After their first clean sheet since opening day, Notts County managed to fight for a 0-0 draw away at Northampton Town to get their first away point of the season and stretch their unbeaten run to two.
What’s more is that Notts have now moved off the foot of the League Two table, for the first time since the middle of August, at the expense of Macclesfield Town, and they’ll be hoping that it’s a long time before they return to that position.
A 0-0 draw away at Northampton may not sound like the most inspiring result, but there are a whole heap of positives for Notts to take out the game.
The Magpies got their first point away from home since the middle of April, stopped the rot of conceding an average of three goals per game by keeping their first clean sheet since the first day of the season, kept their unbeaten run going and climbed off the bottom of the league.
So with Notts realistically seeming to have turned a corner both on and off the pitch, where should they be capable of climbing the table to? Are there any other teams in recent years who have had a very slow start in League Two but have managed to break into the top seven by the end of the season?
In 2016/17, Exeter City found themselves 23rd in the league table, the same place that Notts are in now, at this point of the season. They were a few points better off than Notts now, in what was a tighter table at this stage, but Exeter soon got a run going and ended up finishing 5th, losing to Blackpool in the play-off final.
Before that we have to go all the way back to 2009/10. Morecambe, favourites for relegation before the season began, were just two points clear of the bottom two at this stage of the season. They somewhat managed to defy the odds, to impressively climb the table and finish fourth, but an 8-1 aggregate defeat to Dagenham and Redbridge meant that they couldn’t make it past the play-off semi-finals.
It’ll make for grim reading for Notts fans that these are the only two occasions since the division rebranded to ‘League Two’ in 2004 that a team has managed to finish in the top seven having been very close to the bottom after nine or ten games; and in both of these occasions, both Exeter and Morecambe had more points than Notts do now.
Notts are 19 points behind league leaders Lincoln, a far too assailable lead to even consider being able to catch, but there’s no reason why Notts can’t climb the table towards the play-off positions over the coming weeks, it’s been done before by other teams and Notts have a stronger squad than those for sure.
The next three games for the Magpies are all games that they would consider as being very winnable: Crewe at home, Crawley at home and Macclesfield away. If Notts can get all nine points from these three matches then the table will be looking a lot healthier, and the doom and gloom from the start of the season will be a distant memory.
Picture Credit: Notts County