Just over a month since Notts County’s last televised fixture, Sky Sports returns to Meadow Lane, as the Magpies face off against Bradford City. Notts will be hoping for a very different result from their last game on TV, which saw local rivals Mansfield Town batter them 4-1 in humiliating manner. The last time these two sides faced was in League One, when a Mike Edwards equaliser gave Notts County a 1-1 draw at home, after future star striker Jon Stead took the side - managed by current Wrexham manager, Phil Parkinson – into the lead just before the break.
Bradford City have recently brought in a new manager – Graham Alexander. The former Scottish international joins the Bantams after being sacked by fellow League Two side MK Dons not too long ago, lasting just 16 games after being appointed in May 2023, amassing six wins, four draws and six losses in 142 days of management, and he replaces Mark Hughes who was sacked as Bradford coach at the start of October. Alexander has already managed his first game for the club – a 2-1 loss against Barrow at home, and it couldn’t’ have been a worse start for them, conceding within 30 seconds thanks to Dom Telford. The Bantams did get one back though through Tyler Smith striking from close range, but that wasn’t enough as centre-half George Ray got the winner in the 77th minute.
Despite the team being placed 18th in the league, they do have a dangerous player that could pose a threat for the Magpies in the form of Andy Cook. The 33-year-old striker has six goals and two assists this season, but a stat that stands out the most is the number of shots he has took – 52, more than 96% of the strikers in the league, showing that he is getting into the positions to shoot and threatening the opposition’s defence. Last season’s top goal scorer in League Two, with 28 goals, has also created 18 chances, carrying on his great playmaking for Bradford from last season, when he amassed eight assists as a striker. Furthermore, he has won 125 duels and 102 aerial duels, proving to be a good all-round striker, who can cause a lot of different problems for Notts.
The home side will be without star player Jodi Jones again through international duty, as he is set to play against England at Wembley the night before, so Notts will need someone to fill that void on the left-hand side. Adam Chicksen has recently returned to training, and from an outside view looks like he could be back to full fitness, but, having not featured in the last seven games because of his injury, and only playing six minutes of football in the three matches that he was in contention for before he was sidelined, it is unlikely that the Zimbabwean will start the game on the wing, but he may make an appearance on the bench if he is ready for that.
Another player who has been playing on that left side in Jones’ absences is Sam Austin, but, with our lack of central midfield options, he may needed from the start again in the middle while Dan Gosling slowly gains his match sharpness, or, if Gosling is ready for a start, Austin may be needed on the bench for a fresh backup if our two aging midfielders need to come off. After featuring in the last three home games, as well as a start in the Bristol Street Motor’s Trophy, Will Randall would be the obvious choice for that role. Since joining from Sutton United in the summer, Randall has only played 153 minutes of football for the Magpies, as injuries have halted the winger from showing his worth at the club, but he has been playing in recent weeks, and could be a big contender to fill the Jodi Jones shaped-hole on that left wing role, and show fans what impact he can have from the start, so, with that being said, I believe that Will Randall will have a big impact on Saturday.
For more Bradford discussion check out this weeks episode of NCS Shorts!