Imagine having last seen Notts play at home to Carlisle on the final day of last season and then waiting until Saturday to return to Meadow Lane. Bad luck big brother, bad luck…
After a week’s worth of turning points, seeing us pick up 7 points out of 9, expectation was high ahead of the visit of Yeovil and for the first time in a long time the Notts faithful genuinely thought 3 points would be more likely than none. The big issue of the week had been the collective sweat on the fitness of Theirry Audel due partly to his injury and to the fact that Richard Duffy was also suspended. How odd does that sound? Fans worried that Richard Duffy being injured would hugely hider our chances. How times change…
What transpired was that Audel wasn’t fit enough to start and as predicted Haydn Hollis partnered Elliot Hewitt at centre half. Apart from that Notts were unchanged and started brightly. Mark Yeates and Jorge Grant combined neatly down the Notts right on two occasion and each forced saves from the Yeovil goalie. Whilst both were comfortable saves, it showed Notts’ early intent and ability. Notts continued to dominate but never really threatened again; the pitch didn’t help proceedings and when pitched against Yeovil’s negative, containing tactics Notts never fully imposed themselves on the visitors.
The second half carried on in a pretty similar vein with Notts in the ascendancy but Yeovil stood firm and stifled Notts when given the opportunity to do so. Haydn Hollis had two decent chances with back post headers but his marker just did enough to ensure he headed wide. Both wide men got in behind again but failed to get meaningful efforts on targets, Yeates in particular should’ve drilled low across to Ameobi instead of going high into the golies hands. Even though Notts dominated throughout, Yeovil nearly nicked it late on but Adam Collin made a good save high to his right to keep the scores level and the points shared.
Even though many fans left feeling deflated, at 2.55pm you’d have taken 0-0; a clean sheet, another point and a very solid performance. Yes Yeovil were poor, but Notts weren’t great, so to dominate as we did was good to see.
The one thing that did leave me feeling disappointed was Nolan’s refusal to make changes as the game went on. Michael O’Connor and Rob Milsom have been key components of our recent form but looked tired after 65 minutes and an injection of pace and energy at that point was desperately needed. We had plenty of midfield possession but lacked the drive and urgency to scare Yeovil too much. That lack of drive and urgency wasn’t purely down to O’Connor and Milsom, but Nolan should’ve shuffled the pack.
It seemed clear that the likes of Curtis Thompson, Jon Forte and Tahvon Campbell needed to be introduced and for the latter, introduced earlier to give us some legs and impetus in forward areas. Yeovil were there for the taking and were vulnerable down the sides, so to not exploit this seemed odd to me. It was very obvious that Nolan didn’t want us to lose, but the way we controlled the game and the opposition saw us hold a strong position throughout the 90 minutes it smacked of Nolan slightly lacking the ambition to take all 3 points and really shake up our season. This isn’t the biggest issue, all points are good points, but I think Saturday was a real chance to take all 3; we might not be in that position many times over the next few weeks.
One player who didn’t lack drive and urgency was young Josh Clackstone. He maurauded with enthusiasm and endeavour from right back on many occasions, especially in the second half and gave us a real option on the opposite flank to the outnumbered Marc Bola. Whilst his final ball lacked quality at times, it was very encouraging to see such a solid and spirited performance so early into his Notts career. He could’ve even been slipped in by Jon Stead late on after a lung busting run from deep, but Stead never looked up and the move fizzled out. Bravo young man and hello to the Clackstone clan who obviously enjoyed seeing their mans name on a few tweets come Saturday evening.
Another mention should go to Haydn Hollis who marshalled the Notts defence superbly all afternoon; he has all the tools to be a good League 2 and League 1 defender when given his orders and sticks to them; well played to the Selston Socrates.
8 points from 12 should be sweet figures to all Notts fans; well done Mr Nolan and well played gentlemen, onto the next one.