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Rate of Notts

I think I’ve aged about twenty years.

We all knew before the game to expect a tough fixture, especially against the National League playoff winners last season.

But fucking hell – Pigeons 4 Magpies 2 managed to stretch that to extreme lengths.

Goals. Penalties. Defensive mistakes. Resurrections. Great saves. Great finishes. All today needed was a red card and an emergency fuel dump from the planes above and we would have had the full set.

A neutral would have loved today. But I’m not a neutral, so they can fuck off. Instead though, I’ll be getting my head around just what transpired…

For some reason, the first 20-25 minutes managed to drag somewhat. I don’t know whether it was because there were few chances, or whether the cold got to me.

County got on top, we had a defensive clearance that was swiped at and we got away with, and it was turning into a day which wasn’t going to be fun.

Until we got a penalty.

Usually, when you get a spot kick you’re supposed to be elated. This being AFCW though, the reaction to it was subdued.

Which is understandable. Our penalty takers are akin to the drummer in Spinal Tap, minus the dying side of things.

But for now, we have a new twelve-yard hero. Step forward Jake “Don’t call me Alan” Reeves, who smashed his effort into the top right corner.

It then started going right. Our second was a deserved one, and AAH clearly hasn’t felt any ill effects from flying back from Vietnam.

It’s days like today when you realise what a great finisher he is, certainly the best the club since Piggy, and maybe even Taylor.

All was going well. A bit too well…

Some things in life are certain. Death, taxes, and AFCW managing to fuck up a 2-0 lead. All natural phenomenon, that no man nor beast can seem to do anything about.

I’m not sure what was worse when they got a goal back – playing around at the back too much, or that it was so predictable to begin with.

You just sensed the nerves coming back again, and there’s definitely PTSD from the last couple of seasons still about.

When it got to 2-2, you just knew it would be a point at best. Plenty of told-you-so crowing from certain quarters, and more metaphoric kicking of a dog to boot.

Except it didn’t happen.

We were on the back foot until it was 2-2, then for some reason we decided to have a go again.

Why we couldn’t have done that when it was 2-0 I’ll never know, but right now I’m not complaining.

Even so, I still was expecting to come away with a loss, because we’d press for a winner and we get buggered on the break.

So it was some shock to see us given a second penalty of the afternoon. Up stepped Reeves again, to whack it right down the middle and metaphorically lift the roof off Plough Lane.

In hindsight, it seemed to knock the stuffing out of County, though I can’t say I was impressed when eight minutes of injury time was announced.

We need not have worried though, because the Iraqi Scouser popped up with one of those solo runs and finishes that are surprisingly difficult to do.

And all was well with the world again. Even if my watch strap broke in the celebrations.

So, what? I’ve got to give the team credit for not collapsing at 2-2, even if one could be snarky and suggest they shouldn’t have blown a two-goal cushion in the first place.

JJ’s post match interview can’t be quibbled with too much, especially as he too admitted he’s got a lot older since 3pm.

I do think we’re still a bit short up front, one has to wonder what today would have been like if we had Longstaff rather than Davison.

But right now, I think I’m too exhausted to care…

Plus points: We won. Great response at 2-2. Scoring two penalties. All round display. AAH. Not feeling like a smash and grab.

Minus points: Letting in two goals. Should have scored more.

The referee’s a…: His lino liked to give us offside a lot.

Mind you, he gave us two spot kicks, and I’m sure he managed to miss a blatant handball early in the second half from one of our defenders, so deserves a big kiss for that.

Them: Notts County reminded me of early-season Wrexham, namely you can see they have good talent but not quite as good as the hype suggests.

They could count themselves lucky that we only have one decent striker, because their back line paid homage to AFCW between 2021 and 2022.

A side with more than we have up top would have put more than four past them.

Decent turnout from them, and I think this is the first 1200 away attendance for a good while. One of them had a flag that was waved with abandon, although the plus point for anyone behind it is that they didn’t get to see our goals.

Point to ponder: Is Jake Reeves the on-field equivalent of Mandy InThe Office?

Being a former player who has returned and manages to be as good second third time round is a rarity in itself.

But to break the habit of a lifetime and become an AFCW player who can score spot kicks is something that must make him a protected species.

OK, it might be a bit hyperbolic, but just as MITO almost single handedly keeps the admin side of the club from collapsing, Reeves does become the player you can’t really afford to rest.

He deserved his MOTM reward today, and it wouldn’t surprise me if at the end of this season he wins Player of the Season.

Like AAH, we are weaker when he’s not playing, although we’ve managed to do OK thus far.

But as the likes of the Iraqi Scouser and Currie might be mentioned as possible departures this January, one wonders if somebody is keeping an eye on our new penalty taker…

Truth is stranger than fiction: 1) Getting two penalties and scoring them both. 2) It was cold. 3) Teams coming out to the 1970s Big Match theme tune. Wonder if we’ve got the 1974 ITV World Cup theme somewhere?

Anything else? It’s times like this when I hope we can keep this current squad together until the end of the season.

That feeling might fizzle out by the time we play Gillingham on Tuesday, but it would be nice if we could see what this group of players can actually do.

I say that because the club’s accounts came out a couple of days ago, and from those who read and understand it – we’re basically relying on having to sell players.

True, most clubs in our division (and L1) have to do exactly that, although it will stick in the throat big time if it’s because we’ve mismanaged things.

While the likes of AAH and Currie may be gone in January anyway, I just hope we’re not so desperate for cash that we’re effectively forced into it.

It will be quite an interesting reaction if instead of building on what we’ve seen today, we end up seeing it dismantled in just over a month’s time.

Especially if any replacements are from the reduced section of Poundland purchased on the drip.

As the reaction to Danny Macklin leaving (before his behaviour got outed) illustrated, one suspects people just want to stop us arsing about and start building the club up again.

We might lose AAH and Currie anyway, but it’ll be quite demoralising to take it apart come January because we can’t balance the books.

The question is – should we be so scared of debt that it stunts our ability to do anything?

Clubs everywhere operate with a lot of it, and it’s pretty much accepted practice elsewhere in football.

It’s a unique industry, because its selling point is what happens on the field. It’s what brings people into the ground to begin with, and everything has to fit around that.

Today proved that, we won 4-2 and right now you don’t give a shiny shit whether we’re losing money or not.

Whether we should be hard up is a discussion for another day, but it’s probably another reminder that we are a football club first and foremost…

So, was it worth it? Oh, absolutely.

In a nutshell: Your ticker might be back to normal by Friday.

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