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Natty last won the day on November 7 2017

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  1. Yet more evidence that the team is slowly turning the corner under Harry Kewell. There has been a clear improvement since HK took charge in terms of what Notts do when they have the ball. The "frightened rabbits" we witnessed against Yeovil and FGR are no longer there. Notts are now beginning to play decent incisive football and are looking dangerous going forward. Hemmings might've had a hat trick on another day, and Stead went close to adding to his converted penalty. It was particularly pleasing to see Milsom and Husin getting stuck in and winning the ball in midfield. This will only be enhanced when Kellett is fit again. Alessandra put in, IMHO, his best performance for Notts........its clear that Kewells' philosophy suits his game. I was impressed with new boy Jamie Turley in his 45 mins at right back. He's a big strong lad, mobile, doesn't try to do anything too fancy, and won't take any s**t from opponents. In fact, he's just what we want from a L2 centre half. He took a bang in the ribs so was subbed at half time as a precaution, but HK says he's hard as nails and it won't keep him out next week. I look forward to seeing him play in the centre alongside Ward, as soon as Tootle is ready for starting again. Duffy is out for quite a while and Brisley will surely be the one to make way in the middle. I doubt we'll see much more of either in the first XI. I thought Cedric Evina did ok too, but he's not the biggest of players, and will sometimes struggle against physical opponents. He can play though, so will be an asset when we have possession, and he's not short of pace. He combined well with Boldewijn...of course they'd played together at Crawley...... and he can deliver a decent cross. But of course, we still have the same old trouble at the back, and three more conceded. It'd be harsh (as it would've been last week) to put the blame on Fitz. He should maybe have done better with the first one, even though the scorer was left unmarked, but he couldn't be faulted for the other two. However, his confidence is low, and with Pindroch now obviously fit enough for the bench, I think its maybe time to take Fitz out of the firing line and take the pressure off him. Notts began to falter in the last 20 minutes through fatigue...and that's when mistakes happen. There were some very tired legs out there. I heard Mark Stallard on the radio on the way home, and he's at a loss to explain the players' poor fitness levels so early in the season. But HK is working hard to improve it, and I'm sure we'll see a change in the coming weeks. All in all, there is much positivity to take from this game. Confidence is slowly returning and the playing system HK wants to use is gradually sinking in. It wouldn't surprise me to see the keepers swapped over next week, especially if Pindroch plays in the reserves at Port Vale on Wednesday, and comes through without any bad reaction. There are others returning to fitness too, and of course Jones has now completed his suspension. It's coming together. Natty
  2. Surely it makes no difference to us ? As fans, we will always call it Meadow Lane, no matter what its called "officially" by the sponsors. I really don't mind what they decide to name it. Besides, it would likely change every season, anyway. But whoever takes it on, there's money coming in for it. If I had my way it would be called The Jimmy Sirrel Stadium. Then we could all just call it The San Sirrel.
  3. The record books say that Exeter won 5-1 and that's the only stat that really matters. But those who didn't witness this game may have seen the result and jumped to a slightly unfair conclusion. Notts were obviously well beaten on the day, but this performance wasn't as poor as the scoreline suggests, and in fact the two games under Kewell have produced hugely better performances than we saw against Yeovil, FGR and Lincoln. Let me state right here that Fitzsimons was not at fault with any of the goals, and made a couple of good saves in the later stages to keep the score down. Exeter are not the passing team they were under Paul Tisdale. They now concentrate on hitting long balls down the channels, using the physical presence of Stockley to lead the line (although, for a big strong traditional lower league centre forward, he does have a tendency to whinge and whine at referees over the slightest contact from a big strong traditional lower league centre half !! They don't like it up 'em!!) If he put as much effort into his job as he did into complaining, perhaps he'd be playing at a higher level. For the first 25mins Notts were the better side, and might've easily taken the lead. Boldewijn, Hemmings and Dennis all fired narrowly wide, and Hemmings also hit the post. They were comfortable at the back, easily dealing with the long ball, and playing it around between themselves. But then a set piece proved their undoing. The corner was played to the far post and the scorer rose totally unchallenged. Fitz got a hand to the header but couldn't keep it out. A minute later it was two. Notts still in disarray from the first one, and nobody cutting out a low cross to the far post. But Notts' heads didn't drop. They rallied and fought back. Boldewijn's great strike just before the break put them right back in the game. They went in 2-1 down but Exeter had only had 3 attempts at goal, compared to 5 or 6 for Notts. Another corner after the break, and the ball was inexplicably handled by Oxlade-Chamberlain. Penalty. Notts now had to change things and chase the game, throwing men forward. Stead and Patching were introduced and gave Notts fresh impetus. Stead hit the side netting, and he, Patching and