Forest and County

Nolan’s Magpies in lucky 10-man escape at NG2

Three games into his managerial tenure at Notts County, Kevin Nolan was able to record his first win last weekend, with a tightly-fought 2-1 win against Crawley Town.

Nolan had previously overseen a stalemate against local rivals Mansfield, before they travelled to play-off chasing Grimsby Town. There, in what was a relatively one-sided affair, Nolan’s men succumbed to a 2-0 loss, as goals from the much sought after Omar Bogle, and Scott Vernon were enough to claim victory for the Mariners.

Bogle opened the scoring when County’s defence allowed him far too much space inside the area, leaving the in-form striker with a relatively simple finish past Adam Collin. Bogle then turned provider in the second half when his shot was parried into the path of Vernon who was able to find the net on the turn.

That result left County in the relegation places, but Nolan would not have to wait long to claim his first victory, which saw County rise to 21st in the League Two table. Before Crawley arrived at NG2, the Magpies were on a run of 14 league games without a win, and home fans hadn’t seen a league home win since September.

That run looked set to continue when, after a goalless first half, Curtis Thompson saw red when he pulled back a Crawley forward who was looking to break, a poor decision by the midfielder as he had already been booked. However, the home side took the lead when French defender Thierry Audel forced the ball in after his original header had hit the post.

That looked as if it would be enough to earn County the three points, but Crawley hit back when James Collins found space 25 yards out, and the striker curled in a brilliant effort which went in off the underside of the bar, something which I’m sure most football fans would agree makes a goal look even better. But County fans were perhaps not as quick to appreciate Collins’ goal, as it seemed that their long wait for a win would continue.

That is until the last minute of the game when Michael O’Connor picked out Haydn Hollis who’s shot was saved by the Crawley keeper, but Jonathan Forte was on hand to smash home the rebound, making it 2-1 to County and ensuring that Nolan would get his first win as boss, with the new manager punching the air emphatically on the final whistle.

“Nolan will surely consider these as, to employ the commonly used cliché, “6 pointers”

The result will hopefully spark a revival for County, and along with the signing of Mark Yeates from Blackpool, the first signing since their transfer embargo was lifted recently, fans can begin to hope of a decent run of form for the club. Nolan has also registered himself as a player in the last week, perhaps hoping that he could use his own premier-league experience to keep the Magpies up, and hopefully start to move up the table.

Along with Yeates, a flurry of transfer activity at Meadow Lane occured on the final day of the January window with loan signings of Arsenal defender Marc Bola, Nottingham Forest’s Jorge Grant, Hull defender Josh Clackstone and West Brom’s Tavhon Campbell until the end of the season. Former Newcastle United striker Shola Ameobi is also on trial at the Nottingham club.

County’s next matches see them up against fellow teams in the bottom six, as they travel north to face Accrington on Saturday, before a home game against Cheltenham on the Tuesday after.

Nolan will surely consider these as, to employ the commonly used cliché, “6 pointers”, knowing that two wins could see County distance themselves from their other possible relegation rivals.

Jimmy Moorhouse

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