The Non-League Football Paper
NOTTS COUNTY 0 EASTLEIGH 1 New setback Notts on the agenda
IAN BURCHNALL attempted a positive spin after Notts County huffed and puffed but failed to blow Eastleigh’s House down.
The new Magpies boss, who has endured a torrid start at Meadow Lane after taking over from Neal Ardley, claimed his side dominated and had ‘total control’.
But a club based on statistics now faces difficult facts – three successive National League defeats, five losses in seven games since the surprise change of direction and now outside the play-offs for the first time since January.
On a balmy sunny day, the realism of Eastleigh boss Ben Strevens carried greater weight when he claimed his side deserved to hold onto the precious lead provided by striker Ben House in first half stopped time.
“Notts had a lot of the ball, but we had the two best chances,” a delighted Strevens said.
The truth is Notts are staring at abject failure if they fail to contest the endof-season lottery whilst Strevens and his men would be thrilled at getting a late ticket.
Burchnall, though, shouldn’t be slated. He was placed in a very difficult position taking over a team that, whilst far from broken, was already firing on half cylinders.
But the tweaks he has made to accommodate his passing style appear are yet to click with a mixture of players short of confidence and others unproven at National League level.
The Notts boss pointed to his side’s early chances – wing back Adam Chicksen sliced over the bar from six yards and a venomous Ben Turner shot deflected to safety.
But the comfort with which Eastleigh then eased their way into the game would have perplexed the Meadow Lane faithful.
A half-time blank looked pretty much certain until Eastleigh midfield pair of Jack Payne and Danny
Hollands combined at a corner and House showed commendable confidence to cut inside and beat Sam Slocombe with a fierce low shot. The fact it went in at the near post however was a low blow for Notts.
Cav Miley couldn’t keep his shot down with the goal at his mercy and Slocombe made amends with a fine save one-on-one from Adam Marriott.
They were the clear second half openings whilst Notts were restricted to efforts from range by Regan Griffiths and the lively Jimmy Knowles that were well dealt with by Joe McDonnell.
“We’re competing with some massive clubs and we’re still fighting,” said Strevens.
That sums up where these two clubs – far apart in terms of status but closely matched on the pitch – are right now.
Burchnall insisted “switching off at a set piece” cost his side dear but it’s more important now his side take advantage of a rare midweek break to prepare for another tough test at promotion rivals Torquay United on Saturday.