On the back of their stirring fightback at non-league side Boreham Wood, County have had a busy week, including a replay victory to secure a home tie against Peterborough United in the second round. Goals from Jonathan Forte, and a late screamer from loanee Aaron Collins were enough to see off Boreham Wood but this proved to just be an escape from County’s worrying league form.
Heavy losses against Blackpool and Newport have seen the Magpies drop to 12th in the table, and although the play-offs are still in sight, fans are now perhaps beginning to nervously look over their shoulders as we approach the busy Christmas period.
County’s first game of the week saw them travel to fellow play-off hopefuls Blackpool, hoping to claim 3 points and solidify the playoff place they occupied at the time. Unfortunately for John Sheridan’s side, what was to follow was an abhorrent performance in which they shipped 4 goals to the Seasiders and had striker Vadaine Oliver sent off. County were opened up again and again by Blackpool, and with strikers as dangerous as Kyle Vassell and Jamile Matt, County were always going to be punished.
Vassell opened the scoring when he latched on to a deflected shot and finished low past Adam Collin in the County goal. Blackpool should have made it two when Matt rounded the keeper, but he sent his effort well wide with the goal gaping. Gary Bowyer’s side did eventually get the second goal their play deserved when Vassell once again broke through, and his shot was parried into the path of Colin Daniel who was left with a simple tap-in. Matt made it three just minutes later when Vassell’s deflected shot fell his way and he finished with ease. Things went from bad to worse for County when Oliver was given a straight red for a double-footed challenge with 10 minutes to play, and Vassell would capitalise on more dreadful defending to grab his second and Blackpool’s fourth late on.
After the result John Sheridan told BBC Radio Nottingham that it was the worst performance of his managerial career, and that his “inept” team wouldn’t beat a pub team in their current form.
Luckily for Sheridan his players responded to that criticism as they edged past Boreham Wood in midweek, a side much better than most pub teams, yet the standard of performance was still below par.
This would show at the weekend when County faced up against Newport County, a side who although in the bottom half have been revitalised since Graham Westley was appointed boss just 1 month ago. The difference in confidence and quality was evident, as the Exiles strolled to a 3-0 win at Meadow Lane, leaving County without a home win since late September. Sean Rigg opened the scoring for the away side when Richard Duffy brought down a Rhys Healey in the box, and Rigg was able to knock in the rebound after his initial effort was saved. Healey then grabbed a goal for himself when he was afforded far too much space on the edge of the box, and his powerful drive found the top corner. Newport made the points safe in the second half, when Josh Sheehan scored with a stunning half-volley from 25 yards.
Sheridan knows now that changes must be made in order for his side to find form, and a game against Cambridge on Tuesday provides a good opportunity for County to try and push themselves back up the league table. Fans should stick with Sheridan for now but if results don’t improve, they may be looking at their 8th managerial sacking in just 5 years, a stat which must change if County are to find any sort of consistency.
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