I would say it’s been our best season in a long, long time. There’s a real feel good factor around the club, and it’s been a joy to follow the Magpies this season. This group of players keep delivering; long may it continue.
Some might tell you we’ve had a drop off in form, but I think 20 games unbeaten, a club record, begs to differ. We were certainly back to our best against Halifax, and whilst Solihull last time out wasn’t our best showing, we dug in and found a way to win. The last 2 results have given us all a lot of confidence; we’ve won in different ways, but continue to collect points.
There’s been absolutely loads, it’s hard to pick just a few! When Langstaff finally got his hat trick after so many braces, that was pretty special. Breaking the club record for games unbeaten is a massive achievement, one nobody would have expected. From a personal point of view, Eastleigh away was loads of fun, one of the best away atmospheres I’ve experienced.
Can I pick the whole 11? Langstaff is obviously key for the amount of goals he scored. Ruben Rodrigues is probably our most important player; when he performs, which is most games, we dominate the game. He creates, runs the game and is absolute quality. Aden Baldwin at the back is also important for the way in which we build from the back. He is also our last line of defence, and as we often commit men in the opposition half his defensive recoveries have been vital too.
Luke Williams is fantastic, as evidenced by the fact we’ve handed him a contract extension. He’s the first manager in a long time who has got it both on and off the pitch. The whole fan base is behind him, something quite rare at County! As for tactics, he’s taken our style of play under Burchnall, possession heavy football, and expanded it. We play with more intensity, pressing the opposition relentlessly, while still dominating the ball for the vast majority of games.
I’d say we will go with our usual 5-2-2-1 system. I expect us to remain largely unchanged. If Brindley is back fit I think he would return at RCB. I expect Bostock to start in place of Bajrami, following his strong showing against Solihull. Scott also struggled against Solihull, so I could see Austin getting his place back in the side too.
Unless either side has a dramatic drop off, yes it will go to the wire! The longer we stay in it the more confident I get. As long as we are in touching distance when we come down the straight, we have a very good chance. If I had to choose I’d still say Wrexham win it, but with each game the chances of us taking it only grow.
It’s a long journey, with many setting off on Friday night rather than the Saturday. I know a lot of fans love the weekend down in Torquay, so numbers will be boosted by that. The good feeling around the club has also bolstered away figures. We took 577 away last time, so I’d expect a few more this time around. Stab in the dark, but I’ll say around 700.
STRENGTHS & WEAKNESSES
We have too many strengths to list, but I’d say the way we dominate teams, control the game and ultimately out manoeuvre them is our main strength. We have individual quality too, and such a fantastic coach to put it all together. I’d say our main weakness is that we are susceptible to a mistake while playing out from the back. This is of course an occupational hazard considering the style we play, but it does sometimes lead to unnecessary goals.
OPPOSITION TEAMS & PLAYERS
The toughest side we’ve faced this season is Chesterfield, although that was extremely early on in the season. For 60 minutes of that game they were well on top, the only time this season we’ve not got the better of proceedings. As for players, a fair few have impressed me. Sam Beckwith looked good for Maidenhead at Meadow Lane, while Emile Acquah really impressed in the return fixture. I also liked the look of James Vennings at Bromley; a well rounded midfielder at such a young age.
I know you guys have improved of late, but I’ve got to back us to not only extend our unbeaten run, but also get 3 points. I’ll say 2-0, a goal either side of half time.
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