An unchanged Magpies side were denied their fifth consecutive home victory by a stunning equaliser from, dare I say it, a former Forest employee.
Eighteen-time Scottish international, Eoin Jess delivered the killer blow to the Magpies with a sublime strike from well outside the area, equalising after Notts had twice gone in front. Rough justice, perhaps, that the goal came in such spectacular fashion, and indeed from a former Nottingham Forest man; but the goal was nothing less than Northampton had deserved after playing their part in one of the most entertaining games seen at the ‘Lane in recent seasons.
The two teams matched each other yard-for-yard for much of the game, with clear chances coming very much at a premium. Mike Edwards, however, will be disappointed with an effort that he could only cushion to the chest of ‘keeper Lee Harper at early doors.
After Chrissy Palmer had broke away from his man, the former Derby youngster delivered a vicious ball into the box, one that Edwards could only manage to aim straight at the Cobblers ‘stopper. This came shortly after Lee Crooks tried his luck with an audacious 35-yard free kick – to little effect, however.
Much of the very early exchanges saw Notts’ midfield succumb to the experience of Ian Taylor, who simply bossed the midfield for the Cobblers. The former Derby and Villa man imposed his presence on a Notts side that were, at first, unhurried in defying the veteran. As the game began to mature, however, Notts were able to counter his presence with the shear persistence of David Pipe, who badgered the veteran at every given chance, silencing the former Premiership regular’s influence on proceedings.
Northampton, however, were not to be totally out-done, as it took a sprawling Julien Baudet to deny would-be Notts player, Jason Lee from opening his account with his new club, as the Frenchman dived at the feet of the former Forest striker to prevent the visitors from snatching an early lead.
The former Forest man had come close to signing the Magpies last week; up until, that is, the club failed to stump-up an eighteen-month contract for his services. Judging on his performance last night, the club had made a shrewd move in not buckling to the striker’s bombastic demands.
The Magpies, however, were very much the pacesetters during the first half, and were eventually rewarded for their doggedness when a Mark DeBolla throughball slipped under the boot of yet another ex-Forest player, Chris Doig.
After having gone two years without a Meadow Lane goal to his name, the Welshman has delivered twice in as many games with only his fourth goal for the club.
Twenty minutes passed to the break with precious little to report, aside, that is, from the shocking late tackle from Dyche on winger-cum-full back Chrissy Palmer. After having nipped the ball away from the burly defender, Dyche followed through with a crunching boot to the leg of the former Derby County trainee – a ‘tackle’ for which he was, of course, cautioned for.
Half time: Notts County 1-0 Northampton Town
The Magpies, after having quietened down as the half drew to a close, came out of the blocks at a neck-breaking pace, clearly not content on sitting back on their slender lead. With fireworks sounding around the stadium, Pipe let off a rocket of his very own, as his volley almost shaved the paint from the cross-bar, as he shaped up well to unleash a shot of some conviction goalwards.
Whilst the game produced few chances, the encounter was proving to be one of the most entertaining games seen at the ‘Lane in quite some time, as the interests of both sides, for a change, were purely footballing. Something which, considering the dipping standards of many sides in the lower reaches of the game, can only be good news for the game.
What was not, however, so widely welcomed – especially from the Notts fans’ viewpoint – was the introduction of the predatory Andy Kirk, who recently started his long-awaited comeback from injury. Meanwhile, for Notts, Jake Sheridan replaced the tireless Mark DeBolla alongside Eugene Dadi, making only his second appearance for the club.
Northampton, however, followed up the scramble soon after with an equaliser from Jason Crowe. The full-back – who netted for Grimsby Town last season at the ‘Lane – kept his cool to head beyond the reach of an unlucky Kevin Pilkington who, before this point, had had little to deal with during the evening.
Where once Notts would have buckled under the pressure of their opposition, the Magpies came back just as a strong and were soon – inside six minutes, to be precise – back in-front when an in-swinging Palmer corner picked out the towering figure of Crooks in the penalty area.
The former Manchester City man – from just a matter of yards – managed to head home to put the home sides’ noses back in front, marking his first goal as a Notts County player.
The spectacle proved endless, however, when Jess popped up to open his account as a Northampton player, a whopping seven months after signing. The goal had proved well worth the wait, as Kirk picked him out in acres in space, giving him time to delicately volley over the stranded Kevin Pilkington.
Whilst no credit can be taken away from the strike, the Magpies will not reflect on their defending with much satisfaction, with the otherwise spotless duo of Palmer and Kelvin Wilson having been caught off-duty in the very worst way for the goal.
Minutes later and the game could have been flipped entirely on its head when substitute Kirk popped up at the far post to complete the seemingly simple task of smashing home. Pilkington, however, had other ideas, and was able to scramble the striker’s effort out of play.
Shortly before the final whistle, Sheridan picked up his fifth booking of the season – one that will earn the youngster an automatic one-match suspension.
Full time: Notts County 2-2 Northampton Town