Notts County 0 Wolverhampton Wanderers 1 match report: County spirit gives latest manager hope

Wolves victory takes them top but Shaun Derry sees reasons for optimism with bottom team

Jon Culley
Sunday 17 November 2013 01:00
Clean strike: Ethan Ebanks-Landell volleys the winning goal for Wolves
Clean strike: Ethan Ebanks-Landell volleys the winning goal for Wolves

How different things might have been for Notts County had Steve Cotterill not believed he could work a miracle and somehow lead stricken Portsmouth back into the Premier League.

It was the summer of 2010 and County had emerged from the wreckage of a charlatan takeover and the coming and going of Sven-Goran Eriksson to win promotion as champions of League Two under Cotterill, winning 14 of his 18 games in charge and losing only one.

Yet Cotterill headed south and since then the Notts County chairman, Ray Trew, has hired and fired five subsequent managers, the failure of each in turn to take the club forward exhausting his patience on average once every eight months.

With his team bottom of League One, he has picked another one now in Shaun Derry, the hard- tackling former Leeds, Crystal Palace and Queen's Park Rangers midfielder. Derry began his career at Meadow Lane and comes with the willing endorsement of Neil Warnock, who took County from the Third Division to the First in the early 1990s and signed Derry three times as a player.

It has not been a great opening week in his first managerial role, losing at Hartlepool in the FA Cup and taking a trouncing at Oldham in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy. In the dug-out for his first home game, though, he had the crowd on his side, rallying to one of their own, and the passion that at one stage sparked a verbal confrontation with his opposite number transferred itself to his players, even if the result was another defeat – their 12th in the League so far this season.

"I'm proud of the players because I said to them when I came in that we would win games and lose games, but if we lost I wanted us to lose in the right way and that was the right way," Derry said. "I know we have the players to get out of this. Some people questioned their character after the Oldham game but we've played the team at the top of the table today and more than shaded it."

The chances, though, fell to Wolves, who might have been in front sooner than the 76th minute but for the performance of Bartosz Bialkowski in the home goal, denying Jake Cassidy, James Henry and Bakary Sako with fine saves in the first half.

The Pole also got down to smother efforts from substitute Leigh Griffiths and again from Cassidy before, from a free-kick into the box, right back Ethan Ebanks-Landell swept the ball through a crowd of players to mark his full debut with what proved to be the winning goal.

It takes Wolves, unbeaten in their last 11 matches and with only one defeat so far under Kenny Jackett, above Leyton Orient to first place, with the odds shortening against them reversing the downwards spiral that has seen them suffer consecutive relegations.

Wolves have never made a better start to a season in any division, yet Jackett was not inclined to crow. "Our points total gives us a good platform and we can build on that but we must recognise that being at the top of the table puts us there to be shot at and teams will raise their level against us, as Notts County did today," he said.

A long hard road lies ahead for Derry if he is not to be the sixth manager to tempt his chairman to pull the trigger, although it was clear as he and Jackett wagged fingers over a yellow card the Wolves manager thought should have been red. At least Derry's hair cannot turn grey.

Notts County (4-4-2): Bialkowski; Freeman, Smith, Liddle, Sheehan; McGregor (Bell, 90), Fotheringham, Labadie, Campbell-Ryce (Haworth, 82); Murray (Arquin, 81), Haber.

Wolves (4-2-3-1): Ikeme; Ebanks-Landell, Batth, Stearman, Golbourne; Davis (Griffiths, h-t), McDonald; Henry (Elokobi, 82), Edwards, Sako; Cassidy (Sigurdarson, 84).

Referee David Webb.

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