Oppositions view SPECIAL: John Cafferkey v Rob Davies

By Paul Smith and Gary Moss
Last updated : 21 November 2007

How do you assess your sides recent form?

Lincoln:
Lincoln City's form has been diabolical since August. They haven't

Cup reprieve: Lincoln squared up to Forest.
won a game since the opening month and the only bright light recently has been the draw against Nottingham Forest in the FA Cup, which is a nice distraction away from the league. But I think City have to really focus on getting results in the league. They've had some terrible results and again against Wycombe in their last league game - a 1-0 defeat, a player sent off early on, quite harshly. That never helps but you tend to get those decisions going against you when you're at the bottom end of the table. Recent form suggests that they are going to struggle against whoever they play. They don't look like they can buy a win at the moment so they are up against it when they play Notts County.

Notts: It's a difficult thing to assess because Charlie McParland's had the sort of run of fixtures any new manager wants when they come into a new job. We played some promising stuff against Wrexham, Accrington & Histon before the defeat against Macclesfield on Saturday. That said, I think steady progress is being made.

What were the pre-season aspirations?

Lincoln: Well, the aspirations from the management team for Lincoln City
Mayo... Former Imp still missed
were promotion and automatic promotion at that. They said they'd strengthened the team, they said they had a better squad at their disposal and a better squad than the club has had in many years. The Chairman and the board echoed that view. I think the fans and observers would have argued with that. We saw some of the signings such as Steve Torpey as the first of the summer which rang some alarm bells. They were signing a 36-year-old centre-forward and the lack of a central defender coming in rang even more alarm bells. I put the question to John Deehan (former director of football) in the summer saying 'a central defender must be your priority.' He said 'no, his priority was left-back.' I couldn't believe that at the time because they'd lost Paul Mayo who can play at centre-back, Paul Morgan, and the previous season they lost Jamie McCombe and Gareth McAuley. That's four high quality defenders that have left City and have not been replaced and now you have a team who are letting in goals for fun.

Notts: Most - including the then-management - expected top seven. I thought we had a decent squad, but after Edwards' injury left us woefully light at the back (and ST brought in a right back to replace him), and I saw the 4-3-3 in 'action', I'd come to realise that we were unlikely to better last season's finish.

What are the aspirations now?

Lincoln:
The aspirations are to stay in the league- simple as. That is what Peter Jackson has been brought into the club to do. He's had three league games and three defeats. It will be very tough this season.

Notts: I think we have to give the new management time. A sign of decent, passing football and a top 10 finish would signal steady progress.

Who has been your sides player of the season so far?

Lincoln:
It's very difficult to pick out a player who has stood out. One of the
Stallard... Former Magpie missed by Imps
players I've been quite impressed with has been Paul Green. He is a young player who has been played out of position by the previous manager and now he's starting to come into his own and he has had some good games. If, however, you can mark a player by his absence then Mark Stallard - when he's not in the team then they don't look the same. Dany N'Guessan has been better this season. He has had a run in the team but is very, very hit and miss. When he's good he's very good but when he's not having a good game, he is slightly anonymous. But there have been no stand out performers for me this season. Lots of players have been off-colour, but hopefully the players will be lifted by Jackson.

Notts: Not seen a lot of games but I think MacKenzie is an excellent player who is rated highly by McParland. I just wish the Meadow Lane crowd wouldn't get on his back so much! Special mention too for Stephen Hunt whose had far too much responsibility on him; People forget last season was his first as a centre back. He'll flourish when Edwards returns.

Who do you see as Lincoln City's danger man on Saturday?

Lincoln:
Lee Frecklington is coming into some form. He's had some good games under Jackson. Maybe he's getting more out of Frecklington because of the system he's playing him in. He's playing a straight 4-4-2 and he seems to be revelling in that role at the moment. He's a player you can say if he turns it on, can turn a game on its head. But also another top player has been Louis Dodds. If he can find his form again, he is a very quick and a very good player.

Notts: Dany N'Guessan's a talented player who can win games, but also be completely hopeless. I also think it's great to see Stallard doing well there and Notts fans won't need reminding of his quality (or bouncing hair).

Who do you see as Notts County's danger man on Saturday?

