MORE REPORTS AND REACTION
Notts' late late show helps overcome Stags
by Richard Brown
Notts. County MAD
Just days after a brace at home to Bristol Rovers, Glynn Hurst was on-hand to claim his fourth goal in two games, as the Magpies triumphed in today's derby encounter.
In the glorious August sunshine, Notts completed an equally glorious 3-2 victory over local rivals Mansfield Town thanks to a five-minute double salvo from the Magpies.
Mike Edwards headed home his side's second equaliser of the afternoon on 82 minutes, before Glynn Hurst smashed, emphatically home from point-blank range to ensure the Magpies remained top of League Two.
These strikes came after Hurst had already levelled after Richie Barker's strike and Gareth Jellyman had given the Stags the lead for the second time.
Notts boss Gudjon Thordarson named a side with two changes – albeit with those having been forced through injury – with David Pipe and Matty Gill both left out of the sixteen man squad after picking up knocks in the Bristol victory.
The pair – along with Rob Ullathorne – remained doubtful right up until kick-off, though both were eventually replaced in the starting side by Stacey Long and Lewis McMahon, respectively.
Changes aside, however, Notts started in the same, forceful manor that has typified their excellent start to the campaign.
Seconds into the game, and both Hurst and Steve Scoffham had already badgered their opposition into mistakes right from the off.
Within five minutes of the kick-off, the smash-and-grab pairing had mustered up their first chance of the afternoon. A Hurst lay-off released an again hungry Scoffham who was unlucky to drag his effort just wide of his arch-enemy Kevin Pressman's post.
Despite Notts' promising start to the contest, it was Mansfield who were to strike first. After a collection of what are now considered slap-stick defensive errors from Gudjon's men, Richie Barker adjusted well to slot home past Kevin Pilkington, returning to his former haunt for the first time since his summer move.
But, where the Notts of old would have crumbled and wilted under the pressure, County only came back stronger forcing an equaliser almost immediately from their hosts.
When McMahon was brought down on the edge of the box, captain Julien Baudet smashed a free-kick into the wall.
However, Mansfield were unable to complete the clearence, with the ball falling invitingly for Scoffham, and then Hurst for the South African-born striker to net his 100th goal in league football with a typically predatory strike.
After parity was restored, one couldn't help but feel that the game had lost its bite. The tempo settled, and the 1,700 travelling Notts support were educated with the fact that their side, under Thordarson, are equally capable of a scrap as they are (on their day) pure, unadulterated football. A fine, balanced art, indeed.
The half would have paled into nothingness had it not been for a clash between Pilkington and Mansfield's Chris Beardsley.
The striker charged headlong into the challenge with the Notts custodian, with Pilkington berating the young forward's rash challenge.
News, post-match, however, suggests it was Beardsley who was to feel the brunt of his actions, after having picked up a broken tibia (or, in laymen's terms, a broken leg) that could see him ruled out of action for a substantial period of time.
Before the half was out, the Magpies had a fairly credible claim for a penalty turned down as Scoffham raced through on goal. Pursued, and subsequently toppled, by Mansfield defenders, the former Gedling Town man went to ground only for the claims to be waved away by 'referee' Mr. Laws.
Half time: Mansfield Town 1-1 Notts County
Notts begun the second half in very much the same mind-set as they did the first. Quickest out of the starting blocks, Gudjon's men were hungry oncemore. The fight was back, as was the bite and it looked for all the world that Notts would capitalise on their progress.
Dan Martin – who replaced an ineffective Chrissy Palmer at the interval – provided a new outlet for Notts, as his more down-to-earth, steadied approach replaced the often unfruitful, yet slightly more emphatic efforts of Palmer.
But, despite Notts' decent start, much like the first half, it was Mansfield who managed a goal first.
On the hour, Pilkington – otherwise steady today – was guilty of ball-watching to let in Gareth Jellyman for the Stags' second.
From a long Town throw-in, Barker flicked over the onrushing Pilkington for Jellyman to pounce on the former Manchester United 'keeper's concentration lapse. A blunder that earned him his fair share of, ahem, approval from the home crowd.
Another substitute, Jake Sheridan also provided Thordarson with food for thought ahead of Friday's trip north, as his introduction for the subdued Long added some promising forward advances to the Magpies' attacking play, with his pin-point crosses and tireless running causing problems for Jellyman at left-back.
Despite Sheridan's introduction, however, Notts, for extended periods, failed to press with real conviction, as they waited till the 82nd minute before pulling level.
The unlikely figure of Edwards, nonetheless, burst forward to head home a pin-point McMahon corner. His goal was his first for the club, and was the perfect tonic to a troublesome thirteen months with the club.
