Big Enoch endears himself to the Notts County fans as he takes his chance
LEE Hughes was back at Meadow Lane last night, but Notts County fans were celebrating their new No.9. Finally.
It was Hughes' first return since he left the Magpies earlier this month and he saw them beat another one of his former club's, Oldham Athletic, 1-0 – as Enoch Showunmi scored his first league goal for the club five months after arriving at Notts.
He was only playing because Francois Zoko was suspended, but he took his chance, tapping in from point-blank range in the first half to inspire Notts to their first home league win in two months and back into the top-half of League One.
The frost covers only came off the pitch an hour before kick-off and soon after the Magpies uncovered only one change to their team from the 1-1 draw against Sheffield United three days earlier – and it was Showunmi, given only his second league start of the season, for Zoko.
Business Cards From Only £10.95 Delivered www.myprint-247.co.ukView details
Our heavyweight cards have FREE UV silk coating, FREE next day delivery & VAT included. Choose from 1000's of pre-designed templates or upload your own artwork. Orders dispatched within 24hrs.
Terms: Visit our site for more products: Business Cards, Compliment Slips, Letterheads, Leaflets, Postcards, Posters & much more. All items are free next day delivery. www.myprint-247.co.uk
Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Friday, May 31 2013
He joined leading scorer Yoann Arquin in attack, while Alan Judge, who scored a late leveller against United, started just behind those two and captain Neal Bishop, Andre Boucaud, Jeff Hughes and Jamal Campbell-Ryce were named in midfield.
Curle again chose a three-man defence of Dean Leacock, Gary Liddle and Alan Sheehan, in front of goalkeeper Bartosz Bialkowski.
The Magpies were first to threaten on 11 minutes.
Boucaud was tripped just outside the penalty area and Judge stepped up and curled a free-kick just past the top-left corner of the visitors' goal.
The two shining lights for Notts this season, Boucaud and Judge, created a second good chance soon after.
This time, on 13 minutes, Boucaud slipped a pass through into the penalty area for his team-mate, he rounded Latics goalkeeper Dean Bouzanis, but could then only drive a shot into the side-netting.
Arquin should then have put the Magpies 1-0 ahead on 17 minutes.
Campbell-Ryce did superbly to turn past two Oldham players on the right wing and whip a cross into the box for the Frenchman, who rose above his marker but directed a header wide of Bouzanis' left-hand post from seven yards.
Arquin had a chance to atone four minutes later, but struck a powerful shot wide from 20 yards after seizing onto a pass from Campbell-Ryce, who then put the visitors under more pressure with two dangerous crosses into the penalty area in quick succession.
Notts continued to dominate their opponents and finally broke them down on 35 minutes to take a 1-0 lead.
Boucaud made it with a glorious 30-yard, defence-splitting pass that sent Campbell-Ryce racing into the box and Showunmi will not have scored an easier goal in his career, as the winger squared the ball to him and he stroked it into an empty net from two yards.
Having waited so long to score his first league goal for the club, Showunmi could have netted a second seven minutes later as Jeff Hughes drove a low cross across the face of goal, but he did not make a gambling run into the six-yard box and another simple chance went begging.
Undeterred, Notts ended the first half on top and Hughes drove a shot just wide of Bouzanis' right-hand post on the stroke of half-time, after racing onto a pass from Arquin.
Having commanded the first 45 minutes, the Magpies survived a scare early in the second half as Oldham threatened for the first time.
Notts have been vulnerable from set pieces all season and Latics defender Jonathan Grounds met a free-kick into the penalty area with a powerful header, directing it over the bar from eight yards.
Judge then curled a free-kick high, wide and into the Kop for the Magpies before the visitors went so close to equalising on 57 minutes.
It took a super, goal-line clearance from Liddle to stop midfielder Chris Sutherland making it 1-1, after he beat Bialkowski to a left-wing cross into the box and headed the ball towards goal. Racing back, Liddle somehow hooked the ball over his head and off the line.
Oldham then made a triple substitution just after the hour mark in an attempt to put Notts under more pressure, following those two good chances. But it was the Magpies that created the next good chance on 78 minutes.
It fell to Judge and he should have taken it, as Arquin used his strength to hold off a defender and cross the ball to him inside the six-yard box, but he sliced a shot well wide.
Showunmi then went close to killing off the visitors a minute later.
Judge was the creator this time, lifting a cross into the box and he leapt high into the air to meet it, but put a header over the bar.
He might have missed, but it sparked chants of 'Enoch Showunmi, Enoch Showunmi!' from the Kop for the very first time.
On a cold night, they were clearly warming to the towering striker and when he was subbed just a few minutes later, he exited the pitch to applause.
The game was still not over, though, and Boucaud made a great clearing header in the closing minutes as Oldham exerted some late pressure.
Bialkowski then made a good save to deny Jose Baxter on 88 minutes, after he drove a low shot at goal from the edge of the penalty area.
There were five minutes of injury time at the end and nervousness rippled around the stadium when the fourth official signalled for it. But there was no need for fans to be fearful as Notts held on to claim a vital victory.
MAN OF THE MATCH: Andre Boucaud. The Magpies midfielder was superb throughout and set up Enoch Showunmi's first-half winner with a great 30-yard defence-splitting pass. He also made a great clearing header in the dying stages.
REFEREE WATCH: Mark Brown (East Yorkshire). The biggest decision he had to make at Meadow Lane last night was whether to let the game go ahead – and Notts were so glad he did not call it off as they went on to beat Oldham 1-0.
NOTTS: Bialkowski, Liddle, Leacock, Sheehan, Bishop, Boucaud, Campbell-Ryce (Labadie, 89), Hughes, Judge, Showunmi (Bencherif, 82), Arquin (Nangle, 90+2). Subs: Spiess, Kelly, Smith, Mahon.
OLDHAM: Bouzanis, Grounds, M'Voto, Byrne, Wabara, Sutherland (Simpson, 65), M'Changama (Croft, 64), Wesolowski, Taylor (Winchester, 65), Smith, Baxter. Subs: Cisak, Brown, Tarkowski, Mellor.
ATTENDANCE: 3,309 (80 away).
Other League One results: Brentford 2 Leyton Orient 2, Bury P Sheff Utd P, Hartlepool 1 Bournemouth 2