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Match Previews

Preview: Cheltenham (A)

8 March 2019

Notts County make the trip to Cheltenham on Saturday in Sky Bet League Two action.

After a goalless draw with fellow strugglers Port Vale to start March, the Magpies will be hoping to record a first victory of the month at the Jonny-Rocks Stadium.

Notts looked like they might climb out of the dropzone in mid-February but a three-match run without a win has left them five points from safety with 11 games to play,

Cheltenham, on the other hand, have put some distance between themselves and the rest of the relegation candidates in recent weeks and sit in 17th with 42 points.

This is largely thanks to home victories against teams around them – beating Port Vale, Cambridge, Yeovil and Macclesfield during their five-match unbeaten run in front of their own fans.

They’ve not confirmed survival yet but will feel they are close to it, while Notts will look to close the gap again with a win.

Notts boss Neal Ardley says…

“Last time these teams played each other they were both fighting at the bottom but Cheltenham have ground their way into a good place and, if they carry on how they are, they’ll get enough points to be safe.

“Michael Duff has got them solid, organised and playing to their strengths. They are good at what they do, have some talented players and are on an unbeaten run at home, so they will be favourites.

"But if we can keep the steeliness in our defending and have that bit more quality going forward, we can be a match for anyone."

Cheltenham boss Michael Duff says…

“They've changed their team a lot since we last met them, bringing in a lot of new players, and they've had some good results recently as well.

“They took seven points from games against Lincoln, Forest Green and Mansfield and they know they need to come and get a result, so we have to be aware of the wounded animal.

"They've got experienced players now so they'll have a little bit more know-how and we remember when we were in that position and recall the fight and the drive we had to get out.”

Team news

Elliott Hewitt’s knee injury is more serious than first feared and, in the coming days, he will learn if he requires surgery.

Andy Kellett and Alex Howes both picked up knocks playing for the reserves on Tuesday, while Craig Mackail-Smith has a slight achilles problem but has trained and Ardley hopes he will be fit.

Veteran striker Luke Varney scored twice for the Robins when they visited Meadow Lane in November and will hope to lead the line again after dropping to the bench in midweek.

Chelsea loanee Jacob Maddox will also have his sights set on a return to the starting line-up, as will Conor Thomas. All three were introduced during the second half of the 1-1 draw with Bury on Tuesday.

We’ve met before

Notts have been beaten by the Robins on just one of their six trips to Cheltenham – a 2-0 reverse in November 2006.

The Magpies’ six-game unbeaten run in this fixture was ended in November with Tyrone Barnett adding to Varney’s brace in the 3-0 defeat.

Elsewhere in League Two

The four sides directly above Notts all face opposition from the top seven this weekend.

Looking to record a third straight win, Yeovil kick-off the action with a trip to league leaders Lincoln on Friday night where they can move nine points clear of the dropzone.

Macclesfield, Port Vale and Morecambe all host promotion pushers on Saturday with MK Dons, Mansfield and Forest Green their respective visitors.

Cambridge are in 19th and face Paul Scholes’ Oldham at the Abbey Stadium with the Lactics on a four-match winless run.

The weekend’s officials

Referee: Thomas Bramall

Assistants: Abbas Khan and Rob Smith

Fourth official: Christopher Husband

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