'Harder and harder to see' Notts County avoiding relegation
The grim reality of relegation to the National League is beginning to set in at Notts County.
While MK Dons head to Meadow Lane on Good Friday chasing escape from League 2 at the sharp end, the oldest professional football club in the world are desperately clinging onto their league status.
The Magpies are two points from safety with four games remaining, and they have seen relegation rivals Macclesfield Town climb out of the bottom two, replacing them with Yeovil Town.
With three managers over the course of the season - Kevin Nolan, Harry Kewell and now Neil Ardley - the club is on the brink of the non-leagues.
Having started the season as one of the favourites for promotion, Tom Leach, football writer for the Nottingham Post, believes reality is beginning to set in at County as they face potential relegation.
"There has always been a quiet confidence from the camp that Notts would survive," he told the Citizen. "Up until Saturday's 3-0 defeat to Crewe, I believed it myself, even with them at one stage eight points from safety. But with four games left to play and with MK Dons still to come to Meadow Lane it's becoming harder and harder to see them getting out of this one.
"After spending the majority of last season chasing automatic promotion, the Magpies fell into the play-off places at the wrong time and were well beaten in the semi-final by a Coventry side on their way to promotion, even if they did have a helping hand from the officials.
"Back in July, Notts County were favourites for promotion under Kevin Nolan and fans were looking forward to another battle at the right end of the division. But, after he lost four of his first five games, the worst a 4-0 defeat to Yeovil Town, he was gone and the season that has been the worst in the club's history started to unravel. Harry Kewell replaced him and after winning three on the bounce everyone thought the nightmare was over, but three defeats in five would follow and Kewell was gone after just ten weeks.
"Now under Neal Ardley, the performances have improved but results are still few and far between and there have been plenty of off-field distractions with a takeover by an unnamed South African consortium currently in the latter stages of due diligence.
"The Magpies have a talented squad with names like Jon Stead, Craig Mackail-Smith and Kane Hemmings, who has somehow scored 13 goals for the league's bottom club."