05:30PM, Thursday 15 October 2020
Shaun Donnellan produced a Kevin De Bruyne-esque cross for Josh Coley’s goal at Wrexham
Alan Devonshire doesn’t think many sides will go to Wrexham and perform as well as his Magpies did in Monday’s 1-0 victory, and he’s hopeful the result will give the players the confidence they need to kick on and have a good season.
United looked short on fitness and self-belief in their defeats to Sutton United, King’s Lynn Town and Hartlepool United and Devonshire spoke afterwards of the side having a ‘soft centre’.
However, the players responded with the kind of performance that suggests they can do more than simply survive in the National League this season.
Josh Coley scored the only goal of the game at the Racecourse Ground, diving to head home Shaun Donnellan’s cross in the first half, and a resilient defensive display ensured that they never really looked like letting that lead slip.
The onus is now on the side to match the performance against another of the National League’s big boys, Notts County, on Saturday. If they can do that it will have been, as Devonshire says, ‘a really good week’.
“I’m really pleased with the boys,” he said. “I think we needed that performance to be fair after the first three games. To go to Wrexham and perform like that, I’m really pleased.
“Yeah, I think some of the players know they’ve let themselves down a little bit as well. But the performance was good, and I thought the win was fully deserved. We didn’t just sit back, we had a go and, until the last 10 minutes when they bunged everyone forward, I didn’t think they were much of a threat. Look at how many save’s Taye’s made, it’s not that many.
“It was a really good goal. We nicked the ball back in the right area and put a good quality ball in. We were maybe unlucky not to go in with two goals.
“Ryan Upward had a good chance from a corner where I felt he maybe should have scored, but you’ve got to get in there to get those situations.
“But, yeah, I’m delighted, there’s not many sides who are going to go to Wrexham and perform like we did.”
Devonshire believes the Magpies have recruited well over the summer, even if a few of those players are taking a while to find full fitness and gel with their teammates. However, he may well need all those options for Saturday’s trip to Notts County, with Nathan Blissett, Seth Twumasi and Shaun Donnellan doubts after picking up knocks. It was a blistering and bruising encounter in North Wales and evidence, if any were needed, that the Magpies were giving everything for the cause.
“We’ve got options now,” said Devonshire. “We’ve got Sparkes, Coley, Sam, and then we’ve got Josh Kelly who should be back this week. We’ve got Danilo and Bliss as well.
“We’ve got options up top and, with all the games coming around on Saturdays and Tuesdays, we’re going to need them, and I can mix it about without weakening the side. They’re all different. The wide boys and the strikers are all different. It’s good to have those options because we can see what defence we’re going to face and then try to put in the ones we think will cause them harm.
“But, listen, we’re not getting carried away. We’ve had three bad results and now we’ve had a great result. We also got some bad knocks last night and we’ll be looking at them in the coming days to see if they’ll be fit for Notts County.
“Blissett came off at half-time, he shook up his knee in a tackle so it’s touch and go with him. We don’t yet know how bad it is and won’t until we speak with him later (on Tuesday).
“Shaun Donnellan had stitches put into his shin. It was a bad cut and it’s very sore, so we don’t know with him and Seth had to have stitches in a head wound. They’re the boys we’re worried about at the minute.”
Devonshire hopes the Magpies can build on their win over Wrexham and produce a similar display away to Notts County at the weekend, but he acknowledges their hosts will be ‘hot favourites’ for the clash.
“This is what we’re in this league for,” he said. “Matches like this. To go to places like Wrexham and Notts County. These are massive clubs and the lads have got a platform to perform. They can’t ask for more than that. It’s what you’re in the game for, to be tested like this, and we’ll be tested again on Saturday.
“They’ll be hot favourites for the game, they’ll be expected to win, and we’ve got nothing to lose. But we’ll go there with a game plan and we’ll look at them in the coming days. Hopefully the team we pick can get us a result.
“But we’re not getting ahead of ourselves. Hopefully this win will give us the lift we need confidence wise.”
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