Since the last article in February, which talked about Notts County’s loss of form and manager, the club has managed to pull its form back together, statistically at least.
After our defeat to Stevenage, the result of lapses in concentration at the back and chronic toothlessness in front of goal, we’ve only lost one in ten, that defeat coming in a bad-tempered match against Preston North End on the 12th of March – arguably our worst league display this season – but we’ve drawn six, which isn’t really good enough for what we want to achieve.
Under caretaker manager Chris Kiwomya, the board has seen enough of him to judge him as the right man to take the club forward on a permanent basis, and on March 27th offered him a three-year contract.
Our defence has definitely improved as a whole under him, conceding just six in ten. The likes of Gary Liddle and Dean Leacock are defending brilliantly, getting no end of last-ditch tackles and clearances in. The most crucial piece of that jigsaw, however, is keeper Bartosz Bialkowski. He has been absolutely incredible for us, and has bailed us out umpteen times with some world-class saves. He is by far our best keeper since Kasper Schmeichel in the 2009-10 season and if we can hang on to him, it would be a major coup.
Up front, however, is a completely different story. Yoann Arquin and Francois Zoko tend to be alternated in the squad, but are very inconsistent and have let us down a fair few times in front of goal. Enoch Showunmi has finally come good, but he isn’t an out-and-out goalscorer, which is what we desperately need. Loan players John Cofie and Jacob Blythe are now back at Manchester United and Leicester City respectively, and haven’t made as much of an impact as we would have liked. In all honesty, losing Lee Hughes and not replacing him has cost us this season.
So then, it’s crunch time, and we have six games left. We’re in 11th place and seven points from the play-offs. While it’s not mathematically unachievable, we not only cannot slip up any further, but we really have to hope that all the teams around us drop points.
Add to that the fact that Sheffield United, in 6th, have three games in hand, Yeovil in 7th have one, and Crawley, MK Dons and Crewe, underneath Notts in 12th, 13th and 14th respectively, have two each, and you realise just how difficult it’s going to be. But the hope is always there, and until it’s mathematically impossible, then we will keep hoping and dreaming of the promised gate that is the playoff zone and, further still, the promised land that is the Championship. Let’s give it our best shot, Notts, and give the fans something to smile about in these last few games! Come On You Pies!
Written by Giuseppe Labellarte, We Are Going Up’s Notts County blogger
Giuseppe tweets at @JoeJonesHome