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.
“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.”
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