The Big Match Preview: - Notts County (A)
It’s been a bit of a rollercoaster ride for Notts County over the last 12 months. Alan Sheehan kept Notts County in League One with an equalising spot kick on the final day of last season at Oldham Athletic and pre-season expectation, particularly amongst bookmakers was another dog fight at the bottom end. County started the season brilliantly and held an unbeaten league away record until a 1-0 defeat at the Coral Windows Stadium on the 28th December. Pre-season expectation would probably have been a respectable league finish.
Ins and Outs
In the summer, County went through a large transition in terms of players in and out of the football club. Notable signings included Gary Jones and Garry Thompson following an end to their time with Bradford City. Jamal Campbell-Ryce has recently signed on loan from Sheffield United, he only left County for United in the summer but he has returned to Meadow Lane. Veteran goalkeeper Roy Carroll joined the club from Olympiakos and Alan Smith bolstered the midfield department as well as Liam Noble; the two arrived from MK Dons and Carlisle United respectively.
A key duo in County’s ‘great escape’ last season, Gary Liddle and Alan Sheehan moved to Bradford City following their departure from Meadow Lane. Impressive loan duo Jack Grealish and Callum McGregor returned to their parent clubs Aston Villa and Celtic respectively, and goalkeeper Bart Bialkowski moved to Championship side Ipswich Town.
Current League Position
County are currently 19th in League One and six points above the League One relegation zone. It’s been a fair demise for the club who were well in the play-off mix just a few months back, but it’s a tight league and football changes. Saying this though, they are 9 points outside the top six with a game in hand on 6th place Doncaster Rovers. The season really could go either way for Shaun Derry’s men.
Jak Alnwick is expected to come in and make his debut for the club in goal following his arrival on loan from Newcastle United. Andrew Davies is a doubt with an arm injury which led to him being substituted at half time in the mid-week draw at Coventry City. Phil Parkinson could make a number of changes to the team that were held in mid-week, with Monday night’s FA Cup Quarter-Final replay at Reading on the horizon.
Ronan Murray is out of contention after complications with a groin injury ended his season prematurely. Jimmy Spencer is back in training for the club, but he won’t be fit enough to feature on Saturday. The attacking injury crisis has been fixed though, with Leroy Lita arriving on loan from Barnsley and he is expected to start on Saturday. Liam Noble missed out through suspension, following his red card in the 3-0 defeat to Swindon Town last weekend.
Last Meetings with Notts County:
Our last meeting with Notts County was just prior to the New Year’s Eve back in December and City came out on top in a scrappy 1-0 victory at the Coral Windows Stadium. Billy Knott’s deflected angled drive from just inside the area found its way past Roy Carroll just before half time to ultimately give City all three points.
The last visit to Meadow Lane was a miserable one. On New Year’s Day 2014, the Bantams travelled to Nottingham and left with a heavy defeat to their name. Jamal Campbell-Ryce ended a long run with a tidy finish from the edge of the area to give County a half time lead and late goals from Callum McGregor and Jack Grealish confirmed victory for the home side.
Notts County’s Recent Form
07/03/15 | Swindon Town 3-0 Notts County | League One | L
03/03/15 | Colchester United 0-1 Notts County | League One | W
28/02/15 | Notts County 0-1 Port Vale | League One | L
21/02/15 | Fleetwood Town 2-1 Notts County | League One | L
17/02/15 | Notts County 1-2 Sheffield United | League One | L
Jamal Campbell-Ryce was man of the match in our last trip to Meadow Lane with an impressive display on the wing and he will have to kept at bay if City are to take maximum points this weekend. Almost 32 years of age, the pint sized winger has bags of experience having played for 11 clubs throughout his career – most notably Barnsley, Bristol City and Notts County. He has 6 goals in all competitions this season for parent club Sheffield United, but Nigel Clough allowed him to return to Notts on loan and he is expected to start on Saturday.
Ref Watch – Mark Brown
East Yorkshire based Mark Brown is the man in charge on Saturday afternoon. He has refereed 27 games this season, his latest being Peterborough United’s 1-0 home victory against Leyton Orient last weekend. Brown has dished out 55 yellow cards this season and 6 reds, that’s a rate of almost exactly 2 yellows per game and 0.2 reds.
According to Sky Bet, the Bantams go into this away fixture as favourites and the prices for the match are below. County’s home form is poor this season and have picked up just 14 points from 16 games, with 10 losses. City have picked up 26 points from 17 away league matches.
Notts County – 19/10
Draw – 23/10
Bradford City – 7/5