Although Tranmere Rovers, who currently occupy League Two’s final play-off spot, need no motivation at Meadow Lane on Saturday, it is fair to say though that most of the pressure will be on Notts County.

 

The Magpies are locked in a battle against an unthinkable relegation and must preserve their proud status as the world’s oldest Football League club at all costs…

 

Time for the Magpies to scrap

 

Notts County were among League Two’s biggest spending clubs in the summer, showing ambition to win promotion.

 

Instead, they are 23rd in the division and into their fifth managerial stint of the campaign, if we include Steve Chettle’s two brief spells in caretaker charge.

 

The latest man in the hotseat, Neal Ardley, has credentials, having stabilized matters at AFC Wimbledon before leading them to promotion at this level in 2015-16.

 

Ardley will be keen to solidify a defence that has leaked 43 goals this term and build another team based on power, organization and leadership.

 

As much as it will pain Magpies fans to admit it, last week’s 2-0 loss at local rivals Mansfield will not teach them too much they do not already know; the Stags are at a far more advanced stage in terms of confidence in their playing identity.

 

In time, Ardley will want to discover a plan for his side’s use of the ball that will enable them to become competitive at this level but, for now, it’s a case of making sure they are carrying out the raw fundamentals of football to beat the drop.

 

Ardley left nippy striker Kristian Dennis out of the starting eleven, which suggests that County’s game under him will be about playing to target man like Jonathan Stead; they could set up in a 4-3-3 system with as many as three holding midfielders in Rob Milsom, Michael Vaughan and Elliott Hewitt.

 

If he and chairman Alan Hardy were offered a 22nd-placed finish right now, they would take it emphatically.

 

 

Rovers off the boil

 

When Tranmere enjoyed a productive October, then beat Exeter 2-0 at the beginning of November, they attacked with pace, energy and directness, as if to epitomize the momentum behind the club following last season’s dramatic promotion.

 

More recently however, performance levels have plateaued slightly.

 

Micky Mellon’s side have shipped eight goals in their last two away games against bottom half sides Crewe and Grimsby, defeats which sandwiched a below-par Prenton Park draw with Oldham.

 

 

Granted, an improved second half performance at home to struggling Cambridge saw them to a 1-0 victory, as 15-goal top scorer James Norwood grabbed the winner.

 

Norwood though has scored 48

Odds are correct at the time of posting

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