Three-Goal Notts tame the Shrews!

William Shakespeare, writer of such legendary plays as ‘Romeo and Juliet’, ‘Macbeth’ and ‘Taming of the Shrews’, has left an incredible, awe-inspring legacy on English history.

His time at the forefront of the English Language is yet to burn out, centuries after his death. He is the ultimate English legend. His play's continue to flourish in today’s market, and his legend will remain forever.

Hurst: On the mark again
There is a not-to-dis-similar story in the tale of Notts County Football Club. At least until the latter part of the above description. They were the founder members of the English football leagues; officially known as the ‘the world's oldest league club'.

They have earned the prestige of supplying the great Juventus with their first ever shirts, and have also lifted the greatest domestic cup of them all, the FA Cup- albeit over a century ago. They have matched the great Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal in the not too distant past, and have had many legends of the game ply their trade at Meadow Lane.

However, whereas Shakespeare's legacy continues in the modern world, Notts’ has seemingly petered out. The effects of Administration, and the continuing fall from grace under the stewardship of Gary Mills, has left County's fans wondering if they will ever return to anywhere near their best days.

The past week, following the humbling at Rushden & Diamonds, has been yet another hectic one at the Lane. Mills has departed, with the board looking for a fresh approach and making club stalwart Ian Richardson caretaker player/manager. Could this be the start of a flourishing new era?

Today's game at home to fellow-strugglers Shrewsbury Town provided the perfect chance to assess just where Notts have the potential to finish this season. A good win could show that we are above the station of a relegation battle. A narrow win or draw and Notts will be embroiled in just that, and defeat...well that was just unthinkable.

Goal machine!
But Richardson got it right. Playing with a flexible 3-5-2 formation, utilising Chris Palmer and David Pipe as wing-backs, the Magpies looked both far more solid defensively, and extremely more threatening going forward. Pipe, in for Matthew Gill, was one of three changes to the line-up that ultimately cost Mills his job last Saturday.

Also returning was the now fit Julien Baudet, in for the injured Robert Ullathorne, and youngster Shane McFaul in for Tony Scully, who dropped to the bench alongside Gill.

The game began in a scrappy manner, with neither side stamping any sort of authority, and both looking nervous as play continued to switch from one team to the other, without so much as an attempt at goal.

The game, however, managed to spring into life midway through the first period, as visiting winger Sam Aiston was challenged by Pipe, bringing about a retaliation that sparked a mini brawl in front of an angry Z Block.

This seemed to be the ignition that sparked the match, with Notts coming out of the tussle the stronger. It was evident that Richardson had installed his very own passion and will-to-win into his players, as they began dominating their own departments.

Mike Whitlow, transfer-listed by Mills, joined Julien Baudet in an immense back-line, and Stefan Oakes in particular, excelled in his central role. If ever their was a role made for Oakes, this was it. With McFaul and Paul Bolland willing workers beside him, Oakes was able to pull all the strings, striking several top-notch passes all over the field.

Oakes: Instrumental
It came as no surprise when it was he instigated the Notts opener. Pipe forced Notts’ first corner of the day, after his cross was met by Gavin Gordon, forcing the visiting stopper into a tremendous save. From the resulting corner, though, Oakes' delivery was scrambled over the line by a flabergasted Paul Bolland, who notched up his well-deserved first goal of the season.

The timing of the goal was particularly precious, as soon after, the half-time whistle sounded, and the home side left the field to a standing ovation.

The second half proved to be full of even more passion, with the visitors also battling hard and forcing pressure onto the Notts backline. But they never forced goalkeeper Saul Deeney into a save, with Notts’ backline dominant.

With The Magpies weathering the storm, Oakes- ably assisted by McFaul- was able to continue in his playmaking duties, again supplying the creativity for both Notts’ second and third goals.

He curled a wicked shot towards goal that goalkeeper Howie could only parry to the feet of Glynn Hurst. Hurst blasted home, and Notts were able to settle down again, and eventually cruise to the much-needed three points.

The best, though, was still to come, with Chris Palmer again getting himself on the home scoresheet, with a rampaging burst into the box following a delightful move involving Gordon and Oakes.

With just over five minutes remaining, Palmer collected the pass, steamed past the full-back and let rip with a wonderful left-footed strike from the corner of the box that gave Howie no chance. Goal of the season.

This all came after visiting full-back Darren Moss received his marching orders for a professional foul on Gordon, when the big man was clean through on goal with the scoreline at 2-0.

Notts now find themselves only three points behind playoff-chasing, arch-rivals, Mansfield Town, who have stuttered since their hammering of the Magpies only three weeks ago.

This and the much-improved display, watched in front of Notts’ second highest home attendance of the campaign, amounts to greater expectation for Richo's men, as they prepare to welcome Conference outfit Woking for next Saturdays F.A Cup round one clash.

Richardson has showed the Notts faithful what he can bring as a manager, as Notts look to follow in the footsteps of the great Shakespeare and continue their famous histories in the modern era.