What a difference three days makes! Following Saturday’s dismal display against Huddersfield, County put their opening-day woes firmly behind them last night with a 1-0 Carling Cup victory away at ex-Championship side, Plymouth Argyle.
After a goalless first half, John Spicer scored on 52 minutes, with what turned out to be the winner for the Magpies, after latching on to a loose ball and edging it past Argyle goalkeeper, Romain Larrieu.
So, what made the difference? There are several factors that may have contributed to the volte face in County’s fortunes.
Firstly, it could be that a change is as good as a rest.
Manager Craig Short made several alterations to the team that was undone by Huddersfield.
Goalkeeper Rob Burch was injured, so Stuart Nelson took up the gloves, on-loan David Grof was recalled from Tamworth to go on the bench, and long-serving defender Mike Edwards, promising youngster Krystian Pearce and goal scorer John Spicer were all brought in, along with Craig Westcarr.
Ben Burgess headed up the attack, while Lee Hughes was rested. To make way, Graeme Lee, Stephen Hunt and John Thompson all dropped to the bench.
Secondly, it could be down to the fact that County stood up for themselves last night.
Short thought his side allowed themselves to get bullied a little by Huddersfield on Saturday, but not so last night. He felt that the Magpies revealed their true selves in the good football they played to bounce back from the heavy defeat they suffered, and he was justifiably proud of them.
Finally, it could have been down to character and belief.
Mike Edwards certainly thought so. He stated that the team had all been disappointed after Saturday’s loss, but grew in confidence after the first 20 minutes of last night’s encounter and were able to carve out a few openings.
This confidence seems to have filtered through to the fans, who seem to be feeling a lot more optimistic about County’s future in this new season. They are buoyed by the quick turnaround after Saturday’s performance, and hope that the team can carry this form through into the next game against Oldham.
It’s likely that a combination of all of the factors described, and maybe others besides, played some part in last night’s win.
However, given the amount of personnel changes for last night’s game, County fans think it will be very interesting to see how the Magpies line up against the Latics at the weekend.
*Disclaimer: The views in this article are that of the writer and may not replicate those of the Professional Footballers' Association.