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27 April 2019 Venue Meadow Lane Attendance

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English Football League - League Two

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Match Previews

Preview: Grimsby (H)

26 April 2019

Notts County host Grimsby Town on Saturday in their penultimate fixture of 2018-19.

It’s a hugely important day for the Magpies, who need to record their first win at Meadow Lane since February to guarantee they take their battle for survival to the final day of the season.

Notts picked up one point over the Easter weekend from fixtures against MK Dons at home and Crawley away, battling with a man disadvantage to earn a 1-1 draw in the latter.

They remain bottom of the table and two points from safety but will hope the spirited display on Easter Monday spurs them on to victory on Saturday.

Grimsby, meanwhile, ended a 10-match winless run by beating Carlisle 1-0 on their last outing – their fourth success of 2019.

The Mariners occupy 17th position in the Sky Bet League Two table and have already bettered their points return from 2017-18.

They’ll be hoping to end the season in form and improve on their final placing of 18th last time out.

Ardley says…

“I want the boys looking forward to the challenge and excited by the fact we can take it to the last game of the season – not fearing the reaction or response if that doesn’t happen.

“The mentality and the feeling among the group is the most important thing now. This is the time we need to come together as a group more than ever.

“Grimsby have had a difficult run recently and will be on a high from their win the other day and they’ve got a few injuries, so we don’t know exactly what to expect from them.

“If we don’t play well as a team we probably won’t win, though. We have to focus on that to give ourselves the best possible chance."

Grimsby boss Michael Jolley says…

“I wouldn’t want to speak for Notts but all I know is last year, when we were in that situation, we knew we had to win.

“That brings a real clarity to your thinking because no other outcomes are possible for you and sometimes that can actually be a benefit because it reduces the options you’ve got.

“They’re the oldest Football League club out there, so I know what’s at stake.

“We want to win the game and we’ll be doing the best we can for Grimsby Town.”

Team news

Notts will be without Ben Barclay for the rest of the season following his dismissal on Easter Monday, while Elliott Ward is not expected to be available, leaving Ardley with limited options at centre back in the continued absence of Richard Duffy.

Sam Stubbs, however, has trained after battling against a groin problem at Crawley, as has striker Kane Hemmings, who missed the trip to Sussex.

Kristian Dennis wouldn’t have been able to play for Grimsby due to the terms of his loan agreement but he will be out for the rest of the season after picking up a hip injury on Monday.

Harry Cardwell (ankle) and Danny Collins (suspension) will also miss out at the weekend but Jordan Cook could return for the Mariners.

We’ve met before

This will be the third clash of the season between the sides after meeting in the Checkatrade Trophy in September ahead of December’s league fixture.

Grimsby won on both occasions, and they were also victorious when Notts visited Blundell Park on 28 April 2018, securing their League Two status in the process.

The Magpies' last win against the Mariners came in 2010 when Lee Hughes got the only goal of the game.

Elsewhere in League Two

Notts’ two rivals in the battle to avoid the drop are both tasked with away matches at the weekend.

Macclesfield are in the driving seat – two points clear of the dropzone – and make the short trip to Port Vale knowing a win could secure their EFL status.

That would be the case if both Notts and Yeovil fail to earn a victory on Saturday, with the Glovers travelling to Northampton hoping for a timely end to their nine-match winless run.

In the automatic promotion race, just five points separate sixth-placed Tranmere and second-placed Bury who meet at Prenton Park.

Mansfield and MK Dons are level on points in third and fourth and face Stevenage and Colchester respectively, while fifth-placed Forest Green visit Crewe, who have won three in a row.

Exeter currently occupy the only play-off place still up for grabs and host Oldham, who have their sights set on seventh themselves – the Latics are four points behind but have a game in hand.

The weekend’s officials

Referee: Andy Haines

Assistants: Anthony Moore and Lisa Rashid

Fourth official: Paul Hobday

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Match Reports

Notts 2-1 Grimsby

27 April 2019

Notts County kept their hopes of securing League Two safety alive with a dominant 2-1 win over Grimsby Town at Meadow Lane.

Craig Mackail-Smith cut the tension with a poacher's finish before an own goal made the points safe, with Alex Whitmore's late effort for the Mariners nothing more than a consolation. 

Results elsewhere saw Yeovil relegated, while Macclesfield's victory at Port Vale means Notts must win at Swindon on the final day of the season to stand a chance of completing their escape.

Neal Ardley made two changes to the team that battled to a hard-earned point at Crawley on Easter Monday.

Top scorer Kane Hemmings, who missed the trip to Sussex with a knee problem, replaced the bench-bound Jon Stead, while Shaun Brisley was given his first start since the New Year's Day trip to Oldham in the absence of the suspended Ben Barclay.

Brisley lined up alongside Pierce Bird and Sam Stubbs in central defence, with Matt Tootle and Rob Milsom playing as wing-backs.

And the Magpies were called into some early defensive action when Ryan Schofield had to get down low to his left to push Luke Hendrie's shot wide. Harry Clifton met the subsequent corner with a glancing header but it wasn't enough to trouble Schofield, who made a comfortable save.

Schofield's opposite number, James McKeown, was the next keeper in action as he got down brilliantly to tip O'Brien's low effort behind. Bird nodded the subsequent corner into the side-netting from a narrow angle.

It was proving to be a busy period for McKeown, who had his heart in his mouth when Mackail-Smith charged down his clearance high up the pitch. The ball looped into the air and out of the forward's sight, presenting Reece Hall-Johnson with the opportunity to boot the ball to safety with the Grimsby goal unguarded.

The wind was in Notts' favour in the first half and the visitors were struggling to impose themselves in an attacking sense.

And the final shot of note before the interval went to Tootle, who fired over with a 30-yard free-kick before the sides retreated to the dressing rooms.

There were no changes at the break and the second half began with a booking for Stubbs, who had pulled back Ahkeem Rose.

But Notts soon reasserted their dominance and they had the goal their performance deserved on 51 minutes when Mitch Rose, playing against his former club, whipped in a dangerous cross which took a nick on its way to the back stick, where Mackail-Smith was waiting to bundle the ball home from close range.

Rose's next action saw him go into the book for an over-exuberent lunge on one of his former team-mates.

But the midfielder was celebrating again on 67 minutes when Harry Clifton could only divert Michael Doyle's excellent free-kick into the bottom corner past the helpless McKeown.

Joe Grayson gave Schofield a rare test with a free-kick which the keeper beat away low down at his near post with 15 minutes to play.

Hemmings and Mackail-Smith made way for Virgil Gomis and Stead as the clock continued to tick down towards full-time.

And Gomis had an opportunity to make an immediate impact when the ball dropped for him the area before he saw his shot blocked by a Town defender.

A couple of nervy moments followed as substitute Max Wright cut in from the right and drew an acrobatic save from Schofield shortly before Grayson fired a free-kick over the bar.

Gomis then had another chance to put the game to bed when he barged his way through the centre of the pitch and into the area only for a Mariners man to get in the way of his shot once again.

Six minutes were added on at the end of the match and, in the last of those, Whitmore turned a deep free-kick home.

But it was too little too late for Grimsby and Notts' fight for survival continues until the final day. 

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