By Tony Leighton
A good run in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy can boost Notts County's hopes of climbing the Sky Bet League 1 table, says captain Dean Leacock as the Magpies await the draw for the Northern Section Quarter-Final after knocking out favourites Wolverhampton Wanderers on penalties.
High-flying Wolves - third in the table after winning eight of their 10 league games - had home advantage in the Second Round tie but 19th-placed County had much the better of a goalless draw that was followed by a 3-1 shoot-out win, the visitors netting each of their attempts but Wolves missing three of their four.
Central defender Leacock told football-league.co.uk: "We could have been two or three goals up by half-time and had more chances in the second half, but we couldn't convert them. That's been our problem so far this season, but we finished off with three well-taken penalties and deserved to go through.
"We've got to use this performance as a platform to build on. We've been improving of late, confidence has been growing with a couple of good results and now this. If we can go on to do well in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy it will lift everybody at the club and hopefully rub off on our league form."
County's form in League 1 has certainly improved after a poor start to the campaign, Chris Kiwomya's team taking just one point from their first seven outings to lie bottom of the table. But they have won two of their last three matches to drag themselves out of the relegation zone.
Saturday's 4-0 win against Crewe Alexandra, the biggest victory since Kiwomya's February appointment, lifted the pressure that seemed to have been growing on the young manager and was certainly a concern for the players.
"We weren't playing well enough for the gaffer early on in the season," admitted Leacock.
"That put him under pressure at one point and the players got together and had some harsh words with each other. We've got a lot of time for the gaffer, he's a new manager in his first full season and we want to do well for him. That's what's happening now and we've just got to keep it going.
"We showed how good we can be at a difficult place like Wolves, so hopefully we've turned the corner now. The gaffer's given us a few days off because our game on Saturday is off through international calls, so we'll come back refreshed and aiming to go out for another win when we play Swindon next week."
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