Melvyn Watson from the NCFCOSA media team tells us his tale of what happened at Pompey!
The fantastic 364 travelling Magpie supporters sang and cheered on their heroes from the first minute until the last minute and were a credit to Notts County Football Club!
In all honesty, nearly every Notts fan I spoke to before the game said they’d happily take a point before kick off and the majority thought we would be heading back from the south coast empty handed, but the battling, fighting display from John Sheridan’s team showed otherwise! But make no mistake, the team knew the challenge that lay ahead, and it would take a herculean display of guts and skill but most of all, hard work topped off with complete team spirit.
From the first whistle, Pompey set about trying to steam roller Notts into submission but John Sheridan had built self belief into his team and they put their bodies on the line to repay their bosses faith in them, the changes that were made seemed to galvanise the team as they snapped into tackles and cleared every thing that Portsmouth threw at them. Even though lady luck did seem to shine on Notts at times as poor finishing and good defending kept our goal intact, then against the run of play Notts could have taken the lead as Rob Milsoms’ shot just skimmed over the bar, there were more scares for Notts until on the twenty-first minute a through ball from Duffy found the energetic Campbell who had a little bit of fortune as the ball bobbled back to him and without even thinking twice, he curled a wonderful shot into the top corner to give the Magpies the lead! Notts held the advantage for only 6 minutes before Pompey were level, Baker turned two Notts defenders before laying the ball back for Conor Chaplin to tap the ball into the open net.
Portsmouth were calling all the shots at this point and with better finishing, being just level could have been out of sight; but, for some great goal keeping and good defending sent us into the interval level at 1-1!
Portsmouth started brightly putting Notts under severe pressure but the excellent Jonathan Forte gave us an outlet with his hard running and willingness to take the Pompey defence on, it was one of those mazy runs that set the game alight on 71 minutes as he took on two Portsmouth defenders and instead of shooting from a tight angle, he squared the ball back for the excellent Adam Campbell to place a superb shot into the corner of the net to give Notts the lead once again, the travelling fans were ecstatic and drowned the 16,000 plus Pompey fans who were stunned into silence.
Everything was going so well for Notts until the 77 minute when Aaron Collins lunged in to close down Forde the Portsmouth keeper who went down like he had been hit by a juggernaut, the linesman flagged immediately and the referee immediately showed Collins a red card, after a very brief rest, Forde was back on his feet taking the free kick himself looking none the worse, this was a massive set back to the tiring Notts team who had given their all and there was still 13 minutes plus added time to play. This spurred Pompey on to go for the jugular and after wave after wave of attacks it was only brilliant goal keeping again that kept Notts in front, Notts were dying on their feet after the massive effort they had put in, this was proved when first Campbell then Laing broke clear of the Pompey defence but could not finish the runs with anything positive as their legs had totally gone, this made John Sheridan use his first sub with Rodman coming on for the excellent Forte, then the master stroke as the General, Alan Smith coming on for the exhausted but brilliant Adam Campbell, Smith showed his experience and class as he held the ball up in the centre circle with 3 Portsmouth defenders snapping at his heels until he gained a free kick to ease the pressure.
The 6 minutes of added time seemed like 60 as Pompey threw everything at Notts, Adam Collin saved his best save until last when he acrobaticly tipped a fine header over the bar when everyone though it was destined for the back of the net.
As the final whistle was blown the shattered Notts players either flopped to the ground or hugged one another, showing what this battling display meant to the team and the fans.
As the delighted fans were leaving the stadium for the long journey home the fans were asking could this be the turning point in our season, well on this showing, I for one think any thing is possible when our team show this spirit and resolve.
Melvyn Watson – @magpiemel47 (Twitter)