January...by Pies4u

By Michael Leafe
Last updated : 30 January 2008

Well, as 2007 came to an inauspicious end - on the back of two festive reverses, we rolled into 2008 with a tricky away trip to Hereford while the month concluded with a midweek visit to Brentford.

Between the two fixtures it was the typical rollercoaster of inconsistency, frustration and occasional elation for the "Magpies faithful".

Bastians...Arrived in January


A "Happy New Year" was the hope for all Notts fans and we were optimistic about replacing some of the misfiring and, frankly, inadequate squad members with some talented, fresh, new faces.


Cue the arrival of loan players Felix Bastians, Ali Gibb and the notorious Guy Branston, together with the signing of Gavin Strachan on an 18 month deal.

Notts were in need of a boost but the much needed and anticipated arrival of a striker eluded us. This was also the month in which we saw the departure of the highly talented Krystian Pearce, back to his Premiership home of Birmingham City.

Paul Mayo was loaned out to rivals Darlington - and promptly scored for them on his debut.


More highlights were to come, in the form of the long awaited and much deserved Jimmy Sirrel tribute dinner and portrait unveiling, plus the return to competitive action for the much missed club captain Mike Edwards.


After a creditable goalless draw at Hereford, it was back to the Meadow Lane

Branston...Susepect debut
mediocrity and another lacklustre defeat at the hands of Stockport despite having taken the lead courtesy of Stephen Hunt.

Apart from anything else this game will long be remembered as the debut, albeit brief, of Guy Branston in County's colours.

Living up to his reputation for being "over physical" and incompetent he managed to be at the heart of defensive blunders that cost us dearly, got cautioned and hurled torrents of abuse at all and sundry around him. He then failed to re-appear after half time, having sustained an "injury".

Fortunately, he did not recover and we were spared any further sight of him abusing officials, randomly scything down opponents and generally making a complete nuisance of himself.

On the other hand, we also sadly lost the creativity of Neil Mackenzie, who required further surgery and had, clearly, been hampered in the outings that he had managed.


The long awaited victory, and a goal from a striker, failed to materialise in the next game, at Bradford - a match which marked the debuts of Gibb and Strachan. It also resulted in a fairly uninspiring 3 - 0 defeat and plunged Notts into deep trouble at the foot of the League Two table.

We had endured six games without a win, only one victory in 11 league matches and no striker had found the back of the net during this sticky

Sirrel...Massive highlight
period.

None of this provided much comfort for the increasingly "punch drunk" supporters.


The JS Dinner marked the off field highlight of the decade, let alone the month, and the very prospect seemed to act as a catalyst for an improved home performance against a poor Chester side.

Aside from Adam Tann's goal, we were privileged to witness a match winning save, of "Banks like" proportions, from Pilks.


The 1 - 0 victory provided a vital confidence booster and it was followed by another hard fought point gained on our travels at the football outpost of League Two newcomers Morecambe.


This game was significant for three main reasons. It signalled the return to first team action of the sorely missed Mike Edwards and it was also memorable for Richard Butcher, who recorded his ninth league goal of the campaign.

It was equally note worthy for the failure of the Notts' strikeforce to find the target for the 13th successive time!


So, off to Brentford - still awaiting an away victory to add to the scalp of Accrington and for a goal from a striker. Neither arrived but a third game unbeaten and a clean sheet concluded an eventful month - 18th in the League and 6 points clear of the bottom two.


This was a turbulent month on and off the field - so much to be pleased about yet so much frustration, disappointment and acrimony accompanied it.


The highlights have to be the recognition bestowed upon our greatest ever manager. The respect, admiration and love that we have for this man is beyond words and the emotion, nostalgia and affection around the 1862 Suite on Tuesday 22 January 2008 was magical and unforgettable for those fortunate to experience it.

It was such a pity that the much loved Jack Wheeler was unable to attend, but that was the only blot on an otherwise colossal and momentous evening.


T

Edwards...Long awaited return
he return of Mike Edwards was also a critical point in the season to date. His influence has been greatly missed and it is a relief to have him back in action.


On the pitch, the occasional brilliance of Pilkington and the goalscoring prowess of Butcher were the main plusses. The lack of fire power, the manager's persistence in selecting the hugely disappointing Dudfield and the haunting memories of seeing the Branston in a Notts shirt were the month's abiding disappointments.


We even had a "Fans Forum" where Club and Trust officials met with supporters for a general exchange of concerns, viewpoints and opinions.

Overall, a hectic and eventful month - and a hugely significant one in my view.


Much hard work is still required but the signs are that, with others slipping, Chas and Dave may have, just about, turned the corner. Things look much brighter now than they did a few weeks ago.


A stable back four, a more balanced midfield and a confident keeper - all that is missing is the elusive goalscoring striker (or two?).

Another, "oh, what might have been season" enters its final third and we still need to ensure that we protect our Football League status above all else.


Roll on February! C'mon U Pies.

Watch out next month for February...by trickypies