Meadow Lane was absolutely bouncing today as Notts County came from behind to beat relegation threatened rivals Sheffield United 2-1 today.
A wonderful team performance left Shaun Derry beaming, and with two home wins on the bounce and seemingly a very strong bond in the changing room, there are very few negatives around at County right now.
However, as good a team performance as it was, one man stood out for Notts – as he has so often this season – gliding forward whenever he had the ball, bringing his side with him, continually making the right decisions on the ball, spreading the play, coming inside off his wing and popping up all over the place: Jack Grealish.
And here we stumble upon one of the only negatives rolling round Meadow Lane tonight, as today could be his last game for the club.
On loan from Aston Villa, his contract with Notts runs out on Monday and as yet, hasn’t been extended.
Grealish himself has said he’d like to stay, and manager Shaun Derry has made it abundantly clear that he wants to keep the 18-year-old winger, but Aston Villa have yet to play their hand and there’s talk that he may move on to a club a little higher in League One, or even up to the Championship.
“Jack has to go back to Villa on Monday to discuss his short term future, but long term he’ll be playing for Aston Villa, that’s for sure,” said Derry after the game, who is clearly a huge fan of the youngster.
“He’s got numerous options but next season Jack’s got the ability to play for Villa and let’s hope here at Notts County we can help him on his way.”
If Derry can indeed keep hold of the stylish winger, it’ll help his quest to keep County up no end.
Jamal Campbell-Ryce, playing on the opposite wing to Grealish today, was exceptional too, setting up Enoch Showunmi’s equalising goal and terrorising the Sheffield United defence in the first half.
But he quietened down a little in the second period, whilst Grealish remained prominent throughout, picking up the ball all across the line and generally always beating a man before picking out the right pass.
County’s winning goal was set up by Alan Sheehan, who whipped in a delicious ball from left back, but it was Grealish, breaking through the centre, who played the defender in initially.
Then, in the last two minutes with his side hanging on for victory, Grealish found himself on the halfway line surrounded by three defenders but somehow he glided through – and he really does glide, covering the ground with an admirable elegance – made his way down the line and won a corner to take the pressure off his own defence.
It was a wonderfully mature display from a very young footballer, a footballer who is clearly destined for bigger and better things – but let’s just hope he sticks around at Notts for a little while longer yet.