Before Tuesday's Carling Cup game, my mate Dave and I were discussing which way we thought it would go. He detailed Wolves’ less than impressive recent record in the competition, and then hinted that he thought they would not improve on it against County, especially as "with our old nemesis in the [Notts] squad I think the chances are the headlines are going to write themselves."
The nemesis he was referring to, of course, was Lee Hughes, ex-player of Wolves’ fierce rivals, West Bromwich Albion. I offered the opinion that Hughes would no doubt get plenty of abuse that may put him off his stride, whereupon Dave replied: "Put him off....or spur him on....I know what my money’s on!”
When Hughes scored, I chuckled to myself at how prescient Dave’s words were. The Molineux faithful had taunted Hughes throughout the game and he had silenced them with a fantastic second half goal. No doubt many of these fans, like Dave, had expected Hughes to come back to haunt Wolves, in an example of one of the numerous ironies of football.
However, the cruel side of the beautiful game later revealed itself, as, just when the Magpies fans were no doubt beginning to think that Hughes’ strike was enough to deliver a huge shock, Wolves equalised with only seven minutes to go, following Liam Chilvers’ red card. They then went on to win 4-2 after extra-time.
It had been a valiant effort and Notts never stopped fighting against their Premier League opposition. Manager Craig Short was full of praise for his team and believes they are getting stronger.
He said: "We looked so good, so fit, organised and confident and strong.” He also acknowledged his side’s ‘never say die’ attitude, adding: "They never gave up, even when we went down to ten men and were 3-1 down.”
Indeed, Notts matched the Molineux outfit for much of the tie, and no doubt the players will take heart from this, once the disappointment of the cup exit fades a little. Losing was a blow, but the fans are proud of their team.
The most important thing now is for the Magpies to take the form of arguably their best performance of the season into the weekend’s League One fixture against Bristol Rovers and carry on the good work. As for Hughes in particular, no doubt soon, one stunning strike will be enough to win the game.
Disclaimer: The views in this article are that of the writer and may not replicate those of the Professional Footballers' Association.