Notts County travel to Greater Manchester this weekend, as the Magpies take on Sky Bet League Two side Rochdale AFC in the Emirates FA Cup first round.
Notts County come into the tie on an impressive unbeaten run, with previous game concluding in a 0-1 away victory against Grimsby Town. The typical away performance against a side who at the time sat top of the Vanarama National League was rounded off very nicely, as Ruben Rodrigues struck the Magpies to victory in the ninety-second minute. This rounded off an impressive week for Ian Burchnall’s side, who had beaten Stockport County and drew to Bromley prior to the trip to Grimsby Town. As a result of this, Notts County may not be considered as big of an underdog as others in the same division would have been if they were facing Rochdale AFC this weekend. The squad that has been assembled at the club is one of many that many supporters would consider to be competitive in the league above. Moreover, the style of football introduced by Ian Burchnall during his time so far as Notts County Head Coach is far from the expected one-dimensional way of playing and wouldn’t look out of place transpiring in the Sky Bet League Two week in week out. The magpies are certainly not short of players that could comfortably perform consistently in the leagues above. Who else better to start with than Ruben Rodrigues? The Portuguese midfielder is a hot topic currently, this being due to a constant increase of interest for his signature. In attendance at Blundell Park last weekend were scouts from several top English Football League clubs. It’s fair to say Rodrigues sold himself perfectly, with his winner securing a huge three points in a big game. The likes of Cal Roberts, Kyle Cameron and Matty Palmer join Ruben Rodrigues in the same category of English Football League quality players. All three of the players mentioned have past experiences playing consistently in the leagues above and all have had interest from those leagues yet chose to join and remain with Notts County. In conclusion to this, with a fully fit squad on hand for this weekend’s trip to Rochdale AFC, you simply cannot rule the Magpies out before a ball is kicked in this one.
As for the hosts for the tie, Rochdale AFC, they are currently unbeaten in four games in their league campaign. The Dale’s previous league game resulted in a 1-2 away victory against Barrow AFC, courtesy of a brace from Jake Beesley. Coming down from the Sky Bet League One last season, life in their new division hasn’t always been plain sailing for Robbie Stockdale’s side. They currently sit thirteenth in the Sky Bet League One table, three points adrift of the play-off places. The club failed to win any of their first three league fixtures this season, also failing to find the back of the net in the process. However, and as previously mentioned, the Dale seem to have established a resurgence, as they are now looking to close in on a play-off place. Within the Rochdale AFC squad is a familiar face to the Notts County fans, that face belonging to centre half Sam Graham. Prior to his move to Rochdale AFC, Graham had two loan spells at Meadow Lane under previous manager Neal Ardley. Unfortunately, the young defender never was given a proper chance as he only managed to make a combined total of twelve appearances across both spells. The first spell was cut short due to an injury Sam Graham sustained, the second being through a recall option through parent club at the time Sheffield United, due to a lack of game time. Despite two disappointing spells at the club, there is no animosity between fanbase and player and therefore I’d expect the defender to receive a warm reception from the travelling Notts faithful this weekend. Rounding off for the hosts, their squad is also not lacking quality. The majority of their squad have experienced playing above the current level the club find themselves at. As this is the case, a close encounter for the Emirates FA Cup first round is expected at the Crown Oil Arena this Sunday.
So, what can you expect from this fixture?
As previously mentioned, this tie is bound to be close. Both sides have discovered impressive form in their respective divisions, and both have masses of creativity within them. The Magpies are expected to be backed by eight hundred of their faithful making the journey up to Greater Manchester, this is bound to be a catalyst for a good performance. Winning last weekend away to Grimsby Town would have injected more confidence and belief into Notts County, the same kind of belief that is needed to go and win against a side in the league above the one they are currently competing in. On the other hand, Rochdale AFC are deservedly ahead of the Magpies in the Football League pyramid and therefore will be considered as the favourites for many to enter the Emirates FA Cup second round. However, those who have watched the Magpies thus far this season will understand why it is impossible to rule them out of entering the hat for the second-round draw.
In another game which is a very difficult call when it comes to predicting the outcome, I can see another late winner transpiring from Ian Burchnall’s side. I believe Ruben Rodrigues will pop up once more for his side, scoring in injury time once again to send Notts County through. My prediction is Rochdale AFC 0-1 Notts County.
- Rochdale: LDDWW
- Notts County: LWWDW
- Rochdale: Coleman, Dorsett, O’Connell, Graham, Keohane, Morley, Kelly, O’Keefe, Odoh, Beesley, Newby.
- Notts County: Patterson, Taylor, Cameron, Rawlinson, Brindley, Kelly-Evans, Palmer, O’Brien, Vincent, Rodrigues, Wootton.
Venue & time:
- Spotland, 3pm Sunday 7th November 2021.
*Article provided by K-Ci Rennicks (Notts County Correspondent).
*Main image @officiallydale the Crown Oil Arena awaits welcoming Notts for an FA Cup tie.