PDW's match report: Notts County 0-0 Luton Town
A superb reflex penalty save from Walton, the man with arms of Mr Tickle ensured a rare clean sheet and a hard fought point out of the Magpie’s Nest. Whilst a 0-0 draw at Meadow Lane, doesn’t catch the eye or make the heart beat with excitement (nothing does in the drab environment of fourth division football), but it was a good sign we coped better with County’s (or Carrrn tay – if you have the disability of a regional accent) aerial bombardment during the final quarter of the match, they just smashed the ball up towards Fonte and Oliver the Giraffe (formerly on Mansfield books - which says a lot about his football ability. Or lack of, winning a number of corners, which on other days we would have conceded. Apart from the penalty and Dickenson hitting the bar from a powerful header at the far stick, just after Oliver’s miss, Walton didn’t have a great much to do.
It’s another game unbeaten or another game without a game depending on how positive or suicidal your viewpoint is. Without going full blown Arsene Wenger, I didn’t see the penalty incident; all I did see was Hylton clearly heading away O’Conner’s corner, guessing it was for holding in the box. Oliver’s penalty was a nice height, another case of a lower division footballer trying to be too clever and failing. A silly little shuffle, tried to lift the ball over Walton who dived to his right, and with his long arms reaching skyward, he managed to palm the ball away and behind. With penalties it’s best just to get them whacked.
The referee today appeared not to realise there is an advantage rule in Football, blew up far too early numerous times, failing to let the game flow and give the penalised team the opportunity of an advantage. If the move peters out. Then bring it back. . One incident, Jones flipped his lid, as Ruddock was clearly fouled as he spun and raced past Milsom, but the official blew despite the fact Ruddock was racing down the right, bit like a hurdler. Jones went mad as the whole bench did, jumping up and down at the fourth official. Jones had a very valid point, naturally. But unless he learns to calm down, he is a walking heart attack or stroke waiting to happen. Naturally he won’t, because that isn’t the man he is, as he is an intense, driven perfectionist whose blood pressure must go through the roof, during the matches.Can't be good for his health.
There were two changes from last Saturday’s game against Mansfield, both Oxford rejects back in, in replacing Potts and Gray. Mullins did well, although he got a knock towards the end and was puffing hard, understandable since it’s his first game since late September.
Sheehan moved to left back allowing Mullins to slot in alongside Cuthbert. It goes without saying we playing the diamond formation – started with Rea in the holding role, McGeehan the more advanced, Cook and Gilliead the two wider players. Strange as McGeehan looked more effective deeper last week and Cook is better in the number 10 role, although has done very little recently and personally would like Pelly to replace him and have a run out in the cup next week. Apart from the potential finances, the F.A. Cup is hardly the be all and end all as we languish in the bottom tier.
John Sheridan tends to do well in this division, but we will need to be a footballing messiah to get this team promoted this season. They are well organised, Hollis kept Hylton in check ore than most centre halves have managed this season. But lack much of a goal threat. It’s easy to see why they have prospered away, setting up in 4-4-1-1 formation; they looked like a visiting team to stay in the game before having a go in the final twenty minutes or so.
In the first half, they looked ponderous, we pressed high up the pitch, but they were so poor in the ball and their midfield was like the Bermuda Triangle. They looked far better then they opted for the agricultural route, sticking two big chaps up front and just walloping towards them. It’s crude but can be effective. . A lesson about playing to your strengths.
Richards in their midfield shaped with promise, athletic, one of the few home players who knew his team were playing in black and white and not orange this afternoon. The type of player Jones likes. If Richards ends up at the right club, he could be a decent player. Which means he will be playing for Hucknall next season.
First half we played some good thoughtful football. Gilliead oozes class while others ooze puss. Hylton was typical Hylton; a whirling devilish, his jumping ability defies gravity not to mention another booking for a pull on an opponent. Referees should book him before kickoff, it would save time! If he is clever, he could time his next suspension to get Christmas off, as Steve Howard used to do.
