A vastly improved display from that seen at Oxford saw Notts lose out by a first-half injury-time goal at Brisbane Road, matching promotion hopefuls ‘Orient in every department in what proved to be a very entertaining encounter indeed.
At the other end, Kevin Pilkington was twice called upon to make a couple of smart saves, one from a close range header and the second, a brilliant point-blank stop as he spread himself to smother a close range effort.
It was, in my opinion, rough justice when Jabo Ibehre scored the only goal of the game during first-half injury time. It must be said though, that Notts did not defend the cross competently, and Ibehre had time and space to place his header beyond the dejected Pilkington.
The second period followed a similar pattern, with surprise-starter Dan Martin guilty of missing Notts’ best chance of the game from little over five-yards out, as he somehow managed to find Glyn Garner’s out-stretched leg in the ‘Orient goal. The former Bury ‘keeper was to be tested once more, however, pulling off a good save from the impressive Needham.
The show – for Notts, at least – was stolen by Pilkington between the Magpies’ sticks, as he made two more good stops to deny both John Mackie and Gary Alexander from doubling Orient’s lead, and thus keeping Notts within touching distance.
Despite the former Mansfield shot-stoppers heroics, however, Orient were happy to see out the latter stages of the contest at the corner flag, as Martin Ling's team rolled on to claim all three-points in an entertaining New Year's Eve clash.
Match Ratings (Average – 6)Kevin Pilkington – 8 – Star man. No chance with the goal. Kept the score at just one with a number of good saves.
Brian O'Callaghan – 7 – Much-improved display from the much-mallinged defender. A calming influence, though he did make one bad headed clearance in second half.
Dan Martin – 7 – A good performance, closed down well, should have scored though.
Chris Palmer – 6 – First full outing for some time. Playing in out-of-position as a right wing-back, he had a steady game.
David Pipe – 8 –Worked tirelessly, an inspiration to all following supporters.
Mike Edwards – 6 – Seldom troubled. Marshalled the middle of defence well.
Liam Needham – 7 – A good performance, unlucky not to open the scoring with his vicious in-swinging corner. Arguably Notts' most dangerous player
Rob Ullathorne - 6 - Strong in the tackle, but distribution often left a lot to be desired.
Andy White – 6 – Put a lot of effort in, but was constantly fouled when in possession.
Mark DeBolla – 6 – An average game. Substituted to make-way for Sheridan early in the second half.
Jake Sheridan – 7 – Added something extra when he came on, his trickery causing Orient problems.
Lewis McMahon – 6 – Played through a number of probing balls into the Orient box.
Not Used: Marshall, Friars, Long.
For further installments of Rob Bristol’s excellent reports, be sure to check back to NCM throughout the coming year.