Saturday’s loss on the south coast was essentially a classic Notts performance of late unfortunately.
Seeing lots of the ball, some nice interchanges here and there but ultimately travelling home with nothing to show for it despite taking the lead and hitting the woodwork twice.
Having missed the Doncaster game last week in the FA Cup I was looking forward to seeing Liam Chilvers and Hamza Bencherif’s performances and came away impressed. Chilvers work all afternoon was fantastic including one great block on a goalbound effort, whilst Hamza looked a hundred times the player I saw against Huddersfield two weeks ago.
His free-kick which gave Notts the lead after just five minutes was spectacular also. Watch it on YouTube here.
Obviously it’s disappointing to lose but it’s not as if the players aren’t putting the effort in – they’re pushing themselves to the limit every week but right now it’s just not happening. With that said the two goals conceded we’re calamitous though, especially the second.
Pretty much every travelling supporter was screaming for a tackle to be made but it didn’t come. What did come was a pass into Fogden who put the winning goal away.
The outcome would’ve been very different had Jeff Hughes shot in the first half gone in and not bounced off the underside of the bar before being cleared to safety. These exactly the kinds of margins that Notts are finding themselves up against lately.
Similarly, Ishmel had a fantastic opportunity in the second half to give Notts the lead when through one on one on goal. Zubar got back to make a great tackle – but why Ish’ didn’t even take a swing at the ball is a cause for huge frustration. He’s exactly the type of player who could do with a goal (like Hamza now has) to get the crowd behind him.
It was just that one passage of play that summed up the side so well. We’re just so blunt in the final third – had their been another goal-scoring striker brought in we’d definitely still be in the playoff positions. We know it’s not for the want of trying on Martin Allen or the board’s part – but maybe that only adds to the dissatisfaction to some people?
The slide continues which is a worry, bottom half of the table for the first time since the opening weeks of the campaign.
We’re still not in a relegation battle but it looks increasingly likely that the season might rest on this month’s transfer budget. I don’t think anyone at the club is under any illusion of what’s required – it’s just whether the money is available to achieve it.
The problem that Martin Allen has left himself is that he set expectations too high with the start to the season we had. Memories are still fresh of Carlisle, Forest, Juventus, Hartlepool and Chesterfield amongst others – it’s hard to comprehend that we’ve got the same players but aren’t getting anywhere near those highs right now.
With every passing week though right now it feels like Notts will be left to cling to their League One membership for another season before a Summer clearance of upto 15 out of contract playing personnel. The starting XI’s nucleus is fantastic on it’s day – reinforcements would see County challenging for promotion next season.
There’s still time to claw the season’s potential back. County currently sit nine points outside of the playoffs – but eight away from the relegation zone. A big display against MK Dons on Saturday would be a decent start all told.
It took them long enough to put away Notts’ ten men at the beginning of October so Allen will know his side can mix it up with Carl Robinson’s side.
Let’s hope that the recent draw against Huddersfield has more of a bearing on the squad’s mentality than this weekend’s defeat on the south coast.