Alessandra all had shots charged down. An attempted cross from Milsom was clearly handled inside the box but the referee waved it away, only for Exeter to go straight up the other end and score their 4th.....which left Kewell incensed and resulted in him being sent from the dugout. There's no excuse for him overstepping the mark but he was right. The ref recovered his eyesight to see another handball...this time by Boldewijn....but they missed that one. Notts kept going and the home keeper was forced into a superb save to deny Boldewijn from 15 yards. Then another quick break exploiting the gaps Notts had left at the back gave Exeter a fifth. A mixture of fatigue and defensive gambles in chasing the game. If this game had finished 3-1 or 3-2 it would've been a fairer reflection on the play. 5-1 is a touch harsh on Notts. But that's how it is when you're bottom of the league. But the football is definitely improving. As fitness improves and key players return from injury I'm certain Kewell will turn it around. Natty
  4. I think maybe....just maybe.....our season is on the brink of being kickstarted by the change of management. This may have been the Mickey Mouse tinpot joke cup. I don't suppose it was anywhere near a full-strength Grimsby side. But the fact is that for a good hour Notts put the misery of the last month behind them and pretty much played their hosts off the park. We were treated to a display of passing football, which totally belied a team supposedly bereft of confidence. We were playing the ball out from the back, with intricate short passing through the midfield, and good movement. No sign of the "frightened rabbits" of Saturday. It was a joy to watch at times. It wasn't perfect. Fitz had a couple of hairy moments in the first half, and got away with them. But he had been immaculate in the second half, catching everything cleanly and making a couple of excellent saves, until the 88th minute when he fumbled the ball under pressure and presented Grimsby with the winner. I think the time has come to take him out of the firing line. Pindroch joined in with the warm up but wasn't in the matchday squad, but he can't be far off ready. Or maybe there's a new keeper coming in ? Up front Stead and Hemmings worked hard and effectively, well supported by Boldewijn and Alessandra, but the cutting edge wasn't quite there, despite both strikers forcing very good saves from the home keeper, and Stead only being denied by a last-gasp tackle after a great run and cross by Boldewijn. After half time there were changes. Dennis replaced Hemmings, and Hewitt replaced Husin (who had played very well, but taken a heavy knock earlier in the game). This seemed to upset Notts' rhythm a little bit, and coupled with some changes to the home side made the game more even. Grimsby got their equaliser through a penalty on 70 minutes and that gave them the initiative a bit. Notts' heads didn't drop.....it was just that Grimsby had their tails up. But still it took another goalkeeping error to decide the game. Very impressed with Ward. His foul gave the penalty away but that was his only mistake of a convincing performance. Get him paired up with Davies and they'll be ok. Kellett had a fine game at left back, as did Oxlade-Chamberlain on the right. Alessandra had a very good game and Milsom and Husin (until his injury) were both superb in the centre. If Kewell can have this much impact in two days, what can he do in two weeks ? Natty
  5. Come Christmas, I will have been going to Meadow Lane for 48 years, and I have been a regular away traveller for 40 years. I can safely say that never in that time have I witnessed a Notts team so spiritless and devoid of confidence as they were yesterday. To use a well-worn cliche, the ball is like a hot rock. Nobody wants it or really knows what to do with it when they get it. They are terrified of making mistakes......which then makes mistakes more likely.......and there's nobody willing to take responsibility, take the game by the scruff of the neck, and show any authority. No leader. FGR must've thought Christmas had come early. They're not a great side but they're well organised, have a set pattern of play, and they all know their jobs...which breeds confidence. They arrived in Nottingham unbeaten in the league and there was never any danger of that changing yesterday. They'll have very few easier wins this or any other season. It didn't help Notts' cause that injuries meant using a makeshift defence. Hewitt is not a centre half, and Hawkridge is not a full back. The faster we get Tootle and Hall fit the better. Davies will be available for next Saturday. Of course we now have Jones out for 2 or 3 games after his r*d card. The referee was roundly booed for sending him off, but I can tell you for certain that it was a bad challenge and the ref had no choice. I'm not sure wether Jones left the ground, but he certainly went in two-footed and that's serious foul play. No argument. Harry Kewell has his work cut out. Hopefully he'll bring a breath of fresh air into the club and get some confidence into the players. They need organising from back to front. They need to be given jobs and told what's expected of them, without expecting too much. If Kewell can at least get them organised and back to doing the basics properly I think there is enough talent to get out of this awful mess. It'll be interesting to see wether we bring in one or two free agents over the next week or two. Hardy hinted at this in his pre-match interview. A goalkeeper, a midfield ballwinner, and perhaps a left back please. Natty
  6. The time had come, and I think Hardy has made the right decision. However, I don't think its as simple as bringing in a new manager. We still need a centre half, a left back, and a ball winning central midfielder.
