Linby Colliery Welfare were happy, and Notts County were impressive. They were the over-riding reactions after a high-profile friendly between the two clubs launched another season of domestic football action in the Dispatch district.
The Magpies’ new manager, John Sheridan, brought a strong side to tackle Linby in a match at the Rolls-Royce Leisure Club ground on Watnall Road last Saturday that attracted a bumper crowd of about 400.
Sheridan’s men delighted their fans by striding to a classy 7-0 victory, with triallist, ex-Walsall man Will Mellor-Blair, bagging a hat-trick. But Linby’s own new boss, Lewis Saxby, also had plenty to smile about in his first match in charge.
“I was proud of my boys, despite the scoreline,” said Saxby, who has replaced Dave Marlow at the Church Lane club. “Playing against a team who have the luxury of training every day and being able to hold a shape like we did was all I could have asked for.
“The fitness levels started to show as the game wore on, but to say it was only 4-0 up to the 72nd minute was quite good. We worked hard for each other, and we will get things out of this game that we won’t get from any other pre-season friendly.”
Not only did Sheridan field a team for the match, he also took part in a question-and-answer session with supporters and, along with his players, posed for photos and signed autographs. The day also featured a barbecue and a charity fundraiser.
Among the Magpies fans in the crowd was veteran Hucknall councillor John Wilmott, who said: “After John had spoken to supporters, they seemed satisfied that he was a good managerial appointment and could have a steadying influence on the club.
“He said he was quietly optimistic for the new season and liked an attacking style of play with two strikers. He felt he required three more new signings to complete his squad.”
The Notts squad featured first-team players, such as ex-England U21 goalkeeper Scott Loach and defender Haydn Hollis, plus triallists and youngsters.
They hit Linby with a barrage of attacks from the off, passing and moving the ball quickly, and took the lead in the ninth minute when Jordan Snodin, son-in-law of former professional Ian Snodin, saw his shot from the edge of the box deflect into the net. Adam Campbell jabbed home the second goal in the 23rd minute after his initial effort had been saved, and Mellor-Blair grabbed his first on 33 when converting a penalty.
Early in the second half, striker Joe Butler had a couple of chances to get Linby on the scoresheet. But instead Mellor-Blair, who is originally from Nottinghham but has been playing in the USA, struck again with a 20-yard thunderbolt. The scoring was completed by Jordan Richards, substitute Montel Gibson and Mellor-Blair again.