After nothing short of a mauling in midweek, manager Gudjon Thordarson insisted, once again, on the importance of his side going ‘back to basics’.
Making five changes to his starting line-up including the surprise return of one Emmet Friars from his loan spell at Telford United, the Magpies boss was, once again, looking for a positive response following the club’s pitiful run of late that has seen the Magpies go nine games without victory.
Yet, as is true of many of their performances of late, Notts still failed in managing to net a single goal, having scored just once in their last seven league outings.
Adopting a 3-5-2 formation, Notts clearly had a point to prove, one very much epitomised by midfielder Lewis McMahon, whose performance emulated his form over the opening games of the season.
And, true of his commanding display today, it was McMahon who opened Notts’ bank of chances for the afternoon, with the former Sheffield Wednesday man rifling a volley over the crossbar of Carlisle ‘keeper, Keiren Westwood.
With Notts looking at ease with the ball, stroking the ball around the park with a deal of elegance, McMahon almost managed to snatch the Magpies a first-half lead, only for ‘keeper Westwood to block the shot of the combative midfield man.
Against the run of play, however, Carlisle had managed to find the back of the net, as a well executed cross found Carlisle’s Karl Hawley, only for his header to be ruled out for a shove on Magpies youngster Jake Sheridan.
Striker Glynn Hurst had a shot deflected wide of goal when he looked odds-on to score, whilst Carlisle ‘keeper Westwood acquainted himself with the locals when he clattered striker Steve Scoffham shortly before the break.
The referee, who took charge of his first League game yesterday, shirked away from the no-brainer of a decision, however, on the grounds of the ‘keeper having ‘pulled away’ from the tackle that saw the former Gedling striker substituted at the break as a result.
Westwood, somewhat fortunately, had dodged the bullet, and indeed a dismissal thanks to the rookie official’s decision – or perhaps lack of it.
Prior to the break, and at the other end of the pitch, the Magpies were given their second wake-up call of the half when Carlisle were allowed to grab a free header in the box. Carlisle man Raphael Nade managed only, however, to head wide of the mark, much to relief of many of the 5,347 fans in attendance.
Half time: NOTTS COUNTY 0-0 Carlisle United
With Scoffham now crocked, the half time whistle – besides being met by a chorus of boo’s aimed in Messrs. Whitestone’s direction – saw the introduction of loanee David McGoldrick.
The 17-year old, who replaced the somewhat ineffective Scoffham at the break, is currently on loan from Southampton, although his current deal expires early this week.
Unfortunately, though, the second half proved only to highlight Notts’ attacking frailties, even despite one of Glynn Hurst’s better performances this season.
With Carlisle closing down much more intensely, even the efforts of McMahon were not enough to break down their Cumbrian visitor’s rearguard.
The game unfolding before the now impatient home faithful hardly made for compelling viewing, with the second half hardly complimenting the first, with chances very much at a premium.
When a chance did arise, however, it was surprisingly Julien Baudet who the ball fell to, only for his shot to be deflected behind for a corner.
And, with minutes to spare, second-half substitute McGoldrick put through the otherwise excellent McMahon to wrap the game up, only for the former Wednesday man to glance his shot across goal and wide, failing to seal an accomplished performance with the goal it deserved.
The cruel reality of the situation was McGoldrick failed to see the club’s top-scorer, Glynn Hurst peeling away to his left. An unconscious mistake that could well have cost the Magpies a much-needed victory.
Regardless, however, the Magpies’ winless streak now stretches to ten games, leaving manager Gudjon Thordarson to ponder just what it will take to secure victory for Notts, whose last triumph came in the local derby with Mansfield Town at the back end of August – over eight weeks ago now.
Full time: NOTTS COUNTY 0-0 Carlisle United.