  7. Same old crap. Same old answers from Kevin Nolan. "We have to focus and work hard and make sure the boys are ready for the next game"...pretty much what he said last Friday night, and again on Tuesday night. To be fair, only the second goal was down to crappy defending.......Fitz trying to punch clear but colliding with Tootle. But Notts only managed three attempts at goal in the 90mins. I fully expect to see at least two new signings in the coming week. Maybe Nolans' hand will be forced by injuries to Duffy and Tootle. We are currently looking well short of bodies in defence, let alone quality. There's a thin line between success and failure.....and I get the feeling that one decent win with a clean sheet will make a world of difference. BUt I think its going to take additional signings to bring that about. Natty
  8. Don't be fooled by the 3-2 scoreline. This was a truly awful display by Notts, and was embarrassing to witness. The home crowd were actually laughing at Notts' ineptitude, and began chanting "You're f**ing s**t" The immediate response from 185 very embarrassed travelling Notts fans was to join in and agree with them. It really was that poor. Newport were stronger, faster, more alert to every loose ball and challenge. They're not a great side by any means but it was easy for them. Notts were incapable of making an effective tackle, and Newport were able to push the ball around and through us without breaking sweat. Nobody in the away seating could believe it when Dennis squeezed home the equaliser on 87 minutes. It was one of only two shots at goal in the second half, whilst Fitzsimons had made a couple of excellent saves to keep Notts in the game. If Notts had brought a point back it would've been daylight robbery and completely undeserved. So nobody was at all surprised when Newport then scored a late winner.......gifted to them, like the other two goals.....by an utter shambles of a defence who are taking incompetence to a new level. Kevin Nolan has simply got to use the loan window to bring in at least one centre half, a left back, and a ball winning midfielder. It's no use trying to turn it around with this current squad as it is, because sticking with this defence will likely very soon cost him his job, and could well end up costing Notts their League status. It really looks that bad at this moment in time. If Notts play as poorly on Saturday as they did tonight, Lincoln are going to run riot. Natty
  9. I was way too angry and shellshocked to type anything last night. I sat down at home with a large glass of something, gathered my thoughts, and then slept on them. In the sober light of day, I still don't know what to make of it. After a fine display at Middlesbrough I couldn't really argue with the team selection. Felt a little sorry for Steady, who has been playing well so far, and it was a toss-up between Husin and Kellett for a starting place, if Notts were going to revert to 4-4-2. Both played really well on Wednesday night. But I half expected them to keep the 3-5-2 formation and play a centre trio of Vaughan Husin AND Kellett, especially with Tootle unavailable. We don't have capable cover for either full back, so starting three centre halves seemed logical to me, even if one of them is either Jones or Hewitt. Pierce Bird can do a job too if he has experienced men around him. But we are sometimes too quick to point fingers at the back five when goals are flying in. The fact is the midfield have to take their share. Thomas and Boldewijn are eager going forward, but neither look willing to track back and help out. Vaughan is starting to look a good ballplayer but he's not quick enough to shut down opponents when we don't have the ball. Husin looks a touch lightweight to be taking L2 games by the scruff of the neck. All too often Yeovil were allowed to get through us with the ball, without anything like a strong enough challenge. We seriously need some steel and authority in the middle. Can't fault the strikers. We might've been three up inside the first 20 minutes and with Dennis still a little rusty and still getting to know Hemmings, I think regular goals will come in time. We need to bring in three players. A left back (is Oxlade-Chamberlain right-sided?), a "gorilla" of a no-messing centre half, and an uncompromising midfielder to win the ball and give it to the creative players. I don't believe we have the capability in this existing squad. I know this back four did well last season, but the midfield has largely changed, and with it the ethic of dropping in to cover and work for each other has gone. Hopefully Nolan can find two or three loanees to sort us out. If he can't, he's got a lot of work to do to get what he wants from this squad. Natty
  10. Starting XI: Fitzsimons Hewitt Duffy Bird Hawkridge Crawford Husin Kellett Jones Stead Alessandra Subs used : Campbell Patching Brisley Not used : Dunne, Osborne, Thomas Pindroch withdrawn from starting XI after being injured in the warm up. A string of changes from last Saturday as KN gave his fringe players some game time. In previous years we've gone home saying that nobody had staked a claim for the following match. Not the case this time. Husin, Kellett and Crawford ran the show as Notts were more than a match for a 'Boro side who also rested much of their senior squad. Crawford fully deserved his debut goal and only faded in the last half hour as the furious pace of the game began to take its toll on him. Bird also had a good game, and Alessandra put himself forward for Friday with a fine, hardworking display. Given that Hemmings, Vaughan, Thomas, and Boldewijn are likely to be restored to the side on Friday