So many positives for Notts boss from cup win

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As Notts prepared to face Watford in the second round of the Carling Cup on Tuesday, the prospects did not look particularly good.

It was an away game against a side that has made a decent enough start in the Championship, and County were without key players due to injury; goalkeeper Rob Burch (toe) and strikers Lee Hughes (groin) and Luke Rodgers (ankle).

In addition, Craig Westcarr, John Spicer and Neal Bishop had all suffered knocks in the side's 1-0 win against Dagenham on Saturday, and were not guaranteed to feature.

However, one of the things we all love about football is its unpredictable nature, especially when it comes to the cup competitions, and County pulled off one of the shocks of the round at Vicarage Road, as they beat the Hornets 2-1 to put themselves into the third round of the Carling Cup for the first time in four years.

County boss Craig Short admired the resilience of his players for holding firm throughout an onslaught in the first half as Watford created chance after chance. 

Some of his words of encouragement at the interval may have been just the boost his team needed to engineer their victory: ‘I said to the boys at half time that hopefully Watford couldn't play any better than that. I said to them we would get stronger as the game went on. We're on the ropes, let's bounce back off.”

County did just that, and it didn’t take long as, just after half time, Ben Davies struck a fantastic 30-yard free kick into the bottom corner of the net, following a foul on Kevin Smith. 

The team’s efforts were rewarded when Smith doubled the lead by scoring his first goal for the Magpies, heading home a great cross from Saturday’s goal-scoring hero, Craig Westcarr, who came off the bench.

It has to be said that Notts rode their luck at times in this match. Watford certainly spurned several good chances and then pulled a goal back late on to ensure a nervy few minutes for the Magpies.

However, it is sometimes said that you make your own luck, and County worked hard for what was a deserved victory overall.

The manager was understandably very proud of his team, and singled out several players for special mentions after their excellent performances: "Kevin Smith is a brave lad and I was so pleased for him to get his first goal. 

"Jake Jervis chased everything all night and Ravenhill and Bishop were back to their best in midfield. We got stronger defensively as the game went on, and John Thompson produced some great tackles. We had a goalkeeper on form too". 

He seemed especially pleased for Ben Davies, saying of his goal: "He does that a lot in training. He hasn't quite done it this year, I know he's capable of it so he's been due one. But his delivery from free-kick and corners is very, very good."

Short and the County fans hope the team can carry this form into the game against Bournemouth in League One on Saturday.

*Disclaimer: The views in this article are that of the writer and may not replicate those of the Professional Footballers' Association.

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