Notts County have the chance to equal a club record for the longest unbeaten run when they welcome FC Halifax Town to Meadow Lane on Saturday.
The Magpies have gone 18 league games without defeat since their one and only league loss of the season at Dorking Wanderers in September and now have the opportunity to equal the club record for the longest unbeaten league run, a record which stretches all the way back to 1930.
Standing in their way of levelling that record is a Halifax Town side who sit sixteenth in the National League and have won just two of their last seven league games.
The Shaymen will be looking to avoid Notts doing the double over them, after The Magpies cruised to a 4-1 victory in the reverse fixture in August.
After carrying a few knocks in the build-up to last week’s potential clash with Chesterfield, the full week’s break will have done The Magpies some good. The only injury concern of note is Tobi Adebayo-Rowling, with Luke Williams suggesting in his press conference on Thursday that Saturday’s game will come too soon for the right wing back, who is still building his fitness levels back up after spending a few weeks on the side-lines. New signing Jodi Jones is available for selection but will likely not be ready to start immediately after limited gametime with Oxford United so far this season.
Williams will almost certainly stick with the same 5-2-2-1 formation that has served Notts so well this season, especially in a home game where they’ll be looking to pin the opposition back as is so often the case. The backline will most likely stay the same as the one which drew 1-1 with Boreham Wood in The Magpies’ last league outing, with neither Geraldo Bajrami nor Connell Rawlinson getting many minutes of late. Williams’ main selection debate will likely be who he chooses to partner Matty Palmer in the centre of midfield. He may opt for continuity in the form of John Bostock, who started alongside Palmer in the draw with Boreham Wood. He could however, go for the energy of Jim O’Brien and may value his runs from deep when trying to stretch an opponent who will likely sit fairly deep.
Despite his strike partner’s prolific goalscoring form so far this season, Notts’ in-form man at the minute is undoubtedly Cedwyn Scott. The 25-year-old Geordie has four goals in his last four league games, a run of form which has taken his tally to 13 since his move from Gateshead in the summer. Averaging a goal every 109 minutes in the league, Scott’s minutes per goal is second only to his good friend Langstaff. The striker scored his first goal in a Notts shirt in the reverse fixture and his certainly found his feet at Meadow Lane now.
A disappointing loss at home to bottom-of-the-league Scunthorpe United on Tuesday night extended the Halifax’s winless run to four games, with their last victory coming in the FA Trophy against Guiseley on 20th December. Chris Millington’s side have picked up just nine points from a possible 39 on the road this season and have tasted victory away from The Shay on just two occasions, at Scunthorpe in August and Solihull in November.
Millington has several key injuries to contend with at the minute. Influential midfielder Matty Warburton will miss the game through a calf injury that a scan last week showed would keep him out for around a month. Fellow midfielder Kian Spence is also unlikely to feature, having missed each of their last three games through injury, while Luke Summerfield has missed the last three with a serious illness. Former Stockport County centre half Jamie Stott will also be unavailable for Saturday’s clash at Meadow Lane.
It’s clear where the problems lie for the struggling Shaymen. Millington’s side have a real lack of goals, highlighted by the fact their tally of 24 is currently better only than Yeovil’s total of 21. Former Grimsby Town striker Emmanuel Dieseruvwe is their top scorer with seven in the league, but he is the only member of the squad to have scored five goals or more all season, by contrast Notts have four men with seven or more to their name.
They are, however, a side which always has the potential to threaten. While the absence of key midfield technicians Warburton and Spence will hurt them greatly, Dieseruvwe is a very big mobile target man who has decent goalscoring instincts in the box. They can also call on the unpredictability of Jordan Slew, although his current goal tally of two is a far cry from the ten league goals the forward notched last season. Full backs Tylor Golden and Jack Senior will look to be positive and break forward whenever possible and must be contained if Notts are to come away with a win.
The reality here though is that, if Notts are to continue to push Wrexham right until the final day, this is one of those games that simply must be won.
*Article provided by Evan Shaw (Notts County Correspondent).
*Main image @Official_NCFC Head Coach Luke Williams with new signing Jodi Jones training this week.