Notts County will finally make another return to Vanarama National League action this weekend, as the Magpies welcome Eastleigh to Meadow Lane.
The word ‘finally’ is used since Dover Athletic postponed their home fixture against Notts once again on Tuesday. Supporters were convinced that the game would go ahead due to a tweet released by the club’s official account, which deemed the pitch as perfectly playable. An hour later, with supporters already travelling to Dover, the pitch had been deemed unplayable and the fixture was postponed.
The Dover Athletic chairman hit out at the Magpies, which led to a powerful statement being released by Notts County explaining the events of the day to their supporters. However, now focusing on the weekend, Ian Burchnall’s side welcome Eastleigh to Meadow Lane for the second time this season.
The first meeting at the Lane between the sides this season was in the Buildbase FA Trophy, where Notts County defeated Eastleigh 2-1 courtesy of a brace from Elisha Sam. The result led to the Magpies entering round five of the competition, where they defeated FC Halifax Town by the same scoreline to reach the quarter-final stage, where they will host Wrexham AFC.
Ian Burchnall admitted in his press conference prior to this weekend’s fixture that his side now are at a disadvantage due to the five postponements the club have faced in recent times, but the supporters should be more than alerted to the quality of the team and when the number of fixtures played level out, their side will be comfortably within the Vanarama National League play-off places and three points this weekend will most certainly help the cause. During the same press conference, the head coach also admitted that the only player absent through injury this weekend is Jim O’Brien, who is still fighting the battle to return to full match fitness.
In more positive news, Dion Kelly-Evans returned this past weekend against FC Halifax Town and performed brilliantly, putting the full-back right in contention to start this weekend. With Kairo Mitchell finding the back of the net in which was also the match-winner, the striker likewise Dion-Kelly Evans may feel slightly disheartened if not selected to start against Eastleigh on Saturday. In conclusion to this, Ian Burchnall will most certainly welcome this selection headache as the Magpies’ near future schedule is heating up with key games coming against fellow promotion chasers.
As for the visitors, Eastleigh make their return to Meadow Lane off the back of a disappointing 1-0 defeat to Weymouth. A late second half goal from Brandon Goodship turned out to be all the Terras required to see off a struggling Spitfires outfit. Since their defeat to Notts County back in the middle of January, Eastleigh have played six Vanarama National League fixtures. With a possible eighteen points to play for, the Spitfires only managed to pick up just two points which has led to a very sorry run of form for the club. Also, beyond their previous defeat to Notts County, former manager Ben Strevens was relieved of his duties. Strevens left the club after what was considered a successful run as club manager, and his dismissal may have proven he was not the problem as the club are still yet to show any improvements in their performances. Despite this, it must be said that there is good quality within the current playing squad at Eastleigh and the Magpies will have to be on top of their game to leave with three points this weekend.
This weekend’s visitors currently sit fourteenth in the Vanarama National league, where a win over the Magpies would only see them maintain that position. However, defeat this weekend could see the club drop as low as eighteenth in which would turn a bad past few weeks to an even worse period.
In conclusion to the Spitfires, it is no secret that this visit to Meadow Lane cannot be a repeat of their previous result here in Nottingham.
So, what can you expect from this fixture?
I expect a close fixture, despite the form of the visitors. Every outing I have seen of Eastleigh has always been one in which they are very physical and well set-up and drilled. But, on their last visit to Meadow Lane, the speed of their players was majorly exposed by the passing through the thirds by the Magpies and I expect that to be repeated this weekend. Everyone connected with Eastleigh Football Club would admit they would have preferred many other fixtures to this one whilst trying to escape a start to 2022. However, that is not possible, and I can see Ian Burchnall’s side turning bad to worse for the Spitfires’ faithful.
My prediction: Notts County 2-0 Eastleigh.
- Notts County: DLLWW
- Eastleigh: LLDDL
- Notts County: Jaros, Chicksen, Cameron, Brindley, Richardson, Roberts, Francis, Palmer, Rodrigues, Sam, Wootton.
- Eastleigh: McDonnell, Boyce, Broadbent, Miley, Hesketh, Hare, Hill, De Barr, Whelan, Barnett, Harper.
Venue & time:
- Meadow Lane, 3:00pm Saturday 19th February 2022.
*Article provided by K-Ci Rennicks (Notts County Correspondent).
*Main image @Official_NCFC the players trained yesterday ahead of the weekend’s match.