It’s the battle of the County’s on Tuesday, as Notts play hosts to 19th placed Newport. The Magpies will be hoping to have different results to what happened in the 18/19 season, when we last played them, with the Ironsides doing the double, winning 4-1 at Meadow Lane, and 3-2 at home.
Notts come into this game off the back of a very good win – 2-1 away at Gillingham. This was very important for Notts to get this win, given their previous game where they had lost 4-1 at home to local rivals Mansfield – this game showed the rest of the league that they can bounce back from bad results, and they now have the confidence to push on. On the other hand, Newport played out a six-goal thriller in their previous game, drawing 3-3 with Walsall at Rodney Parade. The home side took the lead early thanks to a rocket from midfielder Bryn Morris, however, Walsall reduced the deficit just 12 minutes later, thanks to a close-ranged shot from Freddie Draper, which wasn’t saved well by the Newport keeper and should have been dealt with. Newport went into the break with the score 2-1, as winger Will Evans rifled it in from outside the area.
Shortly after half-time, Walsall got one back, with Draper scoring his second of the afternoon after getting on the end of a low-long ball, slicing it past one player and onto his left foot, coolly slotting it home. The game continued its pattern, with Newport going into the lead in the 67th minute thanks to Morris, who got the second brace of the afternoon. A cross came in from the right hand-side, and missed everybody, finding its way to the midfielder at the back-post. Ironside fans would have been thinking that they’d actually kept their lead and were looking like they were going to get three points, that was until Draper completed his hattrick in injury time, prodding home from inside the six-yard-box. Points were shared, and Newport would have been disappointed to fail to hold onto their lead three times in the game. Notts fans will be happy with the way Newport conceded, and will be hoping to replicate it on Tuesday. Walsall’s poacher got all of the goals, and they were from inside the box, and similar contexts to what Magpies striker Macaulay Langstaff finds himself in, so he will be ‘licking his lips’ at the opportunity to do what Freddie Draper did.
Even though they find themselves low down the table, Newport possess one of the best individuals in the league, the top goal scorer as a matter of fact. Will Evans, the Welsh forward, has been on fire this season, scoring ten goals in the league, and 12 in all competitions. He has played in every position across the front three this season, and has excelled in each of them; his versatility could pose a problem for us, if he decides to switch flanks or go down the middle and attack a weakness that may arise in the game. Furthermore, with our high line, and willingness to have our wide centre-backs and wing-backs pushing forwards, he will have the opportunities and spaces in those wide areas and exploit us from those positions, so we will need to be careful in who goes forward and ensure that someone is always watching him.
Notts will be without key players Kyle Cameron and David McGoldrick for this fixture, after receiving their fifth yellow cards of the season against Gillingham recently. This means that Luke Williams will be forced into two more changes for his squad, and with defender Richard Brindley coming off injured early in the first half, we may see a very makeshift squad to face the Welsh side, and testing our small squad depth will all the unavailable players we have. After impressing in his first EFL game, and scoring an absolute rocket to give Notts the three points, young loanee defender Lewis Macari could be in line to make his first start for the club. He played brilliantly defensively after coming on for Brindley, winning all his tackles and aerial duels, and contributed well with the ball at his feet too, claiming a 90% pass accuracy. With two of our key defenders out, he will surely be given his chance from the start midweek. Rawlinson will also, most likely, be given a start against Newport, after being left on the bench against Gillingham, and with no other available defenders, we may see another loanee get minutes in the league – Ollie Tipton, most likely from the bench, however.
It is highly likely that star Dan Crowley will be returning to the front three for this game, after only making a substitute appearance against Newport, and with veteran striker McGoldrick being suspended, as aforementioned, there is a space in that front three for someone else. Three candidates will be hoping to fill in that role – Junior Morias would be the direct replacement, as Luke Williams likes to have a second striker behind Langstaff, but Sam Austin may go into the front three to have two natural playmakers behind him, or, Aaron Nemane and Tobi Adebayo-Rowling may keep their partnership from the weekend, with Nemane being the more attacking out of the two. All three will add a different dimension to the attack and can be a danger for the opposition.