MAGPIES WING IT TO SAFETY
SHAUN Derry paid an emotional tribute to his players for completing one of the greatest escapes in Notts County’s history in a day of high drama at Oldham.
The Magpies scrapped to the point they needed to secure their League One status for another season as Alan Sheehan’s penalty cancelled out a second-half header from Adam Lockwood – who was later sent off.
There were incredible scenes at the final whistle as Derry punched the air in delight at sealing a remarkable turnaround.
The club were seven points adrift of safety in March, but Derry has inspired a stunning run of form to guide the club out of the bottom four.
But the former QPR midfielder praised his players for the way they have rallied in the face of extreme pressure.
“I want the players to go and really enjoy this feeling but I certainly don’t want to go through it again because it was horrible,” he said.
“I couldn’t be prouder of them and for what they have achieved because people had written us off but I always had belief in them.
“I had to tell them they were letting themselves down at half-time and I told them to regroup and show everybody what they are capable of.
“These last four or five months I’ve always viewed our situation as trying to get promoted into League One rather than going down.
“They gave me an unbelievable response and it took some guts too because we went behind.
“For six minutes we were staring relegation in the face but the team I had out there I knew we would not give up.
“We didn’t and the scenes at the end were very, very special.”
In the 68th minute Oldham struck a decisive blow. A free-kick into the box from Gary Harkins was met by Lockwood whose header sailed over Bartosz Bialkowski. With results going against them, Notts had a foot in League Two until they summoned an equaliser in the 75th minute.
Great work by Jamal Campbell-Ryce saw him skip down the right and his cross was handled by Lockwood.
Sheehan took responsibility for the kick and he lashed it into the roof of the net before he embarked on a crazy celebration with the fans.
The away end erupted, but there was more drama to come when Lockwood was given a red card for hauling James Spencer to the ground.
And once the final whistle went, fans streamed onto the pitch to celebrate a remarkable escape.
“A fantastic run of form really dug us right out of trouble along with a good spirit,” said Oldham boss Lee Johnson.
“It was a decent performance. We were reasonably fluent at times in our football and that was down to the fact we were not under the pressure to go and win.
“If there is one real lesson from our season it is who is going to score the second goal? We really have to take responsibility as a team, not just as individuals.”
STAR MAN JAMES WESOL
OWSKI Oldham MERRY DERRY: Shaun Derry, right, celebrates after Notts’ survival is confirmed. Below: Alan Sheehan scores from the spot