With the score at 2-2, Notts grew in confidence.
With Andy White having taken Scoffham's place up-front in the 79th minute of play, Notts' attack looked revitalised, with White's stature causing real problems for the rearguard of his old club.
So much so that, five minutes after Edwards had pulled the score back to two-a-piece, White muscled his way into the box striking the ball goal-bound that Hurst smashed home to secure a spectacular win for his team.
In a five-minute surge, the Magpies had succeeded in not only levelling the scores, but pulling ahead of their opponents to claim victory.
Substitute Martin came close late on for the Magpies, but Pressman's (cough, splutter, choke) athletic stop will remain trivial to the overall outcome of the day, as – with the chant "We are top of the league!" still bellowing from the away support – Notts finally claimed victory over their bitter rivals. The first away win in seven league encounters for the Magpies.
What a way to break the duck.
Full time: Mansfield Town 2-3 Notts County
Sure, the victory came in somewhat fortunate circumstances. But considering the retched luck Notts County have endured over the years, few – this end of the A60, at least – will begrudge Gudjon's men a slice of luck.
After a rousing performance, a vocal 1,700 strong away following thoroughly behind their team for the whole game were rewarded for their endeavour by three points, bragging rights and, if all of the above was not enough, celebration at the final whistle, with the players and Thordarson himself enjoying the moment with the fans.
Top of the League…we're having a laugh.
WIN IS ALL IN THE MIND FOR NOTTS
EVENING POST, 30 August 2005
Mansfield Town 2 v 3 Notts County
Change has been rampant for both Notts County and Mansfield since that day in October last year when the Magpies caved in at Field Mill.
That was a day when Notts were totally outplayed in a 3-1 defeat and gave in with a spineless performance, lacking the passion needed for a local derby.
Both sides have new managers and new players. But, while much of the squad remains the same at Notts, their character is clearly different.
It was miles apart from their last visit.
But the change is not necessarily in the football Notts are capable of playing because, at times in the second half, they seemed short of ideas.
Instead, the change is in the mindset of the Magpies' players.
Manager Gudjon Thordarson has instilled a new self-belief in his squad; an attitude where hard work and commitment are as important as skill.
The onus is on the team keeping its shape and patience. If the game is not going right, then Notts simply keep working until they pull it back.
Twice yesterday they went behind, but instead of giving in, they battled back and eventually snatched the points at the death.
Richie Barker put the Stags ahead when he got in between Julien Baudet and Rob Ullathorne on the right of the penalty area before firing a precise low shot into the far corner.
Notts were level within three minutes. Baudet's poor free-kick bounced off the Mansfield wall and Steve Scoffham pounced on the loose ball in the area.
He ran it into the path of Glynn Hurst who shot straight into the back of the net.
It was the first of two for the striker who went on to make it four goals in two games over the Bank Holiday weekend.
After the equaliser, the game went quiet for a long time but Kevin Pressman denied Scoffham's superb drive after he broke free before making another great save from Brian O'Callgahan's point-blank header from Lewis McMahon's corner.
However, a nasty injury marred the half minutes before the break. Kevin Pilkington, returning to his former club, came charging out of his box to clear, but Chris Beardsley dived in late and clattered the Notts stopper.
Pilkington offered a few harsh words in the ear of his former team-mate for the rash challenge, before it emerged that Beardsley had in fact injured himself in the process.
He was carried off on a stretcher with a suspected broken leg.
From that moment on Pilkington was constantly booed by the home crowd.
But it was Notts who felt aggrieved on the stroke of half-time as Scoffham broke into the box and looked to be pulled down by Jon Olav Hjedle, but the referee waved play on.
Mansfield started the second half well. Barker hit a shot just over after turning O'Callaghan inside out and Simon Brown shot just wide.
But on the hour a howler by Pilkington gifted Mansfield the lead. He came out past his front post to deal with a long throw but misjudged it. The ball was flicked into the box by Barker and, with Pilkington stranded, Gareth Jelleyman stuck it into the empty net.
It looked like it would cost Notts their unbeaten record. But Thordarson brought on Jake Sheridan on the right of midfield and former Stags striker Andy White and it made a difference.
Although Sheridan was lucky to escape a red card after a bad challenge on Jason Talbot, he was a threat down the wing. And White's height caused Mansfield concern.
And with eight minutes to go Notts found a breakthrough. Mike Edwards met McMahon's corner from the left and headed past Pressman.
Mansfield faded and four minutes later the visitors got the winner. Pressman produced a superb save from Dan Martin, the ball fell to White who saw his close-range header cleared off the line by Alex John-Baptiste, but it fell to Hurst who made no mistake from close range.
White should have scored late on before Pilkington got down well to save from Brown.
