BOSS KEV STAYS ON HIS GUARD
But soaring Magpies are starting to have their fans daring to dream
NOTTS County manager Kevin Nolan will sit down this week with club owner Alan Hardy and sign a new contract.
However, during their discussion, the topic of promotion is unlikely to feature.
The victory over Crawley, clinched by Jorge Grant’s 52ndminute winner, maintained the Magpies’ second-placed position in the League Two table.
But, having had to lead a fight against relegation at the start of the year when he moved to Meadow Lane from Leyton Orient, Nolan is looking down the table, not up it.
When asked about County’s promotion potential, he said: “I will only talk about it when we are safe in the league.
“If we can get to 50 points as soon as possible, then I can assess where we want to be.
“Yes, we have got off to a fast start but the first thing we have to do is maintain our proficiency and attitude.”
The 300 County fans on the visiting terrace at Broadfield could not resist the temptation to sing ‘we are going up.’
But while Nolan appreciates their enthusiasm, he will not be joining in with them.
“It’s lovely and they probably haven’t been singing that for a long time,” he said.
“It’s brilliant in that respect but we have got to be careful that we don’t get too carried away with it.”
Two statistics, however, would suggest that County could well be in contention to climb into League One next May.
They have now gone seven games without defeat and have not a conceded a goal in their last four matches.
That is due to the outstanding partnership which Shaun Brisley and Richard Duffy have formed at the heart of Nolan’s defence.
Brisley did limp off the pitch just after half-time but his
replacement Elliott Hewitt also refused to give Crawley’s strikers an inch of space.
Nolan accepts that Brisley could now miss several matches but feels his squad has the strength-in-depth to cope with his absence.
“Elliot stepped in and did a fantastic job, and I am absolutely delighted that we have got plenty of cover, even if Shaun is missing for two weeks,” said the Magpies chief.
“And to have got another win and the scoreline showing another clean sheet is the result of the hard work of these boys, and their determination.”
The worrying statistic for Crawley boss Harry Kewell is that they have lost three out of their four home fixtures since the season started.
But they were certainly not outplayed in the first half especially, when Lewis Young and Enzio Boldewijn combined to launch attacks down the right wing.
They might well have taken the lead in the first half but cutting in from an angle, Boldewijn sent one of his shots over the bar and another one wide of the far post.
There was also a good chance for Crawley captain Jimmy Smith to break the deadlock when he rose to meet a cross from Young but headed over the top.
County had their chances too, starting from as early as the second minute when the hard-working Jon Stead saw his angled shot well saved by Glenn Morris.
And in first-half injury-time, Lewis Alessandra went close twice too. His powerful first shot was blocked by Morris’ body and seiz- ing on the rebound, he shot hurriedly wide.
Stead was well-marshalled by Crawley defender Josh Yorwerth but it was his rare mistake which set up County’s winner.
The Welshman’s decision to step over the ball let in Jonathan Forte on Crawley’s right flank and his low cross found Grant unmarked.
Morris did manage to get his body in the way of Grant’s shot but he was angled backwards and the ball crossed the line before it hit him.
In response, Kewell used all three of his substitutes but in the final 35 minutes of the game, his players did not manage one strike that tested Adam Collin.
And the Australian made no effort to mask his frustration, saying: “We are capable of passing teams completely off the park and can play football in the right manner.
“But sometimes it doesn’t work like that and you have to be tougher.
“County got one good chance to score a goal and after that, they just locked up the shop.”
ALL SMILES: Notts County's Jorge Grant, second from left, is mobbed for opening the scoring
BATTLE: Crawley’s Jimmy Smith, right, challenges Matt Tootle DANGER: Jonathan Forte crosses for Jorge Grant to score CHIEF: County boss Kevin Nolan