Four Points Dropped – Yet Still Smiling

Notts County sit pretty at fifth place in nPower League One on the back of two potential banana skins in four days going into this weekend’s fixture.

It’s a drop of two places, but thanks to the sides in and around not pushing on themselves through the period, the end result is most definitely two valuable points gained in adversity.

Three spot kicks from Jeff Hughes were enough through both occasions to keep the County unbeaten run going and takes them into Saturday’s trip to Colchester with only one loss in the past ten league fixtures.

Saturday’s encounter (a 1-1 with Brentford at Meadow Lane) was a feisty encounter that whilst credible, might just be considered the more annoying droppage of the two. Both Lee Hughes and Sam Sodje missed great chances to give Notts the three points in the second half but it was never to be.

It was Jughes from the spot who put County in control of the game from a dubiously awarded penalty having seen Alan Judge bundled over on his way to knocking a ball into the path of an offside Lee Hughes. The ball was buried high into the roof of the net – Jeff is yet to miss a spot-kick at Notts, something that was to prove all the more vital by the end of the week.

The afternoon’s panto villain Uwe Rosler’s performance on the halfway line in trying to stop Alan Sheehan’s free-kick was one of many talking points in a half where maybe the visitors were fortunate to still be with their full compliment of players. Rosler’s blatant obstruction of Sheehan on multiple occasions saw him sent high into the Pavis stand.

It was this week announced that the German wouldn’t face further punishment for his antics – fair enough really, no need any punishment to exceed the afternoon’s match really. Punishment aside, we’ll always be left to remember his post-match interview and his promise that “Justice will be done”.

Martin Allen would have been disappointed to see his team talk evaporate inside just 10 seconds of the final interval as Summer transfer target Clayton Donaldson’s thunderbolt silenced Meadow Lane to tie the scores. Heads didn’t drop though, and Notts pressed on to be the most dominant side in the second half despite not adding further to that Hughes penalty.

One other headline that afternoon was the loss of Gavin Mahon to injury, having previously passed a late fitness test. The recent full time signing was then missing for Tuesday’s trip to Bury – replaced not by Ricky Ravenill or Charlie Allen, but Hamza Bencherif who again maybe proved to be unsuccessful in his claims to staking a regular first team place.

Notts twice fell behind on the night, yet were given opportunities to claw back the deficit with Jughes duly obliged with with successive penalty kicks.

Dubiously awarded? Most probably, but we’re at the point where rival supporters complaining makes us laugh more than angry. We’re fast making enemies at an impressive rate – long may it continue if we’re no longer taken for granted as an easy three points.

Notts drop two places from last week to number five, still in touch thanks to somewhat favourable results from the sides surrounding them.

The Dog’s men will tomorrow play Colchester facing another test of their strength in depth. In the absence of Mahon on Tuesday County took a solid draw, on Saturday it’s quite likely they could be lining up without Mahon, the suspended Krystian Peace and for the first time this season – Lee Hughes.

Our hosts reside in 14th spot in the table, without a win in their last four having drawn three and lost one.

The Johnson’s Paint Trophy game with Chesterfield a few weeks back opened a lot of people’s eyes towards the fact there’s a scary lack of cover in the squad, so let’s see if Notts have any great immediate cover on hand.

Sam Sodje is already lined up as the one to partner Mike Edwards in the centre of defence, but all the impressive cameos up front do nothing to hide the fear the Salmon instills when back in defence.

Here’s to hoping there are more shades of the defensive display shown last year at Tranmere rather than those shown pretty much everywhere else at the tail end of last season!

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