night, it'll be interesting to see how Notts line up. I suspect that Tootle is carrying a knock, having been subbed at Cambridge. Jones played the full 90mins last night, as did Stead and Duffy. Not ideal when you're over 30 and your next game is only 72 hours away. I therefore think we'll see a change of formation. I can see Notts starting as they did last night, with a back 3, and a 5-man midfield. I'm a bit reluctant to stick my neck out and try to predict the starting XI..... but I'll be surprised and disappointed if Kellett and Husin aren't in the middle with Vaughan, and I believe Alessandra will start up front with Hemmings, because Dennis isn't quite fully match fit. 271 Notts fans made the trip, in a crowd of 9,942....double what I thought there'd be....which was probably down to Middlesbrough slashing prices to just £10 for adults. Thanks to them for that. Also, thanks a bunch to the inconsiderate a**eholes, s**theads and b*****ds who make up the Dept of Transport, for closing large sections of the Southbound A1 last night, forcing us to divert to York through the winding countryside of the old A19, then onto the A64, before rejoining the A1 just North of Leeds. This stroke of genius put an extra 50 miles and an extra 90mins on our return journey. I crawled into bed at 2am. Natty
  11. I've been saying for a week or two now that I wasn't expecting Notts to make a flying start. The perceived "first XI" didn't play together at any time during pre-season so the side has still to gel and build an understanding. With so many new signings it won't happen overnight. This wasn't a great performance. It was at times disjointed and lacking a pattern. Notts spent most of the first half hitting long balls and getting nowhere against a very tall and strong Colchester defence. It wasn't until after half time that Notts began to push the ball around on the floor and then they created a couple of decent chances. In time I think this will come together. I thought Nathan Thomas and Enzio Boldewijn both looked useful., as did Kane Hemmings who clearly has a footballing brain. But I fail to understand the fuss over David Vaughan. Certainly he played a lot of passes.....but the vast majority of them were backwards and sideways. He's not (so far) looking anything like the creative attacking midfielder we need. And at the centre of defence we look every bit as vulnerable as we did last season. There's no pace at the back except for Jones...and HE can't defend. It's too early to be making judgements but based purely on this display there's a lot of work to be done.
  12. Thanks everybody for the birthday wishes !!! Much appreciated.
  13. Years ago, during the Warnock era, I had a conversation with Mick Walker, who was youth team coach at the time. In those days they would take on ten YTS trainees (now called "scholars") each year, so that the youth squad would consist of twenty players.....ten first year and ten second year trainees. I think that's the way it still works to this day. Mick told me that if just TWO of each batch of ten went on to play professional football......wether at Notts or anywhere else......it was considered a successful year for the club's youth setup. I think overall during Mick's years as youth coach they probably beat that "target", but it gives you an idea of what the club expected at that time from its youth policy. Times....and standards.....have changed since then. Expectations probably have, too.
  14. When we bring in promising young players like Tom Crawford and Will Patching, and give pro contracts to home-grown lads like Alex Howes, the idea is of course that they will develop into good players and help the first team to future success. If they do that, its inevitable, even if we climb up a division or two, that there will be bigger clubs interested in taking them. Quite apart from the financial benefits to the club of selling a player for a decent fee, its not morally right to hold onto a young player if he has a chance to make his name at a higher level. There can be a temptation to bring on too many kids in the hope of cashing in later. But I don't think for a minute Notts will go too far that way. Nolan has brought in experience for his first XI. Howes, Crawford and Patching will be seen as "for the future" just like Noor Husin. If they can break into the first team and hold their own, then great. But they won't be considered first choice players just yet. Wouldn't surprise me if they went out on loan, maybe to the National League, to gain first team experience. As for Crewe, I think there was/is a financial situation at Gresty Rd which forced their hand a bit, and meant they had to rely on young (ie cheap) players rather than bringing in experienced senior players. If you're as old as me you'll remember the Notts squad of the mid 1980s which included the likes of Paul Smalley, Darren Davis, David Clarke, Tim Dalton, Tony Daws, Mark Jones, Simeon Hodson, and David Beaver. All home-grown youngsters, all full time professionals at 18, but all (with the exception of Clarke) playing part-time by the time they were 22. Notts didn't have two pennies to rub together at the time....our then manager Larry Loyd once told the press he had to ask permission from the chairman to buy a postage stamp. So they were forced to offer pro forms to many more of their youth team squad than they normally would've done. They paid the price by being relegated to the old Division Three.
  15. I think it WAS a penalty. Lewis was standing outside the box but his hand was inside. But that's not to say the ref was good, because he certainly wasn't.

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