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Samwatto2008: Why have Notts County slumped in recent weeks, how can it be fixed and which players can we rely on?

So after what seemed like a good Christmas period, it seems that Notts County have gone into switch off mode ever since.

We set off the year with a positive result against Port Vale winning 1-0 at home. We then went on to proceed to the 4th round of the FA Cup against Swansea City after a sublime strike from Jon Stead against Brentford put us into the pot for the next round.

With morale seeming to be at an all time high at Meadow Lane and coming into the new year with bags of confidence, it didn’t seem like anything could stop Notts.

So where did it start to go wrong?

Well, we ended our unbeaten home record against Exeter City who quite frankly couldn’t buy an away win at the time of beating us. That put a real gloom over Meadow Lane and I think it hit the players hard that we are still beatable at home and we should not let standards drop.

However that message clearly didn’t get through.

Outrageous behaviour from Ross Fitzsimons 3 days later, to put it straight, cost us two points. Crawley were a good side in form and having a point from that match looked like a good result.

So after 2 consecutive defeats at Meadow Lane and sickness from Matt Tootle I think the players and manager were knocked down a few pegs.

We then won 4-1 in front of a record home crowd against Crewe Alexandra, which was such a positive performance I think everyone left that game with a smile on their faces.

Then... an embarrassing display of football saw us lose 8-1 to Swansea and then lose to Barnet who are bottom of the league 1-0. This was the confirmation fans needed to know that County were officially in a slump.

Although Tuesday brought about a 2-1 win over Carlisle United, the performance nonetheless left question marks and doubts remain going forward.

How do we fix it?

So our next 3 fixtures are as follows:

Newport County vs Notts County

Cambridge United vs Notts County

Notts County vs Stevenage

So out of these next three games, if we are still serious about promotion we need to be looking at 6 points out of a possible 9.

In my opinion we should be looking at wins across the board, excluding Newport which look a real unit at the moment, especially at home.

Cambridge are currently without a manager and by the time we play them I think it will still take time for their players and manager to gel.

As for Stevenage, well they are a bang average mid-table team. We need to pick up points now, as we enter a vital period for a promotion push.

Who can we rely on?

This is bound to spark a debate in the comments but this is my personal opinion of who I think is going to be crucial in the run up the end of the season.

Mason Bennett – I know he got injured at Barnet but I would hope we could see him back fit for the start of March even for the Stevenage game if we’re lucky. His pace is frightening for League Two defenders top cope with and I think him and Jorge Grant could be a real threat and kill off games early which is what we need to do.

Matt Tootle – He can defend and attack and can always mark a striker with pace. He puts in 100% effort and can really change a game and flip it on its head. His quality in defence in attack can help link up play in areas we could maybe use to our advantage.

Noor Husin – Well this lad is superb, his passing ability is amazing in my opinion and his work rate is fantastic. I think Husin, Grant and Bennett could really work well together and for a young prospect he has some real talent and could possibly go on to be a class midfielder. His cutting edge passes and long shots could be something Nolan looks to take advantage of.

After being away from the site for a while due to work I am keen to get back in touch with PON members and create more content to get a response from fans and see what they think. The question I want to ask you PON members is, Who do you think can turn this slump around? Let me know in the comments below and I hope to be writing another piece soon.

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Edited by Joe Jones

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Great article, agree with all choices but would like to add Fitzsimons as feel he gives those in front more confidence than Collin and apart from silly mistake hadn’t done much wrong whilst in the team. Secondly I feel Stead could be one of the major providers of the grit and determination we going to need, his desire to give 100% each game is infectious plus still wouldn’t bet against him notching 20 goals this season 

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A great read sam thanks. I think the biggest blow of the season is losing Mason Bennett; I sincerely hope your estimation of his return is proved right but I don’t feel that optimistic, I can’t see a hamstring taking less than 8 weeks which takes us to early April if we are lucky. Grant’s drop in form has got to be worrying, Shola can’t buy a goal at the minute and other than Husin’s beauty we have had Hewitt pop up with 2 (equaling his last seasons total) only leaving us the ever dependable Stead to keep our heads above water. None of us know the other striker we apparently missed out on in January but I feel the lack of goals is going to cost us dearly. 

Tuesday nights first half performance was a revaluation after Barnet but the second half was a disaster waiting to happen (fortunately it didn’t) we are much better than that and if we had a true leader on the pitch I think that would have got back to the first half standard.

I must say that Ben Hall was magnificent on his debut. I only saw him slip up once in the whole game. Husin will be a gem for us, and he’s OUR player ! Tootle is Tootle just fantastic but I see our lack of goals being our undoing. Luton have scored 72, Wycombe 63 and we have 54, if we were somewhere between those two imagine how many more points we might have.

I said before the Barnet game there were 9 points achievable in the next 3 games we have 3 from 6 so far, can we make it 6 from nine? I am not so optimistic now and as answering your question, who is going to turn the slump around; I wish I had a suggestion. To be honest unless Shola starts chipping in or the midfield can start producing I can see us stuttering along with the odd draw and occasional win. I really do hope I am proved totally wrong. Before anyone brands me a doom and gloom merchant these are just my views and how ever the season turns out I have always, and will always be Notts to the core.

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