If there’s one thing this staggeringly poor run of results has taught me, it’s that Balint Bajner could well be the key to anything we forge this season.
Clearly lacking in match fitness (or else why would Shaun Derry take him off?), his first half at Boundary Park this afternoon was one of very few positives in a 3-0 defeat. He’s strong, a threat in the air, adept with the ball on the floor, and seemingly he represents a genuine goal threat. But what’s the catch? If these are the tools he possesses why hasn’t he proven it so consistently in his career? Let’s not forget, he wasn’t even taken on by Tranmere when he was there on trial.
But you bring strikers in to score goals. As promising as he may be he’s yet to do that – and when you take in the Facebook furore surrounding him since his signing, there are already people growing tired of Bajner, and particularly the lack of a party. And sadly little of it is of his own doing!
With his Boundary Park exit, also went any bite Notts possessed going forward. After a much promising start in which Notts could easily have won two penalties, one wicked ball into the box and a harrowing deflection in the centre of the park saw Derry’s side 2-0 down in the space of a few minutes. From being the better side, to out of sight in a matter of self-imploding minutes. Ever the County way.
Could things have been different? Very much so given a strange lenience from the referee to not award a penalty in the very least to Bajner who had very clearly been wrestled to the ground. Liam Noble picked up his customary yellow card in the first half for a late challenge, yet an Oldham player went unpunished for a carbon copy moments after. All we ask for is consistency. You can’t excuse a 3-0 defeat, but you can certainly picture the game going differently with Notts in the ascendancy and having a stonewall penalty turned down. Oh well.
Whilst the hosts did add a third goal in the second half, it wasn’t even a contest by that point. The travelling support of just over 250 (somewhat down on last year’s 3,500) had already grown tired. Ultimately no amount of quality diagonal balls, dangerous balls into the area of ball winning tackles (of which there were a good few of each) is going to mask a 3-0 scoreline which stemmed from a lack of protection for the centre backs with the new pairing of Curtis Thompson and Liam Noble in midfield. We wanted it, we got it. Next week it’s more than likely Gary Jones will return in the stabiliser role.
It had been a midfield pairing that offered much hope and which would have lifted the spirits of those giving up their freezing cold Saturday afternoon. If you’re losing games 3-0 that you go into supremely confident, it’s definitely a time for concern.
Also catching the eye was the constantly raging Roy Carroll. As much as we wouldn’t be without him, his is supposed to amongst the examples the younger elements to the squad look up to. The alarming rate at which he is picking up cards can’t not be a concern for those running the club.
As I say, no positives in the world are going to make up for another resounding defeat. Without question the football is better than it was a month ago as we do actually manage to test goalkeepers these days, but it’s time to discard any hope of making the play-offs and concentrate solely on gathering up the 15 points needed to cross the 50 barrier. Might that take going back to a boring style of play? Quite likely, but at least we were picking up results.
It’s very much become a season of transition rather than stability at this stage. Chesterfield are the visitors to Meadow Lane next week ahead of a trip to Leyton Orient a couple of days later. The fixtures don’t get any easier particularly when you’re in the run of form Notts are currently in.