Lincoln:
Richard Butcher we know very well at Lincoln. He is a fantastic
Butcher... Another former Imp is Notts danger
midfielder who had a really hard time at Oldham butCity fans know what a good player this lad is. If he's on form especially, if he's got his shooting boots on, he's very, very difficult to mark because he comes from deep and pops up when you least expect. He's such a fit midfielder who wins great tackles in the middle and his distribution is good. I think he's one of the top players in the division. If Jason Lee plays he always likes to play against Lincoln and he always gives us a rough ride. He always seems to score as well. And of course, Mayo. All Lincoln City fans have a lot of respect for him. He's a local lad and one who has done well for himself. It's just a shame he didn't stay because they could probably do with a defender of his calibre at the back right now.

Notts: Lawrie Dudfield got a lot of stick earlier in the season but I think, with confidence, he could excel. To gain confidence he needs to continue scoring and I have a feeling he could do that Saturday.

Do you agree with the earlier sackings of your respective former managers John Schofield and Steve Thompson? Will the decision pay off?

Lincoln:
I know people around the club who have spoken very highly of John Schofield. The players thought very highly of him but I think the club had to make a decision and that decision had to come early to give a new manager with new ideas the chance in the transfer market, when the window opens in January, to strengthen the team and bring in players who can keep Lincoln City in this division. I know people didn't like to see John Schofield getting sacked but frankly he didn't look like turning the corner while he was manager.

Notts: Definitely. Morale in the stands was at such a low Notts couldn't afford NOT to get rid. People say he has a good eye for a player but he put together a horribly lob-sided squad. Four right-backs, two centre backs. Five central midfielders, two widemen. He was a decent bloke but horribly out of his depth and I think that would have been further exposed had he been kept on.

What do you make of respective new bosses Peter Jackson and Charlie McParland?

Lincoln:
What he has done since he came in is added a bit of steel. They

Kevan... Good appointment by McParland
look like a more organised unit, and they look like they're better equipped to defend. Despite the big defeat against Chesterfield, the defence has made some improvement but they've got a long way to go. It is almost as if Jackson has identified the problem as being the goalkeeper Alan Marriott and has brought in Ben Smith on loan. But, I don't think it's just a matter of Marriott making mistakes. He has just been playing behind a defence that is very, very low on confidence. Jackson has got a lot of work to do to meeting the aspirations of keeping City in the league.

Notts: He's the man we should have got 18 months ago. He is young and he will make mistakes, but I think if we are patient he will, finally, get us out of this league. Very impressed with his coaching staff too; Dave Kevan will be a massive influence.

How important is the game for your club?

Lincoln:
For me Saturday's game is huge. City need a result in the league. Even if it's a point it could be a platform to start building on. You cannot keep getting beat week in, week out. City need some sort of a result. A point would be a huge result for Lincoln at the moment because they need to start getting points on the board and they need to prevent coming adrift at the bottom. We don't want to see that happen.

Notts: Unfortunately Charlie came into a job where every game is vital, as the table is taking shape. After losing Saturday, I think it takes added importance and, with it being something of a Derby game, it cannot be underestimated.

Where will Lincoln City finish this season?

Lincoln:
I think Lincoln are a good enough team to get out of this. It very much depends on what Peter Jackson can do in the transfer window to sign a very good centre-back. That is essential. I think we have enough fire power up front if we can get Stallard and Jamie Forrester fit then we've got two of the best in the division. If things go well, I think Lincoln can string results together and be safe of trouble.

Thompson... Early season casualty
Notts:
I said prior to the season that they wouldn't make the playoffs again but I must admit I didn't think they'd be rock bottom at the end of November. I think they'll recover sufficently but should have to accept that their season ticket in the League Two playoffs may have expired. Probably 12th-18th.

Where will Notts County finish this season?

Lincoln:
County are a big club. They need to be looking at promotion from this division and I think that's why Steve Thompson became an early casualty this season because he didn't look like producing promotion and they looked like finishing mid-table. I think if they can get their act together and string some results together I think they could certainly mount a late charge for the playoffs.

Notts: As stated above, I think it'd be asking a lot for a top seven finish now. Even though sides like Hereford - with far smaller budgets - are flying high. I think we'll probably be about 10th with hopefully an automatic promotion push next year.

Prediction?

Lincoln:
Well it's Lincoln City all the way. I'd have to say 1-1!

Notts: 1-1. Dudfield for Notts.

Notts. County Match Reports

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