Notts County put in a dominant display to record a first home win since November on Tuesday evening. Enoch Showunmi grabbed his first league goal to give Keith Curle’s men a deserved 1-0 win against Oldham Athletic.
Following the massive effort required to get the weekend’s game on, more of the same was required for this midweek encounter at Meadow Lane. Club staff in all departments, youth team players and coaches, as well as volunteers pulled together to clear the snow off the pitch to make the game playable.
It all proved to be worthwhile, as the Magpies put in an impressive first half performance that was eventually rewarded with a goal. Following promising efforts from the likes of Alan Judge
, Jeff Hughes and Yoann Arquin, Enoch Showunmi put Notts ahead with a finish inside the six-yard box.
County also enjoyed the better of the second half and had further opportunities to kill off the game through Judge and Showunmi. However, it ultimately came down to the team’s defensive determination.
Oldham showed a greater offensive threat after the break and Notts had a couple of scares, none more so than Chris Sutherland’s header, which saw Gary Liddle pull off a remarkable last-ditch clearance. Still, the Magpies held on to take maximum points and moved back into the top half of the npower League 1 table.
Notts made only one change to the side that faced Sheffield United, with Francois Zoko missing out through suspension after being sent off in the weekend’s fixture. Enoch Showunmi, back from an ankle injury, replaced him in attack, as the Magpies lined up in a 3-4-1-2 formation.
The former Tranmere Rovers man was heavily involved in the opening stages, as the Magpies created the better of the goal-scoring opportunities. Alan Sheehan’s free-kick from deep saw him hold up play with his back to goal, though he was unable to get a shot away inside a crowded goalmouth.
The frontman’s presence was felt again, when he won an aerial battle to help on Bartosz Bialkowski’s long kick, but away stopper Dean Bouzanis easily gathered Jeff Hughes’ shot. Moments later, Bouzanis would have been able to do nothing to keep out Judge’s free-kick, which flew agonisingly wide of the top-left corner.
On 13, Judge was presented with a fine chance, as Boucaud picked out his run into the box with a perfectly weighted through-pass. The Irishman took the ball wide of the goalkeeper with his first touch but his finish was directed into the side-netting.
County maintained the pressure and Yoann Arquin was next to threaten, when he headed wide from Jamal Campbell-Ryce’s right-wing centre. Shortly after, the duo combined again down the right, only Arquin watched a powerful drive swerve narrowly wide of the right-hand post on this occasion.
The visitors’ first attempt of the evening arrived in the 21st minute, with forward Jose Baxter forcing Bialkowski into a routine save from distance. As Oldham continued to press, striker Matt Smith turned on the edge of the box to fire a venomous volley towards goal but was denied by Neal Bishop’s heroic block.
Notts regained the upper hand and deservedly moved in front in the 35th minute, following Boucaud’s delightful, defence-splitting pass into the right channel. The recipient, Campbell-Ryce, surged inside and his low shot deflected into the path of Showunmi, who prodded home at close range.
The Magpies oozed confidence following the goal and pieced together some attractive passing moves, including plenty of trickery from the likes of Boucaud and Campbell-Ryce that gained the appreciation of the home faithful. And, it could easily have been 2-0 at the break, as Hughes evaded everyone with a teasing cross, before driving wide of the target.
Early into the second period, Jonathan Grounds should have levelled from a dangerous Baxter free-kick on the right flank. The defender’s header contained plenty of power but lacked accuracy.
A bigger scare came from one of Grounds’ crosses that forced an aerial battle between Bialkowski and midfielder Chris Sutherland, with the latter coming out on top. Sutherland’s header was certain to bounce into an empty net but, out of nowhere, Gary Liddle came to the rescue with a magnificent, hooked goal-line clearance.
Notts’ attacks in the wide areas caused plenty of problems for the Latics, highlighted when Showunmi came within a whisker of connecting with a near-post Campbell-Ryce cross. As a result of a Sheehan centre, Smith then had to produce a saving header to prevent Hughes’ header across goal from reaching Bishop at the back post.
Smith was a handful in attack, as well as a useful took at the back, and looked the most likely visiting player to score. He headed marginally wide from substitute Lee Croft’s near-post corner and over, after he managed to latch on to Reece Warbara’s well aimed cross.
On 78, Judge almost wrapped up the points for the Magpies, when he wrestled possession from away skipper James Wesolowski inside the box. The Frenchman quickly fed the ball towards Judge, whose first time attempt skewed inches wide of the right-hand upright.
A minute later, Judge turned provider with a weighted cross that met Showunmi’s late run. The forward generated plenty of force with his header but cleared the bar.
Another Latics’ substitute, Robbie Simpson, tried his best to salvage a point with two long range hits, both of which failed to test Bialkowski. Baxter did muster an effort on target for Oldham, a grounded drive which the County number one smothered on his goal-line.
Curle freshened up the attack in the dying stages, as his side looked to hold on for the points, with Hamza Bencherif and youth team forward Romello Nangle replacing Showunmi and Arquin. Their energy in the final third forced mistakes by the away rearguard and helped Notts to see out five minutes of added time for the win.