With three to play, it’s advantage Notts.
John Mousinho’s second half strike for Borough ensures Carlisle are still without a win for the month of April whilst moving his own side up to seventh place.
Notts in sixth place will look back at last weekend’s 0-0 draw at Brentford with a greater sense of accomplishment. It felt like a great point at the time (celebrated almost like a win)- but it now becomes the point that solidifies our place in the top six.
The game was a largely uneventful one as both sides in form more or less cancelled eachother out. For Notts, Jeff Hughes and Alan Sheehan were denied from distance by crossbar and goalkeeper respectively – whilst Brentford’s best chance came in the dying frames when Damion Stewart was on the line to nod clear a free-kick.
That’s not to say that afternoon didn’t come without it’s own concerns.
Both Julian Kelly and the goal-hungry Sam Lloyd both went off injured in the opening minutes of the second half. Should Kelly be ruled out, Kieron Freeman is more than up to the task of replacing him. Did Freeman even deserved to be dropped? I’d argue no – but it’s difficult to argue against many of the decisions Keith Curle has made since coming in.
Sam would be a different matter however. Judging by him watching the rest of the game from the bench however, it’s safe to assume his subbing was more a precautionary matter.
Whilst there are three games left and County are finally able to say their fortunes are in their own hands – in truth the hunter just became the hunted. It’s a different kind of pressure from doing the chasing to being chased but this is where Curle wanted Notts, so will complacency really be an issue now the hard work is out of the way?
With momentum firmly in County’s favour, they’ve now got the chance to strike an early psychological blow on Saturday when the game against Bury kicks off at 12.30 at Meadow Lane.
The other three sides all kick off at 3pm – by then Notts’ lead could be up to four points.
THE RUN-IN – 17 DAYS REMAIN
The time has come to stop looking over our shoulder and worrying about games in hand. Win three games and we’re in the playoffs – win the next six and Notts County are a Championship club.
It’s all so easy isn’t it?
Fact remains though that on paper, Notts still have the easier run in. Two games at home, and one away fixture – at Wycombe who’ve held both Carlisle and Charlton to draws at Adam’s Park in the last few weeks. If you’re looking for a banana skin it’s likely to be there: Bury h, Wycombe a, Colchester h.
Two wins from two push Stevenage up from ninth last week right up to seventh – an indication of how quickly fortunes can change in the run-in. Let’s hope KC is more than aware of that. Brentford on Saturday before Sheffield United away – tricky to say the least. They’ll end their League One campaign with Notts’ Saturday opponents, Bury: Brentford h, Sheffield United a, Bury h.
Struggling Carlisle are still well in the mix though, but it’s more a question now of whether they have the resolve to put one last run of form together. Sadly, Hillsborough is perhaps the last place you’d want to start: Sheffield Wednesday a, Exeter h, Oldham a
Would it be too much to hope for a draw on Saturday as Brentford travel to Stevenage? Three points behind Notts but with a slightly superior goal difference – they’re still in with a shout of the playoffs: Stevenage a, Sheffield Wednesday h, Chesterfield a
The Football League also confirmed the Playoff Semi-Final dates this week. Worth throwing them in i suppose? Worth noting that whoever out of Notts, Borough, Carlisle or Brentford gets through – they’ll not only be facing the highest place side, but they’ll also be travelling away in the second leg. A big ask.
Should we make it, Notts’ record against any of the three sides in the playoff places will be played six, lost four, drawn two…won none. Wouldn’t be a bad time to turn fortunes around would it?
6th v 3rd – Friday, 11th May, KO 7.45pm
5th v 4th – Saturday, 12th May, KO 12.30pm
3rd v 6th – Monday, 14th May, KO 7.45pm
4th v 5th – Tuesday, 15th May, KO 7.45pm