Notts v Stockport... MUST WIN match preview

Last updated : 04 January 2008 By Paul Smith
With no win since Neil MacKenzie fired a superb late free-kick against Shrewsbury at Meadow Lane four games ago, and with that the only win in Notts' last nine games, the time has come to declare three points as a must.

Meadow Lane... A fortress against Hatters
The playoffs are no longer possible, that fact has to be faced, and a battle to avoid the drop is a real test for Charlie McParland's men.

Meadow Lane is hardly a ground that has many teams in fear of a defeat at the moment, but perhaps Stockport will be one of the few who are nervous running out of the Derek Pavis Stand.

That is because the Hatters have an average recent record in Nottingham, losing the last four meetings between the sides there.

Notts have to make sure that continues.

Team news
McNulty... In contention for Stockport

Notts - Jason Lee has been ruled out for up to two weeks and joins long term absentees Mike Edwards and Jay Smith on the sidelines. Myles Weston is out after suffering another recurrence of his long standing hamstring injury. Guy Branston is in the squad for the first time, and Felix Bastians will make his debut.

Stockport - Adam Nowland's loan has finished and the midfielder has moved back to Preston. Latest signings Leon McSweeney, James Smith and Jim McNulty are all in contention. Missing out will be Ashley Williams, Matty McNeil and Dominic Blizzard.

Form guide

Notts - No win in four and only one in the last nine for Notts which has seen them into 19th position in the table, seven points above safety and 17 from the playoff zone. At home it is six defeats from 12 games, with four wins.

Stockport - Jim Gannon's men look like overturning their inconsistent form with back to back wins to see in the New Year. Last time out they beat surprise package Morecambe 2-1, making it four wins in their last six. Currently 12th, the Hatters are ten points better off than Notts and have won five of their 12 away games.

Last time out

Pilkington... Star man at Stockport couldn't halt loss
Stockport 2-0 Notts - (December 26 2006)

The last meeting between the sides came at Edgeley Park on Boxing Day last season as Notts slumped to their fifth defeat in six courtesy of goals from Anthony Pilkington and Liam Dickinson.

It would have been worse had it not been for Notts goalkeeper Kevin Pilkington, back in after being dropped in place of Saul Deeney, as Pilkington made countless saves to prevent a harsher scoreline.

The deadlock was broken just two minutes into the second half as Hatters youngster Pilkington headed home an Adam Griffin cross, before Dickinson finished Notts off late on reacting first to Stephen Gleeson's effort which cannones back off the bar.

Only Kevin Pilkington, Austin McCann and Andy Parkinson are likely to start for Notts on Saturday out of the eleven starters that day.

Key men

Notts - Lawrie Dudfield is perhaps the one striker guaranteed a start at the moment even though he, along with the others, are struggling for the one thing they should do - scoring goals.

That is because the former Leicester ace is contributing in other areas as his work rate sets the benchmark for his team mates.
Elding... Lethal

His creativity in the final third can make a difference for Notts and his ability to get to the byline and work the channels will open up the Hatters defence.

Dudfield may not be scoring, but his overall game has been impressive of late and it is only a matter of time before it starts to pay more dividends for Notts.

Stockport - Anthony Elding is the man to stop for the Magpies. Since moving from Boston United a year ago, the striker hasn't stopped scoring.

Despite hardly being prolific for the Pilgrims, the work horse has improved his finishing no end, and will be desperate to do well against former York Street team mates such as Lee Canoville and Austin McCann.

If a ball falls to him in and around the box he will be deadly and he has averaged exactly a goal every other game since he moved on a free transfer last January.

The number nine has ten league goals to his name this term.

Big battle

For Elding to get any luck he will be relying on the help of his likely strike partner Liam Dickinson whose battle with Notts' defender Krystian Pearce will be crucial.

Dickinson is a tall, powerful player who is especially dangerous in the air, and it will be up to Birmingham loanee Pearce to stop him.

His flick ons to Elding will be a great source of danger and Pearce will have to stick to his task if given the nod.

He is good enough to cope, and his pace will certainly give him the edge over Dickinson.

That said, in the air Pearce still has a bit to learn, and Gannon's men may look to play on that shortcoming.

If Dickinson gets an advantage that way, Stockport will create genuine goalscoring chances - over to you Krystian!

Possible line-ups

Notts (4-4-2) - Kevin Pilkington; Lee Canoville, Krystian Pearce, Adam Tann, Stephen Hunt; Andy Parkinson, Richard Butcher, Neil MacKenzie, Austin McCann; Lawrie Dudfield, Hector Sam.

Stockport (4-4-2) - Conrad Logan; Jason Taylor, Michael Raynes, Gareth Owen, Adam Griffin; Anthony Pilkington, Gary Dicker, Paul Turnbull, Greg Tansey; Liam Dickinson, Anthony Elding.


Notts are a bit of a bogey team at home for Stockport - NCM back that to continue. 2-1 Notts.