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Notts County's promotion seems impossible

calendario 25.04.2021
by: NonProFootball
  • England
  • League
  • Vanarama National
Notts County's promotion seems impossible

Notts County were forced to settle for a point as they surrendered a two-goal lead at Torquay United.

The Magpies had deservedly taken the lead before the interval when Dion Kelly-Evans rifled in his first goal for the club which came after Jimmy Knowles had hit the bar with a header.

Mark Ellis then made it two after the interval with a fine finish, but Connor Lemonheigh-Evans hit back for the Gulls with a strike at the back post.

The Gulls were then reduced to 10 men when substitute Josh Umerah received a second yellow card, but despite the disadvantage, Ben Wynter struck in stoppage time to break Notts' hearts.

Here Leigh Curtis bring you all the major talking points from the weekend.

Same old failings

The biggest frustration watching Notts this season is that through open play they are defensively sound.

But once teams start loading the box and pumping balls into the box, that’s when you begin to fear the worst.

Set-pieces and long throws have been an Achilles heel for Notts throughout this season but in the first half against Torquay, they dealt with them remarkably well.

But Notts couldn’t maintain that level of authority and the goals which earned Torquay this 2-2 draw could have been easily avoided.

There needs to be an inquest as to how three players were unmarked at the back post for the first goal and the second wasn’t great either.

Burchnall said after the game he believes it is a problem with mindset rather than a result of coaching.

But the National League is a division where set-pieces and long balls into the box play such a huge part in the armoury of many teams.

With 11 games left to play, if Notts can’t correct this long-standing failing, it undoubtedly poses the biggest threat to their promotion challenge.

The best performance of Burchnall’s reign to date

There was much to admire about Notts’ performance for much of this game, particularly in the first half when they played with real composure against a side gunning for promotion to the Football League.

Mark Ellis, Connell Rawlinson and Alex Lacey all dovetailed superbly as the three centre-backs which ensured debutant goalkeeper Luke Steele did not have one save to make in the opening 45 minutes.

But it was the midfield axis of Jake Reeves, Jim O’Brien and Michael Doyle who were particularly impressive by the way they controlled the middle of the pitch.

More often than not, the right decisions were made by the trio who demonstrated just why they have had fine careers.

With Jimmy Knowles and Kyle Wootton full of unselfish running up front, you sensed it was only a matter of time before they deservedly took the lead which came through Dion Kelly-Evans’ clever finish.

When Ellis made it 2-0, you felt Notts were home and hosed until some familiar failings helped engineer a comeback for the Gulls.

But overall this was undoubtedly the best performance we have seen from a Burchnall side since he succeeded Neal Ardley at the back end of March.

The challenge now is for Notts to take this into Tuesday’s game against Eastleigh and consistently produce this level of performance from now until the end of the season.

Subs didn’t have the best impact

As good as Notts were for large spells, injuries severely hampered their quest to claim all three points.

Lacey, who had such a good first half, had to be replaced at the break before Jim O’Brien, who was a serious contender for man of the match, was forced off after 68 minutes.

Unfortunately, the substitutes who were brought on in their place struggled to make the kind of impact Burchnall would have hoped for.

The level of control that Notts exercised for so long began to wane as Calvin Miller, Regan Griffiths and Lewis Knight couldn’t quite match the tempo of the game.

As a result, Notts began to offer less of a threat in the final 15 minutes which handed Torquay more possession and hope they could still get a result.

Given how well Lacey and O’Brien had played, Notts would have undoubtedly taken all three points if they had been able to continue as their departures upset the balance of the side.

Media gripes

Not only were Notts Live denied access from covering the game at the weekend, but so too were esteemed BBC Nottingham duo Charlie Slater and Mark Stallard.

They are not the first club in the National League to restrict access because naturally a lot of press boxes in the division aren’t exactly spacious meaning social distancing can be difficult at times.

But when the Notts media have been declined press passes, clubs who have explained their reasons have at least offered free streams to compensate for not being there in person.

Boreham Wood, Woking and Yeovil are just many clubs that have done so while Hartlepool and Solihull Moors were extremely accommodating by giving journalists seats in the press box.

Unfortunately, Torquay’s policy isn’t to hand out free streams so the Notts media were forced to pay to bring you coverage either in print or on the airwaves.

But if that was not bad enough, the head coach Ian Burchnall was forced to conduct his post-match press conference in a street rather than inside the ground.

Presumably, it was all to do with safety and we can all appreciate that during the pandemic, that is absolutely paramount.

But this was a phone interview as no Notts-based journalist was present and it simply made no sense.

Torquay are going great guns at the top of the table and they have fine team managed by Gary Johnson who is doing a terrific job.

But they let themselves down massively over their treatment of the Notts media at the weekend. Still, at least they had an extra £9 for the coffers. Source:

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