Notts again demonstrated the ability to recover from going behind in games.
Although Notts are sitting at the top of the table, they are not playing their best.
But, as Rob Ullathorne said last week, they are grinding out results.
At Mansfield yesterday they hardly looked world beaters. But they are mentally strong and that is why they are unbeaten in six league games and topping the table by three points.
A lot has changed since Field Mill last October. Maybe it is Notts' turn to mount a promotion challenge.
Mansfield, on the other hand, will know that more change is required if they hold similar aspirations.
PALMER: STAGS PAY PRICE ON SET PIECES
EVENING POST, 30 August 2005
Carlton Palmer today said his side had only themselves to blame for defeat, warning: "We have to learn to defend set pieces."
The Mansfield manager felt Stags had done enough to deserve victory.
"I was disappointed, very disappointed. But we lost this match because we cannot defend from set pieces," he said.
"With ten minutes to go, I thought we were coasting. In football terms, I thought we were the better side. Notts play how they want to play, any football that was played was played by us.
"But we didn't defend set pieces, we have conceded eight of them now, and you will get punished when that happens.
"We've got to get better at it, because no matter how well you play you will lose matches if you can't defend."
Palmer made five changes and was pleased with the overall performance.
"I made changes because we have played a lot of football, we had a long game on Tuesday, a tough game on Saturday and I wanted to freshen things up," he said.
"I wanted fresh legs in the middle of the park. The changes were not a problem, because we played well, the issue was set pieces."
Chris Beardsley was carried off the pitch with a suspected broken leg, after a first-half collision with former Mansfield team-mate Kevin Pilkington.
The Notts keeper was a target for abuse from Stags fans afterwards, but Palmer said: "I don't think it was intentional, it was two honest players going for the ball."
WE HAVE DUG IN AGAIN SAYS PROUD PILKINGTON
EVENING POST, 30 August 2005
Kevin Pilkington made a winning return to Field Mill and enjoyed putting one over his former club.
The Notts County goalkeeper spent five seasons at Field Mill before his move to Meadow Lane in the summer.
He received a good reception. But after a collision with Stags striker Chris Beardsley, which saw his former team-mate go off with a suspected broken leg, the crowd gave him some stick.
It came near the end of the first half when Beardsley went in late on Pilkington as he came out of his box to clear and the Stags striker injured himself.
Pilkington said: "When I first came out I got a good reception and then after Beardo's challenge they started giving me a bit of stick but it is expected.
"I am a Notts County player now and that is where my loyalties lie. They are the ones who pay me and that is who I want to play for.
"We have dug in again and shown what good qualities we have. We work for each other and pull each other out of the mire."
Pilkington was at fault for the second goal as he came out to collect a throw-in, but was stranded as Richie Barker flicked it on for Gareth Jellyman to score.
But he said: "I was disappointed with the second goal but to get three points was superb. I am delighted. We have great team spirit and six games unbeaten is superb. We need to keep that going and we are strong enough to do so."
Mike Edwards scored Notts' equaliser and admitted he was delighted to finally get on the score sheet.
The midfielder headed home Lewis McMahon's corner and said set pieces are key to being successful.
He said: "It was nice to finally get on the score sheet. We showed great character and deserved the win. It was not one of our best performances but we grafted for each other .
"We have been working on set-pieces and put them under pressure. The gaffer said 'make sure you are attacking the ball', which we are doing. And it is paying off.
"We are making ourselves hard to beat and you have to fight to the end. We did that against Mansfield and it works."
Edwards believes being top of the table will make other teams raise their game against Notts.
"We have moved on and everybody is working for each other and keeping our shape.
"The rest of the boys who are in the squad are doing great, not just the starting 11. Everybody is working hard in training and the camp is brilliant. Everybody is upbeat and everybody will get their chance."
WE WERE ROBBED!
Next Story | Previous Story | Back to list
Notts County's changing room was raided by thieves during their match against Mansfield Town at Field Mill.
Notts' coaching staff alerted police after the final whistle of the Magpies 3-2 victory yesterday.
The away changing room had been targeted and a number of players had money and valuables stolen.
They included wallets, mobile phones, jewellery and an Ipod.
About a dozen players lost items and the club has drawn up a list of things each player reported missing. This has been given to police.
Notts goalkeeper Kevin Pilkington had a chain and Ipod stolen and said: "A lot of stuff has been stolen.
"The lads are not happy. We cannot believe it but we hope it is sorted as soon as possible."
Police interviewed people at the ground and were continuing their investigation today.
A Notts County spokesman said: "A number of items have been stolen and Mansfield Town and the police have been made aware."
No one from Mansfield Town was available for comment before the Evening Post went to press.
Latest | August 2005