Super Notts see off Scunthorpe

Last updated : 23 January 2005 By Rob Davies
A goal in each half from strike pairing Glynn Hurst and Gavin Gordon was enough to seal a 2-0 win for The Magpies, but Ian Richardson's men may justifiably feel they could have scored even more against the side that lie second in the League Two table.

The performance was magnificent, right the way through the team. And Notts have now not conceded a goal since the 4-0 defeat at Swansea on December 18. Sterling stuff, indeed.

Many chances had already been spurned before Hurst slotted the home side ahead on 26 minutes, but Gordon's superb effort on 57 minutes sealed the tie, and brought the house down in the process.

Hurst: Gave Notts the lead
Richardson made two changes from the side that drew 0-0 at Southend, with one of them enforced. Rob Ullathorne returned from suspension so slotted in at left back, with David Pipe moving back into more familar territory on the right wing. This meant Tony Scully switching to the left flank and Chris Palmer dropping to the bench for the first time in his Notts County career.

Meanwhile, Mike Whitlow's knee injury meant a start for young Irishman Shane McFaul - so impressive last weekend - at right back, with Kelvin Wilson moving inside to centre back to partner stand-in captain Julien Baudet.

As has been the theme in recent home matches, Notts started the game at a frantic pace and immediately put their visitors - backed by an excellently sized away following - on the back foot.

Inside the first minute, the Magpies should have been infront. Good play by McFaul allowed Hurst to play in Scully, whose shot was well saved by experienced stopper Paul Musselwhite. From the rebound, Pipe headed Scully's cross over an open goal.

However, the game was then stopped for over five minutes as an innocous looking collision between Gordon and visiting midfielder Richard Kell left the Scunthorpe man with a serious looking injury. He eventually left on a stretcher and was replaced by the reportedly dangerous Cleveland Taylor.

Baraclough: Quiet
The visitors then came the closest they would all afternoon to scoring, when Taylor's deflected effort left on-form keeper Saul Deeney stranded. However, Deeney showed great agility in getting to the trickling shot just before it crossd the line and earned himself a kick in the head for his trouble.

After that though, it was one way traffic with the visitors looking extremely shaky at the back.

Wilson had an effort cleared off the line from an excellent Stefan Oakes corner, before Oakes himself forced Musselwhite into an excellent save from a powerful left-footed volley.

But Notts weren't to be denied for much longer though, and on 26 minutes it was Hurst who made the deserved breakthrough.

The goal showed up just how bad Scunthorpe were at the back - you can only assume that this was a one-off, given their league position - when a simple looking pass from Baudet allowed the Notts top scorer to breach the extremely square defence, round the keeper and slide the Magpies into a deserved lead.

Before the half was out, Gordon was to badly squander a chance to double the Magpies lead when clean through - he would later make amends - before the excellent Matt Gill saw his effort bringing Scunthorpe's second goal-line clearance of the afternoon.

One-up against one of the top sides in the league, and it should have been more.

Half time: Notts County 1-0 Scunthorpe Utd

Notts picked up in the second half where they'd left off in the first, with Hurst missing an absolute sitter to give the home side a 2-goal lead.

Super Gav!
The former Chesterfield striker again found himself clean through on goal, but this time took far too long to pull the trigger and, having eventually rounded Musselwhite, was eventually dis-possessed by a covering defender.

Eventually though, Notts got the two-goal lead their dominance deserved and it was, ahem, fans favourite Gordon who struck an absolute gem.

Some superb one-touch passing between Gordon, Pipe and Hurst had left the Notts no.9 one-on-one with visiting defender Cliff Byrne. The former Cardiff targetman skinned the covering defender, before cooly taking the ball past the onrushing 'keeper and slotting it into the empty net.

It was like someone had hijacked Gordon's body for those glorious 10-15 seconds of magic.

Notts weren't content to just be two goals up against the side that has led the table for the majority of the season, and Hurst's drive brought Scunthorpe's third goal-line clearence of the afternoon.

The visitors' substitute Michael Rankin then saw his effort cleared off the line by the outstanding Wilson, as the visitors looked for a way back into the tie.

With 20 minutes remaining, Richardson made his first change of the afternoon, bringing on Paul Bolland for Oakes, who had worked far harder then we had seen in previous weeks.

Pipe: Outstanding
The Magpies were quite happy to sit back and hold their lead for the remainder of the tie, and while Scunthorpe laid seige to the Notts goal, such was the collective excellence of the back four, Deeney never had to make a save of any note.

With 15 minutes remaining, Pipe was brought off and replaced with Palmer. Pipe had been outstanding throughout, and he typifies just what this current Notts side is all about.

Left back Rob Ullathorne, perhaps deservedly, won the sponsors man of the match, but Pipe and Baudet could also have laid claim to the award.

Matty Williams was brought on in the closing stages to replace Hurst, who gained an excellent ovation from the majority of the 6,429 crowd.

The final word in the game was left to former Pie Ian Baraclough, who lashed a right footed volley wide of Deeney's right-hand upright.

If you're wondering why I've not mentioned Baraclough at any point during this report it's because the experienced former Magpie - the centre of attention in the build-up to the fixture - was completely anonymous throughout. We've heard a lot about the 'new' Ian Baraclough, but the old one was certainly in evidence yesterday.

He was rubbish, so were Scunthorpe. But the Magpies - now looking to clock up a club record of successive clean-sheets - march on.

Full time: Notts County 2-0 Scunthorpe Utd

So, the best league display of the season from Notts, who are looking as solid as they have done in years. The five clean sheets in a row is testament to the management staff, especially as you consider that we have not had a consistent back four in this time.

The Richardson/Gaunt/Wilkinson regime is beginning to make its mark, and Notts finally look like they're capable of challenging further up the table.

Match ratings and reaction to follow.