Notts County welcome Northampton Town to Meadow Lane this weeke
After winning 3-0 at Stevenage last week, their biggest victory of the season, the Magpies will look to follow it up with a win in front of their own fans when the Cobblers visit.
They’ve struggled on home soil recently, though, not scoring at Meadow Lane in March and failing to win at home since the Nottinghamshire Derby in mid-February.
With six games remaining this season, the Magpies will be hoping they have turned a corner with their big victory last week and could climb out of the bottom two with a win.
Meanwhile, Northampton have recovered from their slow start to the campaign to occupy a comfortable spot in mid-table, with an outside chance of the play-offs.
The stars would have to align for them to finish in the top seven come 4 May, but nine points off with 18 to play for gives them some hope.
They suffered a setback in their last game, though, losing 2-1 at home to Port Vale despite taking the lead inside five minutes and playing with an extra man for most of the contest.
Both sides will be chasing the points to help achieve their respective aims and there’s an added ingredient as Northampton boss Keith Curle returns to Meadow Lane after managing Notts between 2012 and 2013.
“We’ve had to fight and scrap just to get ourselves into contention and the boys have left everything on the pitch over the last few weeks.
“Our sole purpose is getting the club where it needs to be by 4 May and we have to keep our minds on our aim and ride with the ups and downs because there will be twists.
“The key is not to play ineffective football. We’ve avoided doing that both offensively and defensively in recently weeks.
“Northampton are a team with a lot of height who are strong on set pieces and we can take confidence from overcoming a big, powerful Stevenage side last week.”
Keith Curle says…
“We didn’t work hard enough last week and if you don’t do that you won’t get your rewards.
“There are fundamentals that you need to do in order to nullify the opposition and we need to do the horrible side of the game on Saturday.
“Everything this week has been geared towards our visit to Notts and the players will be up for it.
“We have made it clear what is expected individually and collectively and I want them to play with freedom.”
Ardley has no fresh injury concerns following last week’s victory and has an almost fully-fit squad to choose from.
Long-term absentee Elliott Hewitt will continue to miss out, however, after seeing a specialist for his knee issue, but it looks as though he will be able to avoid surgery.
Curle has welcomed Junior Morais back to training this week and he is in contention for Saturday’s game, while Jordan Turnbull has responded well after receiving injections for an ankle injury.
On-loan defender George Cox has returned to Northampton after undergoing rehabilitation work at parent club Brighton, but the weekend’s clash is likely to come too soon.
We’ve met before
Northampton were victorious on their last visit to Meadow Lane with Rod McDonald and Brendan Moloney on target either side of Jon Stead’s strike for Notts in November 2015.
The Magpies had won the two previous meetings of the sides, which came in the 2009-10 campaign, while this season’s reverse fixture ended goalless at the PTS Academy Stadium.
Elsewhere in League Two
Notts could haul themselves out of the dropzone for the first time in 2019 on Saturday, but that is dependent on how fellow relegation candidates Yeovil and Macclesfield get on.
The Magpies and the Glovers are level on 36 points, with the Silkmen bottom of the table on 35, and any combination of the three could populate the bottom two come 5pm on Saturday.
Yeovil have lost five in a row and have scored just once in that period so will hope for a change of fortunes as they travel to Swindon. The Robins are four points off the play-offs with a game in hand so they are sure to prove difficult opposition.
Macclesfield, meanwhile, play host to Morecambe who all but secured their safety with victory last week. The Silkmen are three matches unbeaten and earned a valuable point against league leaders Lincoln last time out.
Crawley, beaten by the Shrimps last week, have lost three in a row and could be starting to look over their shoulders as they are just seven points clear of the dropzone. They will look to stop the rot when Forest Green visit.
There’s a big clash at the top of the table as first-placed Lincoln make the trip to second-placed MK Dons, while Bury are in danger of losing their automatic promotion spot if they suffer defeat at Carlisle – that would be their third straight reverse.
The afternoon’s officials
Referee: Ben Toner
Assistants: Natalie Aspinall and Stephen Wade
Fourth official: Robert Atkin