Match report: Colchester United 0 Notts County 2
OMG. Notts County were well reem last night and their captain Neal Bishop scored a goal that left everyone well jel.
Translated from 'The Only Way is Essex' slang, Notts produced a great performance to beat Colchester United 2-0 down in Essex and Bishop scored a superb goal to set them on their way to the victory in League One.
It was not quite as stunning as his wonder goal at MK Dons earlier this season, but it was still a special volley.
Alan Judge scored their second goal at the end of the first half so they led 2-0 at half-time.
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They threw away a 2-0 lead against Bournemouth at Meadow Lane only last month, but it did not happen this time as they went onto win and extend their incredible unbeaten away run to 17 games. Yes, 17.
The Magpies were entirely unchanged from their FA Cup win at Portsmouth, so leading scorer Yoann Arquin, who netted his sixth goal of the season at Fratton Park, once again led their attack, though Lee Hughes notably returned to their squad after recovering from a virus.
Bishop and Andre Boucaud were paired in central midfield and in front of those two were the attacking trio of Jamal Campbell-Ryce, Francois Zoko and Judge.
Jeff Hughes started at left-back again because of injuries to Alan Sheehan and Jordan Stewart, Dean Leacock and Damion Stewart were named at the heart of their defence and Gary Liddle was at right-back, in front of their No.1 goalkeeper Bartosz Bialkowski.
The home side were first to threaten on nine minutes.
Leacock brought down Colchester striker Jabo Ibehre just outside the penalty area, defender Michael Rose stepped up to take the free-kick and drove it against the outside of Bialkowski's left-hand post.
Bialkowski then held a dangerous cross whipped into the penalty area by Brian Wilson from the right wing under pressure from Ibehre on 12 minutes and just moments later, as Notts struggled to get into their stride, Ibehre sent Ian Henderson racing into the box. Fortunately for the Magpies, Zoko was there to stop the winger.
Having survived those early scares, Notts then took their first chance on 17 minutes.
Judge swung a free-kick into the penalty area from the right and Bishop scored a super goal, leaping to volley the ball past Colchester goalkeeper Mark Cousins from ten yards.
The strike was so good Cousins had no chance and even Rose, who was stood almost on the goal-line, could not stop the ball flying into the top-right corner of the net as Bishop peeled away to celebrate his fourth goal of the season.
Talk about clinical. One chance. One goal. 1-0. The home side came roaring back though.
Ibehre was looking their biggest threat and he forced Bialkowski into a save with a header from 12 yards on 22 minutes, after Rose had curled the ball into the box.
Notts then threatened to double their lead on 27 minutes.
Jeff Hughes passed to Boucaud and he drove forward from the centre circle to the edge of the Colchester penalty area and slid the ball through for Arquin, but the young Frenchman had strayed offside. He drove the ball into the bottom-left corner of the net, but it didn't count. The linesman's flag was up.
On a cold night, the game was warming up as midfielder Marcus Bean rifled over Bialkowski's bar on 28 minutes and Arquin was denied by Cousins two minutes later, after racing onto Bishop's pass into the box and aiming a low shot towards the bottom-right corner of the net.
The Magpies were not to be denied, however, and they made it 2-0 on 44 minutes.
The goal came from another free-kick. This time Leacock hit the ball to the edge of the box from inside the Notts half, Zoko deftly flicked it over the Colchester defence and Judge finished the move. How he finished the move.
Showing astounding anticipation, he was racing forward as the ball fell to Zoko so he was entirely unmarked as it dropped inside the penalty area and he prodded it past the onrushing Cousins.
Leading 2-0, the Magpies were in command and they quickly showed their intent to kill off the home side in the opening stages of the second half.
Bishop was central to almost everything, driving them forward and he drove a low shot at goal on 52 minutes that was deflected wide. Judge then swung the subsequent corner into the six-yard box and it flashed all the way across the face of goal.
Colchester were not dead and buried, however, and Bialkowski made a great save to deny Henderson on 55 minutes, as he controlled a pass inside the penalty area and tried to lift the ball over the Pole.
Notts responded quickly. Campbell-Ryce released Arquin down the right on 59 minutes and he hit a low cross into the six-yard box that Zoko put wide at the near post.
Colchester then introduced Freddie Sears, who the Magpies tried to sign in the summer, and he almost made an instant impact.
Seizing onto a pass from Ibehre on 69 minutes, he raced forward and dangerously towards the box and it took a great tackle from Jeff Hughes to stop him.
Notts then came within inches of making it 3-0 at the end of their best attacking move. Liddle raided forward down the right and crossed to Judge, who sidestepped a defender and curled a shot just wide of Cousins right-hand post.
It was so close, in fact, there were those inside the ground, including a couple of Judge's team-mates, who thought for a split second the ball had crept inside the post.
It hadn't, but it made no difference in the end. Two goals were enough, though Henderson hit the Magpies' bar with a close-range header from a corner on 89 minutes.
Forget 'The Only Way is Essex' though, the only way is up for Notts this season. Surely.
COLCHESTER: Cousins, Wilson, Okuonghae, Eastman, Rose, Henderson, Eastmond (Morrison, 87), Bean (Bond, 67), Wordsworth, Massey (Sears, 67), Ibehre. Subs: Pentney, White, O'Toole, Duguid.
NOTTS: Bialkowski, Liddle, Leacock, D Stewart, J Hughes, Bishop, Boucaud, Campbell-Ryce (Bencherif, 84), Zoko (L Hughes, 78), Judge (Mahon, 89), Arquin. Subs: Mitchell, Williams, Eastham, Showunmi.
REFEREE: Carl Berry (Surrey).
ATTENDANCE: 3,051 (195 away).