Bishop scores and Notts County don't lose, so what's new there!
NOTTS County were just like Justin Bieber.
Well, maybe not quite. They only turned up 31 minutes late at Meadow Lane last night, just as their fans were starting to get restless, and in the end a remarkable record was maintained in a 1-1 draw against Leyton Orient in League One.
Captain Neal Bishop fired the Magpies 1-0 ahead in the first half with his second goal in three games and his seventh of the season and whenever he scores this campaign Notts never lose, with his previous six goals coming in wins against Hartlepool United, Colchester United, Carlisle United and draws against MK Dons, Crawley Town and Tranmere Rovers.
The Magpies were denied a victory from the penalty spot in the second half, Orient's sub striker Kevin Lisbie scoring after defender Dean Leacock brought down Charlie MacDonald inside the box, and a draw leaves them seven points adrift of the play-offs with ten games of the season to go.
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It was a big night for Notts – and boss Chris Kiwomya made a big call by giving 20-year-old defender Haydn Hollis only his second ever start for the club, 14 long months after he made his league debut.
Hollis, a graduate of the Centre of Excellence at Meadow Lane, joined Leacock in the heart of the Magpies' defence, while Gary Liddle was switched to right-back and Alan Sheehan started at left-back as they reverted to a back-four, having played with three at the back in their 1-0 win against Carlisle United on Saturday.
It was plainly a move to free Jamal Campbell-Ryce, so often one of their most threatening attacking players, of any defensive responsibility and he started on the right wing.
Alan Judge, their match-winner against Carlisle, began on the left wing and Bishop and Andre Boucaud were named in central midfield.
On-loan Manchester United striker John Cofie and Francois Zoko were paired together in attack and Bartosz Bialkowski was in goal, five weeks after suffering a bad head injury in a 2-1 loss against Orient at Brisbane Road in a challenge with MacDonald, who started for the visitors.
The pair shook hands before kick-off and then MacDonald shook Notts for a split second on ten minutes, seizing onto the ball inside the box after Bialkowski spilled a long-range shot from Martin Rowlands and coolly slotting it into the net. Fortunately for Notts, he was quickly flagged offside and so the Pole's error went unpunished.
The Magpies looked set to threaten for the first time on 17 minutes as Zoko pounced in a loose pass inside the centre circle and spread the ball out wide to Campbell-Ryce, but he crossed the ball straight into the hands of Orient goalkeeper Jamie Jones, leaving both Zoko and Cofie frustrated inside the penalty area and Notts fans restless in their seats.
Rowlands tested Bialkowski's handling for a second time with another powerful strike on 20 minutes, this time from the edge of the box and this time it was far, far better as the Magpies' no.1 made a confident catch.
Notts scored to go 1-0 ahead 11 minutes later, as Bishop started and finished their first purposeful attack of the game.
After winning the ball, he passed to Boucaud and began to surge forward. Boucaud passed to Zoko, who fed Judge and he measured a pass into the stride of Bishop, who curled a shot beyond Jones and inside his right-hand post from just inside the penalty area. Bit their celebrations were almost shortlived, however.
Having taken so long to make a vital breakthrough, the Magpies very nearly surrendered their lead just two minutes later as Orient midfielder Jimmy Smith crashed a shot from inside the box against the crossbar.
That scare for Notts was the last memorable act of the first half, though the Magpies lost Cofie to injury on 42 minutes.
French striker Yoann Arquin replaced him and Notts then made a second change at the start of the second half, sacrificing striker Zoko for Jeff Hughes in order to add a fifth man into their midfield and better protect their precious one-goal lead.
Hughes almost did better than that on 56 minutes, leading a quick counter-attack from which Arquin might well have made it 2-0.
Seizing onto an Orient throw-in, Hughes raced away down the left and cut the ball back to Arquin on the edge of the penalty area, but his shot at goal was tame and easy for Jones to save.
Orient threw on Lisbie, who is recovering his fitness after a hamstring injury, on 61 minutes and he levelled from the penalty spot five minutes later, after Leacock had brought down MacDonald inside the box.
MacDonald had raced onto a flick-on from Lisbie and into the box, Leacock slid in rashly, ref Jeremy Simpson pointed at the spot and Lisbie buried the ball into the bottom-right corner of the net.
The visitors then went close to scoring a second goal on 76 minutes, midfielder Romain Vincelot directing a header narrowly off target from close range from a left-wing cross.
The Magpies then stirred. Arquin held off two defenders and fired wide from the edge of the penalty area on 78 minutes, Campbell-Ryce stung Jones' palms with a powerful strike two minutes later and Boucaud blasted a 30-yard shot just wide on 85 minutes.
But a winning goal proved elusive and they had to settle for a draw, which extends their unbeaten league run to six games, but does little for their play-off hopes, in truth.
MAN OF THE MATCH: Neal Bishop. The Magpies' captain scored a great goal in the first half to put Notts 1-0 ahead and take his career-record tally of goals to seven.
REF WATCH: Jeremy Simpson (Lancashire). A first year ref, he made the right call on the penalty that denied Notts victory, after Dean Leacock slid in and brought down Orient striker Charlie MacDonald.
NOTTS: Bialkowski, Liddle, Leacock, Hollis, Sheehan, Campbell-Ryce, Bishop, Boucaud, Judge, Zoko (Hughes, 46), Cofie (Arquin, 42). Subs: Spiess, Smith, Bencherif, Tempest, Blyth.
ORIENT: Jones, Cuthbert, Baudry, Clarke, McSweeney, Odubajo (Cook, 62), Vincelot, Smith (Lisbie, 61), Rowlands, Cox, MacDonald (Obafemi, 77). Subs: Grainger, James, Omozusi.
ATTENDANCE: 4,004 (172 away).