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Pre-match build-up: Notts County's date of destiny with Coventry City


Joe Jones

So here it is folks, the biggest game of Notts County's season so far and hopefully the penultimate game of our campaign is upon us.

Coventry City come to Meadow Lane for the second leg of our League Two playoff semi-final on level terms, though it shouldn't be the case.

The Sky Blues won a completely undeserved penalty late on in the first leg at the Ricoh Arena which they converted for a 1-1 scoreline.

But as much as it's totally justified, there's no point crying over spilled milk - this is a cup final for us and we best buckle up and get on with it.

In this article, Pride of Nottingham looks at some of the pre-match quotes from both camps as well as having a look at the provisional team news.

Kevin Nolan on the game

“I’m just going to enjoy it. There’s no pressure on us. We weren’t expected to be here.

“The only pressure we’ll be feeling is what we put on ourselves because, like Coventry, now we’re here we want to get to Wembley.

“We know Coventry – we’ve played them three times now this season and every game’s been tough.

“It’s going to be difficult again on Friday night but I’m looking forward to locking horns with Mark Robins once again and hopefully getting over the line.

“The lads are in good spirits and looking forward to what will hopefully be another good encounter.”

Kevin Nolan on the potential of a Meadow Lane sellout

“It’s absolutely amazing. It just shows the hard work we’ve put in has all been worth it.

“We urge the people of Nottingham to buy the last few tickets because we’re going to need them – they can influence a lot that happens on the field and drive us to victory.

“We want them with us every step of the way because when they are with us, incredible things can happen - as I’ve seen during my tenure here.”

Dan Jones on potentially playing in the final at Wembley

“Playing at Wembley would be a dream for me personally. It’s an incentive you can’t even put into words.

“You’ve got to enjoy these games - everything that surrounds them and what’s at stake.

“It’s about rising to it, doing as well as you can and making Nottingham proud.”

Dan Jones on the first leg

“Lots of things from many individuals were brilliant. Forte’s flick for the goal was amazing – it was a good bit of instinctive play.

“Bris and Duffs won a lot of great headers, both wingers and the centre mids put in a lot of work and the work-rate of Steady helped us deliver what we were working on throughout the week.

“We go into the game with a lot of confidence from the other night – especially considering the conditions we had to deal with.

“They threw a lot at us – they’re very direct – and I felt we defended brilliantly.”

Former Nottingham Forest player Garry Birtles

"I am not the first to say it, but it cannot go unsaid – Notts County fell victim to one of the worst refereeing decisions the game can ever have seen, at Coventry last week.

"What referee Gavin Ward saw to make him think he had to point to the spot mystifies me.

"Matt Tootle did not slide into the challenge, he did not take out Tom Bayliss with his trailing leg, he made clear, obvious contact with the ball, which changed direction massively, as a result.

"None of the Coventry players appealed for anything. Probably because it was a perfect, clean tackle. He won the ball and made little contact with his opponent in the process.

"It wasn’t a foul, it did not look like a foul and I will never understand how the referee has come to the conclusion that it was.

"If Notts miss out on a place in the play-off final because of that decision, it will be a travesty, in a football sense.

"But I am very much hoping that they will not. Playing the second leg at home, where they have been so strong this season, in front of a packed Meadow Lane crowd – I fancy them to get the job done."

Coventry City boss Mark Robins

“We need to send our supporters home happy.

“It will be a good game and it might even go all the way. We need to be prepared for that.

“There is plenty of enthusiasm. Ever since the game finished on Saturday we have been looking forward to tomorrow.

“We have had a mixture of rest, recovery and training this week.

“We played really well in the first leg and only made one or two mistakes, but sadly that cost us a goal.

“There is going to be a full stadium, and that is what we look forward to. The prize at the end of it is great and we have to make sure we get the process of getting to that right.

“The supporters should be excited and they should be in full voice and right behind the players. We could do with making their fans quiet.”

Opta stats

This is the fourth time in succession that Notts County have drawn the first leg of their play-off semi-final away from home, with the Magpies reaching the final on each of three previous occasions.

Coventry haven't won any of their last eight away games against Notts County in all competitions (D2 L6), since a 3-0 victory in August 1963.

The Magpies are unbeaten in their last nine home games in all competitions, winning five and drawing four.

The Sky Blues have lost just one of their last seven away games in all competitions (W4 D2), though that defeat did come at Meadow Lane in April (1-2).

Coventry haven't been promoted from any division since winning the second tier in 1966-67.

Four of Coventry's five goals against Notts County this season have been scored in the 80th minute or later.

Jonathan Forte has scored all three of Notts County's goals against Coventry in all competitions this season.

Coventry scored with their only shot on target in the first leg - Marc McNulty's 87th minute penalty.

Team news

Notts County could be unchanged, with Jonathan Forte expected to be fit.

However, Coventry's Tom Davies is suspended having been handed a retrospective three-game ban by the FA for his stamp on Richard Duffy.

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Massive game tonight for all involved, yet especially the youngsters who haven't been to Wembley or even see us in the playoffs. We need to savour this moment and spur our team onto victory. #COYP

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My dads ashes are buried in the Meadow Lane pitch.... I will be willing him to rise up and drive us on to win tonight..... come on dad ....... do us proud... 

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This is a massive game.!! I can’t wait this is the biggest game since we won league 2 title medow Lane was sold out !! Just like tonight .. let’s hope it’s in the right result

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