For some reason Notts always seems to get the same teams in the cup. First it was Middlesbrough, and then it was Doncaster Rovers and now Bradford City. The Bantams. The ‘Yorkshire Galacticos’.
Notts had put 7 goals past this ‘sleeping giant’ in two games so far this season, including 5 on the opening day of the season. Hans Backe opted for 7 changes in his first F.A cup game, giving Ade Akinbiyi and Karl Hawley a start together – a fairly contentious decision as neither had any real pace and their real strength is holding the ball up and bringing others into play. Bishop, Clapham and Hunt were all part of a makeshift back five with Edwards and Hoult making up the rest. The midfield was the only area that remained largely untouched, apart from Ricky Ravenhill replacing Craig Westcarr.
The game was by no means a pretty affair. The referee refused to let the game flow and was, by all accounts, awful. Notts did however start the better and Ritchie, after running down an attempted clearance found his shot blocked and fall wide. Moments later, Hawley jinxed around in the box before the colossal, John Terryesque, Zesh Rehman bundled him over and much to most of the grounds annoyance denied Notts a blatant penalty. As the move carried on Akinbiyi had a cross-shot which found the top of the bar before bouncing out of play.
Ben Davies and then Stephen Hunt then saw long rang shots go narrowly past the post. Notts were unlucky not to have the lead as a lacklustre Bradford couldn’t cope with Notts’ keep ball tactic which wasn’t very pretty but highly effective. A long ball over the top found Notts’ back four flat footed and as Evans raced through it looked as if Bradford would take an undeserved lead but Hoult, who has performed well for Notts in his 3 league appearances so far this season, narrowed the angle and saved brilliantly to deny the Bantams forward.
With half-time approaching it looked as if Notts’ pressure would go unrewarded. That was until stoppage time. A flurry of shots were blocked by the Bradford defence and goalkeeper until the ball bounced to Hawley who unleashed a powerful shot which Eastwood struggled to handle and could only divert into his net which saw Notts take a 1-0 lead into half time.
Notts came out and wasted no time in adding a second, after a brilliant team move Jackson jinked his way past two defenders before wrong footing Eastwood and sending the ball into the left hand corner of his goal. This was pretty much game over and only the referees awful decision making gave the Notts fans something else to shout about. Ritchie received a kick to the head whilst challenging for the ball and rightly or wrongly the referee decided not to give a foul. However, he did not allow the Notts physio to come on even though it was a head injury.
Ritchie nearly added a third for Notts as Akinbiyi played him in but Eastwood saved well down to his left. Boulding then came on for Bradford and bagged himself a goal after some hesitant defending by Notts he prodded the ball past the overly exposed Hoult to set up a tense last 10 minutes. However, it was Notts who looked the more likely to score as opposed to Bradford earning a replay with Davies and Westcarr being denied by the excellent Eastwood. The visitors had a shout for a penalty turned away when Boulding was challenged by Neal Bishop and James Hanson came close with a header, but it was to be Notts who went through. The final whistle signalled an F.A cup giant-killing which was met with delirious Notts fans not knowing when this dream would end. First Munto, then Sven and now beating Bradford City. Could this season get any better?
Notts Co - Hoult, Bishop, Edwards, Hunt, Clapham, Davies, Ravenhill, Jackson, Ritchie, Akinbiyi, Hawley
Notts County 2 (Hawley '45, Jackson '46) Bradford City 1 (Boulding '80)