Kevin Nolan and Notts County primed for League Two promotion

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Despite holding the mantle as the oldest professional club in the land, Notts County do not have a great reputation for stability.

The Magpies have had 17 permanent managers in the past 10 years, with 12 of those coming since 2010.

But in Kevin Nolan, they may have stumbled upon a managerial gem.

Discarded by Leyton Orient as player-manager in 2016, the ex-Bolton Wanderers star was appointed at Meadow Lane in January 2017.

Since then the 35-year-old has turned around the fortunes of this historic old club.

When he arrived, County had just lost 10 games on the spin and were one point above the relegation zone in League Two.

Fast forward 12 months and the Magpies are perched proudly in second spot and look set for only their second promotion since 1997.

They’re now odds-on to go up at 1/2, while it’s 8/1 they overhaul Luton Town and reach League One as champions.

What Nolan has achieved on the banks of the Trent in such a short space of time is nothing short of a miracle.

Their good form can be put largely down to a massive hike in their performances at home.

County are unbeaten at Meadow Lane thus far and can boast an attendance rise of over 1,500 on average from last season.

They have the third-best record at home in front of goal and the third tightest defence.

In terms of players, Jorge Grant has proved a shrewd acquisition on loan from Nottingham Forest.

The 23-year-old has been involved in over 40% of the Magpies’ goals this season, scoring 13 and assisting five.

In Jon Stead, he has the perfect foil up-front, while Terry Hawkridge and Ryan Yates have both excelled in the midfield. Unfortunately the latter of those now looks likely to join Scunthorpe United on loan from parent-club Nottingham Forest.

At the back, their sturdiness can be put down to the experienced partnership of Shaun Brisley and Richard Duffy.

The pair have been almost ever-present so far this season and form the base of one of the division’s strongest spines.

Meanwhile, Nolan’s set-up away from home typifies that of his former boss at club level, Sam Allardyce.

One of Big Sam’s philosophies in football is to respect the point when playing away from home.

County have taken that on board and have drawn four, won one and lost one of their last six away league games.

If they can turn a few more of those away performances into wins, then they should be dead certs for promotion.

Notts County travel to Lincoln City on Saturday and are 21/10 to come away from Sincil Bank with all three points.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing

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Nick Murphy

Nick is a graduate of the University of East Anglia where he doubled up as the sports editor of the student newspaper Concrete. He also supports Dagenham & Redbridge and previously edited the matchday programme at Victoria Road. Other passions include darts, cricket, speedway and horse racing.