Forest and County

Last gasp equaliser saves Nolan from MOTM ‘curse’

September was an extremely impressive month for both Notts County and manager Keving Nolan, as the ‘Pies boss Nolan was awarded the coveted Sky Bet League Two manager of the month award, despite only being in the job for less than a year. Nolan was awarded the trophy at meadow lane and Impact were there to see him receive it.

Nolan was gracious for his award, but true to his character and was keen to pass the praise down to his back room staff and players

“of course I’m delighted. But it’s obviously not just me who’s worked hard for that it’s my team, my backroom staff and even my medical staff who work hard to make sure my players are available day in day out and then the players, if they don’t perform it’s a reflection on me, but they’ve been magnificent the last 10 games, and hopefully it’s the first of many.”

September itself was perhaps the best in the memory of any County fan for a considerable amount of time, and it began with a hard fought 1-0 win away at struggling Port Vale, in which Nolan’s man management was hailed has he sent on Lewis Alessandra who scored with his first touch of the game, and County held out for the win which would spur on some outstanding performances for the rest of the month.

A 2-0 home win over Morecambe was next, as a stunning free kick from summer recruit Dan Jones and a late strike from Johnathon Forte granted the home fans the win which they are quickly becoming accustomed too under Nolan. Another home game and another clean sheet quickly followed for County, who this time saw off Swindon town with a 1-0 win thanks to Jon Stead’s first-half penalty.

County’s next fixture saw them travel to Crawley Town, managed by former Liverpool and Leeds manager Harry Kewell, and another 1-0 win was enough to bring the points back to Nottingham and round off an impressive 4 clean sheets in a row for goalkeeper Adam Collin. The next game came back at Meadow Lane at home to near rivals Lincoln City, who came to play football, but were torn apart as Notts ran out 4-1 winners and truly outclassed the Imps, in a result which put County top of league 2.

Yet County’s most impressive result of the month was yet to come, as a top two showdown beckoned at Paul Tisdale’s Exeter City. Despite Exeter being in a similarly rich vein of form, it was the ‘Pies who produced a scintillating performance, in which they triumphed by 3 goals to nil. The final fixture of the month was away to fierce local rivals Mansfield and the fairy-tale month came crashing to an end as County were beaten 3-1 comprehensively, nevertheless it was a tremendous month and this minor blip wouldn’t stop Nolan from picking up the Manager of the Month award.

Nolan was quick to downplay the award just as he is quick to downplay a defeat which is testament to how he goes about his work, it is clear to see he values the hard work of everybody else around him and hinted last week that he finds it hard to switch off.

“I struggle to sleep, I’m always second guessing myself, was that the right thing to do or was that the best way to tell that player a certain thing.’”

The sleepless nights nearly got worse as County still sitting top of league two took on bottom of the league Forest Green Rovers, at Notts’ community day which was a family day arranged by owner Alan Hardy, with full price tickets slashed to £10 and free tickets available for students which saw a bumper crowd of 13,350 storm the meadow lane turnstiles.

A first half goal from Omar Bugiel looked like crashing the party as County couldn’t get to grips with the game at all, with only 1 save made from the Forest Green keeper in the entire match perhaps speaks volumes of County’s performance, they seemed nervous at the prospect of defeat and now they were staring it straight in the face.

The last 10 minutes were incredibly frustrating as balls were lobbed hopefully into the box to no avail with Ameobi coming closest but still wide of the mark. However, County were able to snatch a draw from the jaws of defeat, as last season’s player of the year Rob Milsom met a Eliott Hewitt cross, and the ball trickled over the line to continue Nolan’s incredible run at the lane, having lost just once since he took over last season.

Liam Kenny

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