We looked by far the better side in the first half, but our inability to hit the target, meant Collin in goal had a quiet afternoon. Marriott is working very hard, but his touch belies a lack of confidence. He will get his form back, far too good a player not to and it is duly noted a lack of good service doesn’t aid him. If we had a decent alternative in the striking ranks, which we don’t. It might be a good time to take Marriott out of the firing line for a game or two.
It was a bit strange as we played like the home team and County the away side, as we started the most positive and brightly. Notts were encamped in their half, Collins isolated up front with only Campbell able to give him more than nominal support. A pretty thankless task for the Wolves loanee.
Hylton and Gilliead were the two players in the thick of most of our good play. We passed the ball well, it was noticeable the midfielders gave the defenders more options, than last week, when it was like watching a rather laboured game of pass the parcel. Although Cuthbert did hoof it a bit uneccessarily, out for a goal kcik. His defending was splendid.
Hylton capitalised as Milson daydreamed, a pass into Marriott, disposed by a strong tackle by Laing, injuring Marriott, but fortunately he was only winded. Marriott turning infield from a SOD throw, his low strike could only fill the out stretched boot of Hollis.
We were pressing them quickly and given the fact Notts were poor and predictable in passing, being slothful in decision making, which isn’t really a good combination.Gilliead, such a graceful player and that rarity of being a player worth watching in this division, dipped his shoulder and galloped past Richards and Milson, into Marriott, who squared the apses for Cook to shot, though with Hollis closing him down and the flight of the ball high over Collin’s bar, it must have been a deflection. If the referee was right, it was truly a terrible effort.
Most County attacks were stopped at source by Rea, who had a fine game. He has become a vital player already in a small period of time. If he could out the needless, silly fouls, so much the better, but it comes with playing in that position.
A deft pass by Richards aimed for Collins, deflected kindly for Campbell who had enough time to shot which hit Cuthbert and sailing over.
Hylton rolled Duffy cleverly and run down the right flank, with no support, he could only loop an effort into the near post, which was purely catching practice for Collin.
Whilst we were dominating possession, if not really looking like scoring (the first half summed up in a nutshell), the hosts almost took the lead, Milsom, played the ball out to the left to Fonte, a striker playing on the left wide (a tactic favoured by Luton managers during the joyous Conference years), his low pass sort out Collins, a wonderfully timed interception by Mullins saved us, although Collins should have done better then side footing the second opportunity wide.
Cook’s short corner found Marriott his centre, wonderfully cleared out by Hylton, his “ shot” went out for touch parallel with edge of the penalty box. Daniel dear boy, you see those three white sticks if you can through your Phantom of the Opera Mask, you are trying to get the ball between them. No need to thank me. A rare moment, one to tell the grandchildren about, a cross by O’Donnell cross which found a Luton player, Hylton’s knockdown towards Gilliead, he managed to get half a yard on the defenders, but not enough beef in his shot to trouble Collin.
Rea broke up Richards’ forward pass, sending cook on his way down the left, Hylton rose like a tin of John West above Duffy, but couldn’t direct the ball anywhere near the goal. Rea was the first player booked for a foul on Richards, it was his third or fourth foul. However he produced a brilliant clearance off the line to preserve our clean sheet. Laing whacked in the free kick, Hylton the highest jumper once again but his attempted clearance knocked the ball towards the far side of the penalty area, Collins looped header, looked for all the world to be sailing into the far corner, but Rea somehow got back and saved a certain goal.
Gilliead’s pass towards Marriott, his first touch in the left channel got him away from gaol and therefore was unable to do any better than find the side netting. Campbell’s touch give Milsom an opportunity to play in Rodman raiding down the right touchline, well blocked by Sheehan, Notts retained the ball with Milsom shooting over with a speculative effort.
The best move of the game started from Gilliead, into McGeehan laying the ball off to Marriott who did well to find enough space after beating Hollis to shoot inches wide.Rodman was the first Nottingham player in the book, pulling back Hilton after getting the wrong side of himSheehan playedthe free kcik in from the left touchline, a powerful header by Rea back into central area of the six yard box, eventually County cleared their lines after a right old scramble.