Chris Kiwomya shows he deserves more time at Notts County
JOHN Cofie did not waste any time, Fabian Spiess continued to have the time of his life and Chris Kiwomya now deserves more of it.
All three of them made impressive full debuts at Meadow Lane for Notts County against Crewe Alexandra.
Striker Cofie, just a day after joining the Magpies on loan from Manchester United, scored to rescue a 1-1 draw, goalkeeper Spiess made several super saves to deny the visitors and caretaker-manager Kiwomya, who stood in the home dug-out for the very first and maybe last time, inspired a stirring fightback in the second half.
There is a strong sense the board are ready to give Kiwomya more time to prove he is the right man to lead the club forward.
Jim Rodwell, the chief executive, said the top job at Meadow Lane is his to lose only a week ago, before a 2-0 defeat at Stevenage and this home draw.
Chairman Ray Trew did not go quite as far as that in his matchday programme notes, but he did write: "I must call on everyone to get behind Chris and his team.
"No decision has been taken on a permanent appointment at this stage, but Chris has a great opportunity to state his case and I know it's an opportunity he is keen to seize."
Kiwomya ultimately stated his case well against Crewe.
The Magpies' performance in the first half, in which they went 1-0 down from the penalty spot in injury time, might well have tempted Trew to give Steve Cotterill a call during half-time, but they were terrific in the second half and deserved to win in the end.
Kiwomya inspired the transformation with two tactical changes, switching Jeff Hughes into central midfield and throwing Yoann Arquin on in attack, to join Cofie.
Both changes paid off big time, as Hughes got a grip on the game in midfield and Arquin terrorised the Crewe defence.
Kiwomya also started the game with a back-four, not a back-three favoured by Keith Curle towards the end of his reign, restoring Julian Kelly at right-back, alongside Dean Leacock, Gary Liddle and Alan Sheehan, and the Magpies looked more solid.
On top of all of that, Kiwomya's first signing, Cofie, scored the equalising goal. Talk about being made to look good.
Backed in the transfer market, Kiwomya looks to have signed a promising young striker.
Arriving at Meadow Lane from Old Trafford on Friday morning, Cofie only trained once with his new team-mates before being thrown straight into the team as a lone striker, as Kiwomya dropped Arquin and Francois Zoko.
But he took his chance very well in the second half, seizing onto a mistake by Crewe defender Adam Dugdale on 57 minutes, racing forward and driving a shot past the visitors' goalkeeper Steve Phillips and inside his right-hand post from just outside the penalty area.
He is already now a hero of the Kop, although he had to share that status with Spiess because the teenage goalkeeper was in unbeatable form, making three top saves to stop Crewe scoring.
Two of them were in the opening minutes.
The Magpies have conceded so many early goals already this year, against MK Dons, Sheffield United, Hartlepool United and Stevenage, who scored after just 26 seconds, and they would have been 2-0 down against Crewe in eight minutes if it wasn't for Spiess.
First, he somehow parried away a point-blank range header from defender Mark Ellis from a corner on five minutes and then, better still, he tipped a long-range shot from midfielder Bradden Inman onto the foot of his left-hand post three minutes later.
His third wonder save came in the second half, after Cofie had made it 1-1, as Crewe captain Luke Murphy struck a dipping volley at goal from 25-yards on 77 minutes that he tipped onto the crossbar and over.
The only time Spiess was beaten was from the penalty spot, almost on the stroke of half-time.
Gavin Mahon, making his first home league start of the season, brought down Crewe striker Ajay Leitch-Smith inside the box and Murphy buried the spot kick into the top-right corner of the net.
Spiess went the wrong way on that occasion, but there is only one way he is going in his career. Up.
And the Magpies are certainly going to have a big decision to make when No.1 goalkeeper Bartosz Bialkowski is fully fit after a bad head injury.
Another player destined for a big future is Alan Judge, the club's star midfielder, and he went so close to scoring just two minutes into the second half, crashing a long-range shot against the bar.
That was the moment Notts sparked into life and Andre Boucaud then curled a shot just wide on 49 minutes as the Magpies put Crewe under pressure for the first time.
After Cofie's equaliser, Notts threatened to score a second goal on 62 minutes as Sheehan crossed into the box for Arquin and he directed a header at goal from eight yards, but Phillips saved it.
The French striker then rifled a long-range shot just wide of Phillips' right-hand post a minute later and forced him into another save on 68 minutes, after seizing onto the ball inside the box and driving a low shot at goal.
Sheehan then came within inches of netting a winner on 85 minutes with a powerful right-footed strike, after beating two men on the edge of the box.
Notts deserved all three points, but they had to settle for one.
Now all are waiting to see if Kiwomya will be given more time in the hot seat.