Dom Roman – @DomRoman
The midfield tussle is going to be crucial in this one
We are back! Two weeks off in March/April is never an appealing prospect as far as I’m concerned, even if we did avoid a rather daunting looking trip to Stockport in the process. Our biggest game of the season? Yes let’s call it that, here’s Notts County (h) talking points:
GETTING BACK IN THE GROOVE
Having won the last two games convincingly it was disappointing to face an enforced Spring break. The squad was as fit as it has been all season and we had momentum to take forward, momentum that Gary Johnson will be desperate to rediscover this weekend. We need the lads to come out of the blocks flying in this game, so avoiding any rust will be GJ’s priority in the build-up. The last two teams with play-off ambitions (Boreham and Bromley) to come to Plainmoor both found United too easy to deal with, so we must offer something different and something more ambitious this time around. The good news is that Gary Johnson has had two weeks to gather a game-plan and instil it into his players, and if we get it right there’s no reason why a win can’t be ours.
The midfield tussle is going to be crucial in this one. It’s Duke/Little/Lapslie V Vincent/Arter/Palmer, and the fight for engine room superiority will be fascinating to watch. All three of the United players look in good nick, with Lapslie on a fine run of form, whilst Duke will relish the big crowd and a chance to sock it to County. But Little could be the most important of the 3. If he can make the right passes and find yet another one of his assists or goals, then we have a big chance. But, on the flip side we all remember what a nice player Vincent is, a player who is talented on the ball and can prise open defences, whilst County have unsurprisingly improved since Ireland international Arter obligingly popped over from Notts Forest. That was quite some signing for a club who have been hovering around 7th in the NL for much of the season! Tasty.
Notts County are only now just starting to look like a threatening team in the division, all it took was a Championship midfielder with 19 caps for Ireland joining them! Head coach Ian Burchnall has just about ridden the wave of pressure that inconsistency created, but still has much to prove as a manager, especially considering the quality squad at his disposal. There’s no doubt County have underperformed and you wonder if a manager like Challinor could have taken the brakes off and pushed them much higher up the league. Included in the Notts squad are two dangerous attackers in Ruben Rodrigues, who bagged a hat trick last week, and target man Kyle Wootton, I’ve already mentioned the midfield, whilst centre back Connor Rawlinson has stood out to Opposition Q&Aer Paul Mace and a certain Aaron Nemane might just make an entrance from the bench. A strong team who will aim to boss the game, a challenge that I’m sure Gary Johnson will be ready for.
Grimsby beating Chesterfield 4-1 last weekend was a kick in the teeth for our play-off hopes and the result has made this game a must-win. It’s not all been bad news – Boreham Wood continue to struggle, Daggers are fraught with inconsistency and Bromley look less likely to pick up 70+ points than us, so it could have been worse! 3 points at Plainmoor for the Gulls would raise some eyebrows, and set us up nicely for two very winnable games versus Woking and Eastleigh. This game will be far more intense than Shots/Weymouth and in the heat of the battle, leaders such as Mac, Lewis, Little and Wright will be key. I’m expecting a tight 90 minutes that hinges on some big moments (officiating controversy always likely!), hopefully those moments go our way.
I’m looking forward to this one for many reasons, but especially for the atmosphere that a larger crowd will bring to Plainmoor. Sure it was great to win against Aldershot and Weymouth, but with small away followings the games felt very non-league. With Notts likely to bring down over 600, this will be a much grander occasion, with the pressure and anticipation of a big match I hope that the old place is rocking with songs and banter. Gary Johnson asked for noise from the Yellow Army this week, he knows the importance of the fixture and the impact the home crowd can make. I’m sure we’ll respond to the gaffer, so see you at Plainmoor!
COYY – Dom
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