That was an interesting day. I started with the intention of going to Walsall Wood to cover their FA Trophy game and ended up in.... Nottingham.
It got the dreaded P-P reading around 11am on Saturday morning, which is always gutting to hear, particularly when its a cup tie. But hey, every cloud. They're in the fourth round draw, with just one other Step 4 team in Nantwich Town, who won yesterday.
At least it isn't as cold as last week. Even with thermals on, it was feckin' freezing (see Homecoming blog for more details)
Not wanting to lose my streak of going to a football match every week for the past 11 weeks, I wanted to make sure I found a match that was on. So, instead, I made the trip up to Meadow Lane to watch Notts County host Walsall.
Strong playoff contenders facing a team that haven't won since mid-October or scored in four league games. This would be night and day, surely?
I got to the ground around 2pm and made the long circular trek round to the away ticket office, situated by one of the long stands.
Once I was in, I made the mandatory food order (a steak pie) and went to find my seat. The food is a very important part of the day out, of course. However, I'm sorry to report that this pie that was served to me tasted a little like wet cardboard. Well, what I imagine that would taste like as I can't say I've ever eaten wet carboard. I also noted that, at half time, going to get a hot drink, there were none featured on the menus.... but more on that later.
The programme that I bought earlier on featured a Notts County fan who had reached over 3000 games watching the Magpies since 1965, and had missed just three away trips between 1972 and 2020. Now THAT is commitment.
In comparison, the last time I came to Meadow Lane was 12 years ago, to watch this very fixture with my Dad. County won 2-1 that day.
The first half offered very little. County scored from an easy header in the middle box, and Walsall nearly scored a free kick from the halfway line that would've been a goal of the season contender, had it gone in. Unfortunately it sailed just wide.
Half time was met with some boos from the Walsall fans and occasional chants of "We want Sadler out". The odd bit though was the concourse/terrace area (what do you call that bit where you queue for food?) was about as narrow as a standard hallway in a house, meaning that trying to get anywhere was quite challenging. Furthermore, when I went to get a hot drink, maybe a tea or Bovril (which only exists at a football match, I'm convinced) there were no hot drinks displayed on the menus of any of the food and drink hatches that I could find. Bit of a downer, so I went back to my seat instead.
Scrolling through the half-time Premier League fixtures saw Burnley and Sheffield United BOTH winning and Manchester United losing to Bournemouth, two of which were surprising (I'll leave that open to interpretation).
We wondered whether it could get any worse for Walsall? Barely any chances and lucky not to be three or four goals down at the interval.
It all changed on the 56th minute though, as another header in the box, this time for Walsall, was saved well at point blank range but it rebounded in off the post.
After that, the Saddlers never looked back and the roles were reversed. County barely had a look in and fell asleep nine minutes later when McEntee scored his second from an unmarked position and thumped it into the back of the net.
A huge three points for Walsall in dreadful conditions (I've seen - and played - in worse but it was still bad) and that, no doubt, gives Mat Sadler a few more games. Is he the long term solution? Probably not. Will he keep Walsall up? Probably.
I sauntered out of the ground and found a pub that was showing the Villa v Arsenal game. Villa are in a title race. Imagine saying that at the start of this year.
I watched the game while overhearing some old (presumably drunk or at least tipsy) blokes rambling loudly about various things with an air of sexism.
I left at the beginning of the second half and dashed back to the station.
There are two matchweeks remaining until Christmas and I have absolutely no idea how many blogs will feature between now and the end of the year, as in recent weeks they are about as reliable as Southern Rail.
So I'll say see you next week. If not, Merry Christmas, Happy New Year. Maybe Happy Easter as well, for good measure.