It had to happen eventually, and City’s first defeat of the season at Coventry on Saturday means it’s 2nd vs 1st on Tuesday rather than 1st vs 2nd, Notts County having overtaken City at the top. One worry for City and Paul Tisdale will have been Jordan Moore-Taylor having to be replaced at half time due to injury, if he fails to make it onto the pitch on Tuesday then Troy Archibald-Henville is likely to deputise. One defeat shouldn’t shake Tisdale’s faith in the side that has performed so well, but with games coming thick and fast in the coming weeks some weary legs may be rested on Tuesday.
Like City, Notts County have made a blistering start to the season and, following a 4-1 win over 10-man Lincoln on Saturday, sit atop the League Two table on goal difference. Kevin Nolan was considered to have been very harshly treated as one of about 900 managers Leyton Orient used in transforming themselves from League One promotion contenders to non-league wilderness, before taking charge of ailing Notts County in January 2017, leading them to a comfortable mid-table finish. That momentum has carried on in spades this season, after a 3-0 defeat (ironically at Coventry) on the opening day and losing to Scunthorpe on penalties in the EFL Cup, the Magpies have swept all before them, a 2-2 draw against Accrington the only time they have failed to taste victory. The squad available to Nolan is brimming with quality and experience such as Shola Ameobi and Jon Stead, while Jorge Grant is in fine goalscoring form with six in all competitions. One familiar face will be former City defender Richard Duffy.
Despite their travails last season Notts County took four points off City. The corresponding fixture as City struggled at home in the early season saw the visitors win 2-0 thanks to a brace from Stead. The return on Valentine’s Day perhaps epitomised the fighting spirit Nolan displayed on the pitch, as City went ahead through Wheeler. Despite Jake Taylor’s red card after 87 minutes it was soon 2-0 thanks to Ryan Harley. However, Duffy and Stead both scored in stoppage time to ensure a share of the spoils. Notts County have a big head to head lead in Football League matches with 16 wins to City’s 8 (18 draws).
The match officials for this game are:-
Referee: Kevin Johnson
Assistant Referees: Justin Amey and Ben Cobb
Fourth Official: Timothy Wood
Kevin has refereed City on seven occasions, going back to 2002. His most recent game with Exeter was when Blackpool visit St James Park in February. See here for a full list of games.