A game of few positives against a Huddersfield side that weren’t a patch on the side we saw hammer Notts twice last season.
With that said, it’s a great disappointment then that County didn’t do enough to win the game – forcing just one shot for the duration of the 90 minutes before Neal Bishop’s late goal.
Lots of huffing and puffing, and to the player’s credit they never gave up trying all game long – as evidenced by that goal with near enough the last kick of the game.
The team selection was a puzzler when it came through. Sam Sodje coming in for Mike Edwards was a brave choice but Martin Allen in fact got it spot on! The Salmon was immense throughout and with Ben Burgess was the only contender for the Notts man of the match. The only thing he didn’t deal with all afternoon was Alan Lee’s flailing elbow in fact!
The first half was quite tense, but the longer it went I felt the more Allen’s men got their footing and finished maybe the stronger of the two sides. Certainly we forced the best chance of the half through Karl Hawley just inside the box but you couldn’t argue with the score at half time.
I’m not one to single out players usually but I think he’d be the first to admit it – Jeff Hughes simply wasn’t at the races.
Jeff’s been a valuable player for us in recent weeks but I was just sensing he was trying a bit too hard at times to make things happen. Ishmel Demontagnac looked sharp in his place – it might not hurt to give him his first start in front of a Meadow Lane crowd next Saturday when Scunthorpe come to town.
It takes some doing to concede a goal inside 30 seconds, so to have done it for the second time in the space of a month or so is massively disappointing. Jordan Rhodes’ header in the opening exchange of the half pretty much undid all of the hard work from the first period.
That said, we were in the game until the Lee sending off, that was the turning point.
For one we’d lost Sodje, but had we been able to get Edwards on in his place you would think there’d have been cover for Krystian Pearce who’d gone to ground under little pressure.
I’d said in my preview for the game that Notts wouldn’t be making any friends during the game – and it was a physically-imposing Sodje who appeared to be spearheading such efforts. Picking up a rather ridiculous booking in the second half to compliment the numerous occasions he’d hit the floor in the first half – the Terrier’s support claim Sam wasn’t even elbowed by Lee! Blatant straight red from where we sat.
Lee Hughes was to come on in place of Karl Hawley shortly after Sodje was replaced, but never really had a sniff in his time on the pitch. Hawley had done little wrong throughout the afternoon – I can’t really say I agreed with this particular switch.
From that point I can’t recall us forcing another chance aside from the goal. Certainly a number of balls were launched into the box – but they were either embrassingly deep or there was no one home to convert!
Huddersfield fans found their voices with the game drawing to it’s conclusion. I’ve already said I have no issue with their unbeaten run of ACTUAL League One fixtures – but to have the brass to sing “we are unbeatable”, just a week removed from a 4-1 humbling away at Swindon (and remember, even Notts won there last season!) was a bit jarring.
Of course it’s a bitterly disappointing result – but the home side never once outclassed Notts on the afternoon. County cost themselves the game, the hosts didn’t overpower us in the slightest. Be happy for the Terriers this weekend as they bask in all the glory of their unbeaten run – I would fully expect Charlton to turn them over comfortably next weekend at the Valley.
In the interest of looking for positives for Notts County – we’re still sixth despite not winning for a month. I said before the game I thought the game would give us a great indication of the season ahead but having kept our playoff spot i’m still no clearer to be honest.
Four of our six defeats now this season have been to the current top four of the division – three of which have all come away from home so I have to say i’d be confident of turning those fixtures around at Meadow Lane. Sheffield Wednesday, MK Dons and Huddersfield are all due returns to Meadow Lane – i’ve seen little against these teams to think we can’t overturn them on the home turf.
Keep around these positions going into January and we’re a far more attractive proposition for transfer targets than we were in the Summer. Some strong additions to the squad might just make enough of a difference to stay in the top eight.
It’s approaching December and we can cross off another month of the calendar and we’re still talking realistically about the playoffs. Further testament to the season we’re currently enjoying.