Magpies held to goal-less draw

Last updated : 25 September 2005 By Richard Brown

The sense of indifference from the County fans at the final whistle spoke volumes of just how poor a match this proved to be.

As the fifth place Magpies took on a lowly Rushden & Diamonds side, many, irrespective of previous meetings, would have expected a cakewalk. Rushden, however, proved anything but a walkover, defying their slow start to the season to keep the Magpies at arm’s length for the duration of the encounter.

El Capitan
Notts, however, were helped little by their oh-so painful long-ball strategy, after having abandoned the purist’s choice of outright football long before today’s kick-off.

In a side missing the near-ever presents of striker Steve Scoffham and captain, Julien Baudet, the Magpies listed two new faces amongst their squad, with teenagers David McGoldrick and Tyrone Berry both having signed, albeit on loan, in time for today’s clash.

Mike Edwards – who continues to go from strength to strength – was named at the heart of the defence, and as captain in Baudet’s absence, as Gudjon Thordarson exercised his ever-present model of versatility.

Jake Sheridan – plucked from the deep depths of the none league in pre-season – made his full debut for the Magpies,  having impressed in five substitute appearances prior to today.

Early on, things looked promising for County. Lewis McMahon’s somewhat hopeful effort suggested that the Magpies were not kicking their heels following their first defeat of the season, regardless of the fact that the former Sheffield Wednesday man’s effort blazed painfully over the cross-bar.

Gavin Gordon – who started his second game in a row – came agonisingly close to putting the Magpies out in front but, unbelievably, managed to miss the target, hanging his head in shame shortly after.

The first, admittedly, could be excused; but for Gordon to spurn a second first half chance was almost too much to bear for many of the Notts fans.

When a well-timed David Pipe cross found ‘GG’ unmarked in the box, it was beggars belief to see the Notts #9 not only miss the target, but also hardly make contact with the ball.

Gordon, however, proved quite the architect just moments later, as his miscontrol opened up the Notts defence for 6"3 man mountain, Drewe Broughton to muster up Rushden’s first opportunity of the afternoon, as his angled effort forced the so-far redundant Kevin Pilkington into a save mid-way through the first half.

Despite their few notable chances, however, Notts lacked creativity in the first half, and certainly lacked the conviction of a team placed favourably in the League Two table. However, shortly after the break their luck would change, as Rushden’s alliance with a somewhat more withdrawn, defensive approach effectively forced the Magpies into an attacking flourish.

The first half, however, paled into nothingness, with the half time break met with a very mild – and almost ironic – round of applause.

Half time: NOTTS COUNTY 0-0 Rushden & Diamonds

Thus far, with a trip to high-flying, Premiership scalping Grimsby awaiting in mid-week, Notts had scarcely looked a side worthy of claiming maximum points from seventeenth placed Rushden & Diamonds, let alone likely to defeat the league leaders on their home turf.

Sheridan: Outstanding
However, the Magpies returned for the second half, having made no changes whatsoever, with all guns blazing.

Mike Edwards produced Notts’ first noteworthy effort of the half, as he turned his man to produce a neat volley at the Rushden goal.

Edwards’ early attempt aside, it was the lively Jake Sheridan provided Notts’ most incisive moves, as his convincing ball-carrying led him on countless mazy runs up the left and, at times, right flanks, much to the acclaim of the Notts faithful.

For a nineteen-year old signed from the obscurity that is the local, non-league scene, Sheridan seems to have acclimatised to life in the professional game with some ease. Despite looking somewhat raw in his methods at times, the former Dunkirk youngster had provided the Notts faithful a window to a, no doubt, bright future.

On the subject of bright futures, Southampton’s David McGoldrick made his Meadow Lane homecoming early on in the second half, as he replaced the disappointing Gordon on fifty-three minutes.

Shortly after, and fellow loan signing Tyrone Berry of Crystal Palace joined McGoldrick in the action, as he took the place of Glynn Hurst in the Magpies’ front-line upon the hour mark.

The pair – who had only briefly trained together prior to their introduction – appeared to gel almost instantly, although their obvious inexperience – what with having less than a full match of senior football between them – did make for quite a spontaneous end to an otherwise predictable encounter.

McGoldrick’s re-introduction to the Magpies faithful almost provided instant rewards, as another of his extended runs allowed the Saints teenager to cut inside from the left and fire a weak effort goalwards, one which was easily saved by ‘keeper Jamie Young.

McGoldrick’s half-strength effort represented Notts’ most (cough) dangerous effort of the entire game, something which said much for the basic lack of assurance about the Magpies’ performance.

And whilst Rushden were all to happy to sit out for a draw, they too may feel they could have gone for the win, especially when former Notts striker Chris O’Grady was sandwiched between two County defenders, as he took a tumble in the box.

GG: Off colour
A late, speculative effort from one Brian O’Callaghan – whose performance, let it be said, was otherwise meagre today – helped take Notts’ goal attempts tally into double figures, but, as McGoldrick had found before, Rushden’s on-loan ‘keeper was equal to the Magpies’ challenge this afternoon.

However, for all the late endeavour of the two sides, the overwhelming disappointment was all too apparent throughout the contest, regardless of the late surge of action.

And, despite having avoided defeat against a relative bogey side, the Magpies will feel rightly disgruntled at what was, without doubt, one of their least impressive performances of the season so far.

Despite an impressive start to the season, work – without doubt – still needs to be done.

Full time: NOTTS COUNTY 0-0 Rushden & Diamonds

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