen one game of football divide opinion quite so much.
On one side of the coin, Notts County’s performance against Tranmere was the worst many have seen in years. The other side, says it was yes another dominant display where we’ve been desperately unlucky not to walk away with three points.
Been there, done that enough times already this year though!
Personally, i happen to think this was the hardest defeat we’ve had to swallow all season…and that really is saying a lot!
In retrospect, you could argue that perhaps the match was lost even before kick off. Following a week where every man and his source were itching to help Paul Ince find his best XI, to see the news come through of an Ince/Westcarr partnership was somewhat puzzling.
Obviously not helped by an illness suffered by Lee Hughes in the week of course. On top of this, his injuries and suspension this season, is the writing on the wall that maybe Lee Hughes is not going to be our saviour this season?
So much anticipation surrounds the arrival of any striker joining the club in the hope that they could be the perfect foil for Hughes as we look to climb the table. But what good is it when Hughes is rarely available? Could the time and enthusiasm be better spent going all out to find the ideal replacement for last season’s top scorer? Food for thought perhaps.
On his day, Hughes is unplayable. It just hurts the club (and no doubt the players, already scraping the barrel for confidence) so much when “his day” comes along so rarely.
The lineup also begged the same question as last week…assuming he’s fit, what more can Luke Rodgers do?
It does give an indication of the state of the Notts-supporting mind though that after week after week of supporters praying for Hawley to be dropped, when he is, it’s still not enough.
Whilst the football was never anything more than adequate (wake up, we’re in the relegation zone scrapping for every point, what do people expect?) Notts still did more than enough to win the game so to see off Tranmere. In the first half the better chances came from distance, from Ben Davies on three occasions. The best, a free kick just marginally too high.
It was a thoroughly dominant display in the first half as Notts set up camp in the visitor’s half, but like so many times this season, weren’t able to make their pressure pay. It was hardly going to come as a shock if Tranmere were to take the lead and go on to win the game.
And just five minutes into the second half, Showunmi scored for the visitors. It comes as a surprise to very few that Stephen Hunt was the man to be exploited down the right.
I’m not one for scapegoats, but Hunt has really dropped the ball in recent weeks and is really living a charmed life to still find himself with a starting position.
1-0 down. No reason to panic though. You imagine the new Notts under Paul Ince will keep their heads and stick to how they’d gotten through the first half. Or not.
Within minutes and the County of the season’s opening games returned with a vengeance. Long balls being hit forward after moments of stagnant play amongst the back line. We’ve been here so many times this year already.
This week at least though, we were winning balls in the air and building from them, every so slightly. What in previous weeks were lost causes were being won in the air and on some occasions, even leading to clear cut chances.
Steven Darby, Mike Edwards and Karl Hawley were all found wanting in front of goal with excellent chances. Had it been any other week, these were chances that could fall to the likes of Westcarr, Davies and Hughes and we’d have a completely different perspective of League One life right now.
So it’s three league defeats in succession for Ince in his new job, not what was required for a team only a few wins from the playoff positions when he took charge. A backwards step without question, but it’s still early days.
The voices that wanted Craig Short sacked just two games in were then the same ones appalled to see club legend Short removed rather abruptly just a few weeks ago.
Swindon visit Meadow Lane tomorrow night, themselves slowly clawing their way away from the relegation places.
Whilst the future currently looks bleak, it’s important not to lose sight of what the current squad is capable of when they’re at their best. Forgetting the achievements of last term, this season alone hasn’t been short of it’s own highlights despite us being three points adrift in the drop zone.
This is a team with wins at two sides who were in the Championship as recently as last season, a team that was right to consider themselves desperately unlucky at a Premiership ground, and better yet, a team that has dominated the divisions big hitters for long periods of play.
All that’s missing in most of the ones that got away is just that one goal. Surely enough to say we need to be monitoring the status of our star striker?
So in that respect, Paul Ince (who i defended just last week for his honesty regarding our current plight) is bang out of order to be telling the BBC that Notts County don’t have quality.
Perhaps someone could lend the Guv’nor a copy of last year’s DVD and some of this season’s games to see what the current squad’s nucleus is capable of.