In the latest of his regular columns, Hillary Street-Ender takes a look at this weekend's Sky Bet League One trip to Notts County, including a look back at last season's 5-1 demolition of the Magpies.
In the latest of his regular columns, Hillary Street-Ender takes a look at this weekend's Sky Bet League One trip to Notts County, including a look back at last season's 5-1 demolition of the Magpies.

Saturday’s trip to Meadow lane to face Notts County will inevitably bring back memories of last season’s trip and that fantastic five-one demolition of the home side, in a match where we should have doubled our tally and would have done if not for some wasteful finishing and the inspired second half showing from the ‘Pies keeper. It was, of course, one of those occasional freaky games where everything we tried came off as the home back four went absent without leave for the duration. That game will live long in the memory of any Saddler in attendance mainly due to the devastating performance from Febian Brandy. So dominant was he that he completed a hat-trick before half-time and a perfect one it was with his initial strike coming as he rolled the ball, left-footed, into the empty net having rounded the keeper, his second coming when he thrashed a right footer over the keeper and under the bar and the third being headed just inside the post with the half-time whistle about to sound. Any defence that allows Feb, of all people, to score with a header really does deserve a heavy defeat. The game was over, effectively, when the players left the field for their tea and orange segments with any remaining uncrossed Ts taken care of in the early minutes of the second period as goals from Butler and Westcarr duly arrived. So impressive was Brandy’s performance that afternoon that many of the County fans in the main stand applauded as he left the field to be substituted, partly in appreciation of the fact that a performance of such dominance is a rare thing and partly in relief that their torture might be over. In summation; they had a wheelbarrow, and the wheel had fallen off. The fact that this was the little fella’s last real hurrah in our colours shouldn’t detract from memories of a glorious afternoon even though, just for a moment, all things seemed possible for us but, as usual, didn’t pan out well. Thanks for the memories, though, Feb……. We can’t really expect a repeat of that score-line but a similar result would be very welcome, especially when considering Notts’ recent good form. We’ve come away with all three points on our last two visits so the players can go into the game knowing that Meadow Lane need hold no fears.

Last Saturday’s victory over Chesterfield eased supporters’ concerns a fair bit but it’s a source of concern that we’re so reliant on Tommy Bradders when it comes to bringing home the bacon. We look so much more likely to score with him in the side and such has been the standard of his finishing so far that it seems a bit odd that he’s not operating at a higher level. From my seat in the Upper Gilbert he looked very close to being offside as he tucked away the game’s only goal but the ball ended up in the net via a classy touch from our leading scorer so I’m certainly not going to quibble. It really ought to have been his second strike of the game following that close range header in the first half when he looked odds-on to score only for the ball to loop harmlessly to the Spireites’ keeper but that one goal proved to be enough to bring home the points and lift us back above the trap door, meaning we could all feel slightly more contented as we awaited Monday’s FA Cup draw. I wouldn’t have minded being drawn away to Weston Super Mare but a home draw is always welcome, with the news that we’ll again face Salop drawing a groan from both sets of fans. Thoughts will revert to last season, and the fact that we beat them three times without conceding any goals might give rise to a feeling of complacency among fans but this game will be no foregone conclusion given the way the Shrews pushed Chelsea all the way in the League Cup just a few days ago. Another competition to give us a home draw is the Paint Pot in which we’ll entertain Clough Junior’s stuttering Blades who are, it seems to me, absolutely nothing to be afraid of. We’re going to be on the telly for this game so let’s hope the lads can put on the sort of showing we laid on last time we were on the box, against Posh at the beginning of the year.

It seems that Andy Butler has played his final game in our colours and there’s no doubt his presence will be missed. Paul Downing never seems quite as at ease when he’s partnered by someone else but that’s something he’ll have to get used to as he progresses although I wonder if we have anyone else who has quite the air of authority Andy always seemed to have. Butler’s lead-by-example qualities – and THAT goal at the Custard Bowl - have been the only positive legacies of the Chris Hutchings era, but he was bound to get one right eventually…..

By: Hillary Street-Ender.
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