1st May
The City Ground


Mr A Butler

Goal 1
McNamara 73 mins

Notts County
Roche     Ward
Cooper     Holmes
Foy   Warren
Williams     Dyer
Edwards   Liburd
Doig Cross
Louis-Jean   Bolland
Merino     Owers
Freeman   Tierney
Woan   Rapley
Jenas Stallard
Substitutes     Substitutes
Dawson Dunn
McNamara Heffernan
Turner   Housley

© Nottingham Forest 2000

Report by Dave Brown
Teenager Niall McNamara finished off a great break in the 73rd minute to see the home side through. But Forest were fortunate not to be taken to penalties, with County producing much of the dangerous play. Keeper Barry Roche, who could be Dave Beasant's under-study next season, made two outstanding saves to keep his side in the game. The conditions were perfect for flowing football and it was Forest who settled down the quickest under the captaincy of veteran Ian Woan.

But it was the departing Carlos Merino who looked the liveliest in the opening forays with Darren Ward saving well off a long-range effort after just six minutes. County striker Mark Stallard had a claim for a penalty turned away just minutes later after he was crowded out by Christian Edwards and Chris Doig. Striker David Freeman had Forest's best chance of the half after quarter of an hour following a Woan corner. Merino's goal-bound header was cleared off the line by Gary Owers and the simple re-bound by the 20-year-old was hit over the bar. Notts County should have gone into the half time break 1-0 up when Mark Stallard hit his lob over the cross bar. Keeper Roche had left his line and was never going to reach the ball and, despite the efforts of Edwards, the striker should have done better. This did not deter the Magpies from producing more stirring football in the second period and again it was poor finishing that let them down.

The visitors' failed to capitalise on a number of goal-mouth scrambles and the acrobatics of Roche kept them at bay. On 58 minutes Rapley was denied by the lanky Irishman and just a minute later he turned a fantastic long-range effort by Richard Liburd over the bar. The killer blow from Forest came just 15 minutes later when Forest broke through Woan and Gareth Williams. The midfielder played a through ball to Merino who in turn laid the ball off to McNamara. The Irishman controlled the ball and fired a low shot past Ward inside his near post. Maybe on another day the Welsh international would have saved it and with County's lack of firepower it was clear that the single score would be enough. If you wanted to be negative, it would be possible to refer to the previous five Notts County match reports and say simply, same problems, same result.

The Magpies, in the second half in particular, dominated for long periods. But, maintaining their consistency at least, they failed to make the most of numerous chances. Though, if you wanted to be positive, Gary Brazil's Magpies came out of the game with a great deal of credit. Not only did they field every fit professional they had on their books, but they approached the game with a determined attitude. They did not look like a side which had lost five matches in a row. And they certainly did not deserve to be a side who would, this morning, be pondering over their sixth consecutive defeat. Despite the searing spring heat, the usual suspects the likes of Gary Owers, Mark Warren, Alex Dyer, Richard Liburd, Paul Bolland and Richard Holmes ran themselves ragged. The cynical among the meagre crowd may believe Notts' extra efforts may merely have been inspired by the thought of avoiding having to turn out for the semi-final of the 1999/2000 competition to be played over the summer.

But in truth, judging by the players reaction following the 2-1 defeat at Chesterfield on Saturday, their motive was probably more to do with ending their frustrating losing streak.
Chairman Derek Pavis may well be concerned at how this current losing streak will be affecting season ticket sales over the summer. But the truth is that, despite the result, Notts showed themselves to be capable of what was basically, good entertaining football. They may be left to ponder their sixth consecutive defeat over breakfast this morning. But if they can approach every game with the same vigour and the same positive approach next season, there may yet be a light at the end of what is currently a very dark tunnel.



Copyright © 2001 Nottingham Forest F.C.