Notts County Vs Crawley – Match Report – 10/11/12

11th November 2012

County wasteful as Jonathan Forte’s tap in earns Crawley a point at Meadow Lane ensuring the Magpie’s poor home form continues.

Attendance: 5,685 Ref: Andy Hains

Notts County started brightly using Francois Zoko as a clear outlet as his one touch flick ons and brilliant attacking play was causing Crawley all sorts of problems in the left channel. County’s pressure paid off as in the 12th minute Neil Bishop slotted coolly past Jones from 10 yards to give Keith Curle’s side the lead. Plaudits however go primarily to Jamal Campbell-Ryce whose sumptuous ball control saw him dribble past three Crawley players before placing a perfectly weighted lobbed through ball over the Crawley defence to give Bishop his chance on goal.

Curle’s comment to BBC Radio Nottingham that his players created ‘enough chances to win two games’ was certainly illustrated by their fourteen shots on target compared to Crawley’s nine. County’s free flowing, attacking football was something to behold at times as Zoko and Campbell-Ryce wreaked havoc from wide areas in the first half. The chances in front of goal fell to Yoann Arquin who saw two headed chances soar narrowly over the crossbar. Curle will be most disappointed with Arquin’s second miss however as he found himself in 3 yards or free space and certainly should have put Notts 2-0 up.

Gary Liddle’s 25 yard strike going narrowly wide illustrated how County approached the last 10 minutes of the second half. Over 5,500 County fans were getting nervous with so many missed chances and were urging their team to put Crawley to bed and this spurred on both make-shift fall backs to play increasingly higher up the pitch. Crawley’s counter attacks made use of this vulnerability in County’s defence though and Bialkowski’s palms were well and truly stung after a blistering drive from midfield by Nicky Adams. And it was through Adams’ hard, low cross to the near post from the right hand side at 43 minutes which led to Crawley’s equaliser. Jonathan Forte was too much for Zoko, awkwardly defending in his own 6 yard box, and poked the ball in with ease. This was harsh on County, who had been sublime in the first half, but this showed how Curle’s team are yet to fully adapt to his 4-2-3-1 formation which requires his wingers to put in a significant defensive effort. This being said County’s formation was dictating the game as Crawley couldn’t handle Zoko or Campbell-Ryce in the channels and Judge and Boucard were first to every ball in midfield ultimately resulting in 59% of possession across the 90 minutes.

Boos rang out at half time but these were not directed towards any of the players, but the referee. Hains had had a torrid first half with poor offside decisions from his linesmen and not recognising clear fouls by tired and frustrated Crawley players. This would only continue in the second half which culminated in a decent penalty claim being turned down as goalkeeper Jones appeared to bundle over the lively Arquin. Hain’s awarded Crawley fifteen fouls compared to County’s two, a laughable statistic to any spectator of the game.
The officiating unfortunately was the highlight of the second half, which saw both sides struggle to create chances after the break.

Bishop’s fantastic last ditch tackle at 50 minutes suggested the second period would be a feisty, end to end affair but the Magpies’ lost their width, which had been so damaging in the first half, and began playing increasingly through the middle which, for 30 minutes, only created half-chances. Crawley began to grow into the game and Jeff Hughs and Dean Leadcock had to be on top form to defend searching balls from the Red Devil’s most impressive player Nicky Adams. County looked to be trying to nullify the threat of Billy Clarke with 4 goals in his last 4 games, but this only left Adams increasing amount of space in midfield to trouble Curle’s defence.

The Magpies enjoyed a decent period after the hour mark, with Man of the Match, Alan judge controlling midfield and instigating good pressure. A fresh Lee Hughs replaced Yoann Zoko who had picked up a yellow card and was becoming increasingly tired. The two Hughs on the pitch combined to create the best chance of the second half as Jeff played a beautiful, pin-point cross to Lee who should have scored but his header ended up a yard wide of Jones’ right post. The ball, played in short from a corner soon after, fell to Arquin, who again couldn’t score as his hard drive from inside the box was saved brilliantly by Jones from point blank range.

The game then continued to peter out as further substitutions had little impact, the referee continued to get decisions wrong and Crawley looked to solidify their away point with hold up play and a significant amount of time wasting. Although neither side looked like scoring in the second period, the chances created by County in the first half will make their point feel like defeat as they have now only won three of their nine home games in the league.

A point each shared between 4th and 5th placed teams may suggest the game was tame, but the football played at Meadow Lane, although contrasting in styles, showed both teams will continue to be promotion rivals this season and will create plenty of chances in the process.