The NCM 2011 Review - February

As the joyous hysteria of January's good form, good performances and the mere fact we were playing some football games again drifted into the slightly less frozen wasteland of February, all Meadow Lane eyes were focused on one thing - the FA Cup replay at Eastlands against Manchester City. In fact, the league was put to one side to such an extent that it is perhaps the most forgettable month of the year in terms of League One, with two wins, a draw and a defeat. Although that would look like Barcelona-esque form if we were to fast forward a couple months.

The month kicked off with one of many re-arranged home games, against struggling Walsall at Meadow Lane. Almost a month to the day since an emphatic 3-0 win in the reverse fixture, the decimation of the Notts squad was highlighted by a tepid performance in a 1-1 draw, although we nearly won it with the Saddlers' winner coming late on courtesy of one of Stuart Nelson's customary mistakes. Another home game followed against Exeter City, with this one being even more insipid - a truly dire performance leading to a 2-0 defeat to the play-off chasing Grecians.

One point from two winnable looking home games was a poor return indeed, but things were improved somewhat three days later when Colchester United visited Meadow Lane on a freezing Tuesday night. First half goals from Craig Westcarr and an absolute bullet header into his own net by U's defender Nathan Clarke sealed a 2-0 victory. In truth, every one was just waiting for the main event by this point though and we headed across the Peaks to Manchester determind to enjoy a well deserved replay against Tevez (back when he wasn't being so much of a whiny bitch) and his mates.

Okay, Manchester City did eventually win 5-0, but that is far from the full story of an entertaining game amongst a sea of empty sky blue seats. Notts dominated the opening exchanges against their illustrious opponents and, after Krystian Pearce had headed inches over the bar, the turning point came. Goalless, luckless and often hopeless forward Karl Hawley picked the ball up out wide, jinked inside and tried his luck with a wicked shot that bent, curled and had Joe Hart sprawling desperately across his goal. As it was, the former Shrewsbury man (last seen against Notts saving a penalty from Julian Baudet) was beaten but the inside of the post wasn't and the ball squirmed agonisingly away. Then, after an unfortunate Pearce own goal, City began to dominate. It wasn't until late on that they really had their fun though, despite Patrick Vieira doubling the lead, goals from Tevez, Dzeko and Richards didn't arrive until the final five minutes. We did ourselves proud.

With the month's main event over it was back to the humdrum of League One and a televised Friday night fixture against Chris Powell's Charlton Athletic, who were in the process of plummeting alarmingly down the table. In our fourth home game of the month, a goal that was turned home by Neal Bishop's left arse cheek was the deciding factor, although Stuart Nelson's penalty save from Bradley Wright-Phillips also contributed plenty to a hard fought 1-0 win. At this point, mid-table mediocrity looked positively secure. Who could've seen March coming...