Here we are, back again ahead of another matchday. Now, this one needs very little introduction. Local derby, packed-out Meadow Lane Stadium, what is there not to look forward to? Notts County v Chesterfield, where the stakes already feel so high despite being so early on into the new season.
But before all and as always, lets recap, shall we?
As everyone knows, we were held to just a point on our travels in the week by newly promoted Gateshead. I do have to admit, it was not our most promising display. It almost felt as if we got the humbling we needed, a wake-up call to remind ourselves we cannot turn up and expect to win. I also must admit I do not feel we were at any good value to equalise and felt Gateshead were comfortably the better of the two sides. But when praise is due, we must dish it so fair play to our boys for continuing to fight for the equaliser that we eventually found. Whilst it felt massively disappointing, we created enough to win the game but was yet another tale of failing to capitalise on the big chances. Ed Francis came close with a free-kick, Ruben Rodrigues fizzed one wide of the post and Macaulay Langstaff had two golden chances denied and ultimately you must convert a minimum of two of those to get what you feel you deserve from games. It was not meant to be for us on the night, but now the weekend has arrived and granted us an opportunity to put things right.
Now then, lets talk this weekend.
We have had some good memories in this fixture in previous seasons, haven’t we? We all remember THAT Mark Ellis header to win us the play-off quarter final at the end of the season heavily affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. How I would kill for another moment like that this weekend.
As far as team go this season in the Vanarama National League, two of arguably the top three squads face off at Meadow Lane this Saturday. If you picked through each position of the starting elevens, you would struggle to pick a weakness in either squad and that sets up another classic of a fixture between these two clubs. A fixture that always sees a gate of over 13,000 people attend a game in the fifth tier of English Football deserves recognition, explaining why kick-off has been pushed back to 17:20. Thank you BT SPORT.
What else comes with this fixture? An unbelievable atmosphere. We have seen it recently in the Nottingham Forest game at the Lane how both sets of fans strive off of a good atmosphere and I expect the same again this week. It is the good atmospheres that make these games that little bit more exciting when they begin to creep up on the calendar. We all know what to expect, but we need it a little more as our visitors picked up that impressive 2-0 win over the Hollywood owned Welsh Millionaires in the week. Obviously, that win will give them the world of confidence, why wouldn’t it? They deservedly beat a League One quality side and a win of that manner would give any team at this level a boost of belief. But we are no stranger to wins against Wrexham ourselves, and we hope to replicate the same calibre of performance we put in to beat them 3-1 last season to do the same to beat another promotion rival in the same way this season.
As for us, we have a few selection headaches ahead. It seems that the reliable Aden Baldwin is still struggling to regain match fitness and therefore is a huge doubt for the weekend. This means what is likely to be another opportunity for Geraldo Bajrami to prove his worth. I likewise many of you felt surprised that he was benched for the opening two games this campaign but after Baldwin’s injury instantly got the nod. I was very excited over the fact we would see the boy in our colours this season as he is a very good player and once again has the opportunity to prove that tomorrow evening.
Another player who has the opportunity to increase his minutes this weekend is Cedwyn Scott. Luke Williams has admitted that he is wanting to start our new forward but does not find it physically possible with him having a staggered pre-season. Scott spent two weeks missing with a new case of COVID-19 and again with more illnesses but showed signs of the fantastic player he is and was at Gateshead. I get it, I am the same as you all, I am keen to see what Scott can produce in this side alongside Langstaff and it appears we are nearing the game in which he leads our line alongside his long-term partner. As this weekend seems too near for a start for Scott, maybe it could open the door for a first league start of the season for Kairo Mitchell against his former club. Who wouldn’t love to see him net against his old employers? Regardless, it feels great to be able to speak about more than one alternative dynamic. Last season we were all critical of the squad depth, this season we cannot be due to the amount of quality we have within our starting eleven and bench. It feels like a relief to have more than just the inevitable Elisha Sam substitution, that is for sure.
Any familiar faces amongst the Spireites’ squad?
As Calvin Miller has seemingly gone missing from the first-team fold, the only player we can speak about here is Ross Fitzsimons.
Ross has some key memories in this fixture. Most memorably, being recalled from a loan spell at Chesterfield to play against them at the weekend to then go onto save a penalty kick and keep a clean sheet. What makes the story even better? The following week he was sent back out on loan to Chesterfield. Simply incredible.
But now he is a Chesterfield player again, and this time permanently. Undoubtedly, embracing the opportunity to ruin the afternoon on his return to the Lane. But will he be so lucky enough to do so? Who knows.
It was no secret that Tuesday night was not good enough by any means. But, this weekend, the team needs you. These are the kind of games we relish as supporters and games of the manner in which we simply hate the thought of losing as far as bragging rights are concerned. Lets rally behind the boys tomorrow evening and be the twelfth man they need as the catalyst to a quality performance that ensures us the three points.
As always, Come On You Pies!
*Article provided by K-Ci Rennicks (Notts County Correspondent).
*Main image @Official_NCFC Notts County will be back at the Lane hoping to make it a fortress this season.