In simple terms, Notts County – although far from their best yesterday – did exactly what they had to do. They’re professional footballers doing a professional, well calculated job against non-league opposition. Simple.
And, although it was true that maybe the players may not have been as motivated as they should have been, there can be no qualms that the win was no less deserved.
Looking at the match stats in hindsight to the result, the fifteen corners won by the Conference outfit seems the most telling a sign of the account that they gave for themselves.
By the time the final whistle had been blown, the feeling of relief was very much at the forefront of the crowd reaction, with the Magpies having won through to scoop the £16,000 initiative.
Woking looked strong throughout the first period, managing to hold off their league opponents to good effect – although ultimately failing to create the chances where it mattered, with a breakthrough looking unlikely, even despite the toil of their ox-like attackers, providing a constant menace to the Magpies defence.
Julian Baudet, when he should have cleared, showed the signs of strain when he tried to be the Fancy Dan business only to needlessly concede a corner under pressure.
However, it was the Magpies who were to open the scoring, against the run of play.
When Notts countered, Glynn Hurst was first to the ball on the break only to be hacked down by Woking's Jon Boardman in the area – his challenge earning the non-leaguer a straight red card for his professional foul.
Amid strong – and perfectly justifiable protest– from the Woking camp, Julian Baudet, yet to miss a penalty this season, stepped up to defy professionalism in it’s most amateurish form from former Spurs trainee, Shwan Jalal.
Baudet stayed true to form, however, to slot home his third penalty of the season ten minutes before the break.
Players, without naming names, looked complacent, unwilling and as though they were not completely appreciative of their position.
Thankfully, some remained consistent. Namely Stef Oakes, whose ever impeccable eye for the perfect cross-field pass opened up new alleys for County to attack, albeit at times blindly.
However, the Cardinals mounted attack after attack, keeping the Magpies excellent defence on their toes. Many of the fifteen corners won by the Conference dwellers amounted to Notts’ rearguard in a scramble, not least Saul Deeney.
The young Derry-born ‘keeper, whose impressive form as of late has all but cemented his name in the starting XI, showed in his inexperience when he strayed from his goal on a regular basis leaving his defenders to sweep up his spills, and save his blushes.
David Pipe went off injured on 68 minutes, after picking up a knock from a late Woking challenge, with Tony Scully – exempt from the side for the past fortnight – replacing the stricken Welshman.
And, ultimately, it was Scully’s contribution that was to decide the match. His outstanding cross, deep into stoppage time, picked out Gavin Gordon beautifully who headed home for his fourth of the season, taking the tie beyond reach.
This was not before, however, Stef Oakes had seen his long-winded effort saved by Jalal after a ‘Chrissy Palmer special’ produced the save of the match from the Iraqi goalkeeper, who leaped full-stretch to keep out the former Derby youngsters volley.
FULL TIME: Notts County 2-0 Woking
Job well done, it was indeed. Ian Richardson, we salute you.
More reaction to follow from NCM.