After their worst start ever to a season, Notts County fans go into Saturday’s game at home to Stevenage at least with the slight optimism that it can’t get any worse.
The Magpies are on an eight-game losing streak in all competitions, conceding an average of three goals per game, and have only scored once at Meadow Lane all season, so if Notts can get any kind of result on Saturday, it will be deemed a good one.
Manager Harry Kewell won’t have to watch from the stands, he has just heard he will only suffer a fine following his red card away at Exeter last Saturday.
Notts will also be hoping that some of the players who have missed out over the past few games with injuries will have recovered.
Club captain Richard Duffy and right-back Matt Tootle have both been missing since the end of August, since they got injured at Lincoln in Kevin Nolan’s last game in charge, and both would likely be straight back into the first team should they be deemed fit to play.
Notts will also be hoping on the fitness of Andy Kellett, to play at left-back, with regular left back Dan Jones only one game through his three-match ban for a red card.
So, with it possible that up to three of the regular back four will be out, Notts fans will be hoping that Harry Kewell’s first full week on the training ground, with no midweek distractions, will help to sort out and organise the defence to the point that Notts stop the run of conceding three or more goals every match.
But this won’t be easy; Stevenage have assembled a very good squad with a good mix of youth and experience. Full-back Luther Wildin came through the Notts academy before being prematurely released in 2017, and winger Jamal Campbell-Ryce also is a familiar name to Notts fans after he put in some fantastic performances for the Magpies between 2012 and 2014.
Their loss of last season’s top scorer Matt Godden to League One Peterborough was undoubtedly a huge one, but they have strengthened well; with Alex Revell, Michael Timlin and Scott Cuthbert all very good players at this level.
Notts have only lost one of their last seven against Stevenage, a 3-0 defeat at Broadhall Way in 2017, so do have a bit of form on their side. Harry Kewell has also already faced Stevenage this season when in charge of Crawley in the second week of the season – Stevenage won 3-1 in what so far has been their only away win this campaign.
Notts’ terrible form will come to an end at some point, the question is just when. Stevenage do have a strong squad and will be likely be near the top seven come the end of the season, they could go into the top three with a win on Saturday, but with Harry Kewell getting a full week with his new squad for the first time, Notts fans are hopeful that their bad run of form will finally turn around on Saturday.
The problem is for Notts to win a game they’ll likely need to score three or four. The defence needs sorting soon but Notts need points on the board even sooner, so as long they score one more than they concede, regardless of whether that means having to win 3-2 or 4-3, we’ll take it.
Picture Credit: Notts County