‘Sir’ Lee Hughes day is born..

Sir Lee Hughes celebrates what turned out to be the winning goal

'Sir' Lee Hughes celebrates what turned out to be the winning goal

Notts County – 2
Nottingham Forest – 1

Probably the most interesting bit of the afternoon would’ve been the chance to see Sven unveiled to the crowd, unfortunately like many Forest fans I was stuck queuing outside as the Notts County turnstile operatives had a nervous breakdown at actually dealing with more than one person every half an hour.  The kick off was delayed after Forest fans continued to pour into the Jimmy Sirrell stand with no seats remaining – ending up in the Family stand to the left.

With the laughably cringeworthy ‘Two Pies on a shirt’ playing on the tannoy, it became apparent that despite the dawning of a new era at Meadow Lane, Notts fans are still rather more obsessed with us – and their victory today will I’m sure endure long in their memories, much like their last victory over us on their own turf – with the same scoreline – has over the years.  For us it’s perhaps a useful reminder that despite good signings, there’s still work for us to do!

Forest lined up thusly:

Gunter Morgan Wilson Lynch
McGugan McKenna Rajewski Tyson
Adebola Earnshaw

Certainly no B team line-up, this.  The Notts team included former-Reds John Thompson and Craig Westcarr, and loanee-from-Forest Brendan Moloney.

The game was pretty rubbish from both teams, with both sides having occasional good moments permeating mostly fairly lacklustre play – Billy Davies described games like this as an opportunity to drive fitness, but to be honest, only County really looked to be busting a gut to make any headway.  Majewski was impressive in midfield but often looks a few seconds ahead of his colleagues.

Lee Hughes had netted for Notts but was very offside (and knew it well before lobbing into the goal), and later some good play between Rajewski and Adebola set up Earnie with a cracking chance which Hoult did well to save from around 12 yards – would really expect Earnie to have made it more difficult though.  Shortly after Earnie successfully charged down Hoult, the ball broke for McGugan whose shot from the edge of the area was over.

Half time saw Wilson withdrawn for Chambers, due to injury, and immediately in the second half Notts were on the offensive.  ‘Mini-me’ Luke Rodgers did well to escape the attentions of Joel Lynch and beating Lee Camp with a low drive – only to hit the post – and the Reds were able to clear it.  It was a clear warning that Forest didn’t heed though.

Wes missed (not the first of the game, either) a header, Chambers fell over for no apparent reason, allowing Rodgers to stroll clear and stroke the ball expertly into the far corner with Lee Camp not exactly quick off his line to close the angle.  One nil and life was breathed into the half empty home sections.  It must have felt like Christmas come early for them only a few moments later..

Poor defending allowed Craig Westcarr (yes, him!) to get down the right and whip in an excellent cross, Lee Hughes beat Chris Gunter in the air inside the six yard box to head it past Lee Camp to give the home side a 2-0 lead.  Certainly it was the kind of cross I regularly heard Paul Smith lambasted for not claiming by some of our fans – that said, I don’t think the ‘keeper should have come for it – I do think Chambers or Morgan should have been marking the dangerous Hughes, though.

Forest chucked on McGoldrick, Blackstock, Anderson and Mitchell for the injured Chambers – and looked, as you’d expect, fairly disjointed from there on in.  Dexter had a chance but made it easy for the ‘keeper, McGugan eventually got Forest’s consolation with an accomplished drive from range – admittedly the ‘keeper should’ve kept it out, though!

Another chance fell to Blackstock who went for goal rather than putting the ball in to the back post where McGoldrick and Anderson would’ve had a tap-in.  The sense of urgency was never really there from Forest though, and with Notts resorting to time-wasting (in a friendly!) it never really looked like it was going to be our day.

So Sven’s era at Notts starts with possibly the result most County fans dream of most, and the controversiality of Lee Hughes has had a significant PR boost by snagging the winning goal, no doubt!  I thought Notts’ goals were very well taken, but as a result of poor defending – so I hoping that Billy has been reminded sharply that we do need a leader in the centre of our defence, as I don’t think we have one currently.

Well done to Notts though, they took their chances well when they came – certainly Rodgers and Hughes will bag plenty of goals for them in League Two.  I’ll tell you who played bloody well for them too, Brendan Moloney.  He kept Tys very quiet all game and was very accomplished at right back.  A good result for them, a poor performance from us, but it’s not quite as worrying as it might be.  It will certainly remind Billy – and the players – that they still have plenty of work to do this preseason.