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Joe Jones
Joe Jones

Joe Jones: Kevin Nolan must ensure no complacency sets in during "easy" October

Two months into the season and Notts County are flying high. Top of League Two, joint-second highest goals scored on 21, joint-third lowest goals conceded on 11 (and just over half of those came in our two "blip" games).

What makes it all the more impressive is that there have been some really tough games in August and September - very much make or break. And credit to Kevin Nolan and the players (and Alan Hardy) it's been a case of "make".

August gave us two teams relegated from League One - one a bitter local rival - and a solid team boasting the very awkward Adebayo Akinfenwa. September, meanwhile, gave us the remaining two relegated sides, the Prawn bogey team, and two more East Midlands rivals.

And despite this run, Notts got through these months in fantastic fashion.

Now, into October. On paper, this month is a lot, lot more straightforward. The first three teams (Forest Green, Barnet and Crewe) are all in the bottom six at present, before the long-haul Carlisle away day and, to finish off the month (once we get past the meaningless EFL Trophy game with Mansfield), Newport at home, a team that, to their credit, has begun the season well, but remain short of quality.

The key words here are "on paper". Fixture-wise, this month will need Nolan to really put his "no complacency" mantra into practice. And my view is that the first two months of the season, where the manager has seen players out of the starting XI or even the squad for dropping standards, will have served as good preparation for the next four weeks.

Maybe the defeat at Field Mill could also prove to be a blessing in disguise. The whole of September was outstanding and, in a way, us fans got a little "used" to winning. Maybe the players ended up taking the foot off the pedal in terms of mentality and, lo and behold, the Stags had our pants down. A rude awakening, but one that will jolt the team back into the right frame of mind.

Already there's talk on the forum of FGR being a team that we "are going to slaughter". Based on form, league standing and player quality, it would seem the case, but already we have lost half the battle by thinking this way. Remember, Mark Cooper is an ex-Notts manager and historically they have got their own back on their former employers.

Arguably the biggest sub-plot of the weekend's game, that of Liam Noble returning to his old stomping ground, seems to have been put on ice given that FGR have ruled him out sans return date due to medical issues, but if he does end up playing, there's that age-old "former player returns to haunt his former club" which fate almost always springs up (hell, we saw it ourselves when Terry Hawkridge bagged his first for Notts against, who else, Lincoln).

So in a nutshell, an easy month on paper is very much a potential pitfall, so Nolan will arguably be given an even sterner test this month - motivating a player to be 100% against a Coventry or Exeter is not as difficult as getting the same percentage against a Barnet or Newport.

Over to you boys - don't get complacent, or the amazing start we've had so far in 2017/18 will end up being an irrelevant memory like all the great starts we've had in recent years.

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