Kevin Nolan: Buckle under pressure? Notts County do the opposite

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Notts County may still be involved in a battle against the drop in League Two, but having delivered victory in their last home game, and now brought in three new players – including himself! – new boss Kevin Nolan is optimistic about the Magpies’ prospects.

With Ladbrokes being the proud shirt sponsors of the world’s oldest Football League club, the Ladbrokes News team have developed quite the affinity for County. So we were hoping Nolan’s optimism was well-placed when we caught up with the gaffer ahead of this weekend’s meeting with Cheltenham Town.

Ladbrokes News: The game at Accrington last weekend didn’t go as you would have wanted, but form has improved with four points in as many games since you took over. What’s encouraged you most about this squad and the players at your disposal?

Kevin Nolan: Last week was disappointing, but I was delighted with the previous game [a 2-1 victory over Crawley Town]. What we need at this stage of the season is consistency, and I think the lads here have the quality to deliver that.

We need to start seeing results improve on a weekly basis, instead of just one good performance every now and then. But I’m already encouraged by the fact they’re taking on board what I’ve said, following instructions and working hard in training.

If they keep doing that, I’m confident we’ll see a marked improvement in results on the pitch.

Ladbrokes News: You won the last home game against Crawley Town 2-1. County showed great character to go on and get that 90th-minute winner when you had 10 men. Has that given everyone a lift and an added belief that you can stay up?

Kevin Nolan: Definitely. Winning games brings confidence, and the way we dug in and got that result is something which has given the players a real spring in their step.

When you’re down to 10 men, especially during a difficult run, some players might buckle under the pressure or let their heads drop, but we did the exact opposite – and our determination and level of performance meant we ended up with a thoroughly deserved victory.

LN: It’s a real six-pointer at Meadow Lane on Saturday as you take on Cheltenham Town. The reverse fixture finished 3-2 to County. Do you think we’ll see another open game and plenty of goals? Or might this be a tighter affair?

KN: Well, I’m hoping it’s not like the last home game where we leave it until the last minute! We will get at Cheltenham and attack them right from the first whistle, and won’t allow them to get comfortable. That’s the ethos right now.

If it’s an entertaining game again, great – but at the moment, just getting the win, enjoying it and then moving on to the next game is by far the most important thing. So we’ll go out there, put them under pressure and hopefully our game plan will yield the three points.

LN: You’ve registered yourself as a player for the remainder of the season. What kind of role do you see yourself playing on the pitch? I’m sure it’ll be beneficial for the younger lads to have such an experienced head on the field with them.

KN: As much as anything, I just feel it’s handy to have the cover if we get a few injuries, or for rotating the squad during periods where the games are coming thick and fast.

But it’s going to take a lot for me to oust Michael O’Connor and Milly [Robert Milsom] in the middle of the park, because they’ve been fantastic since I’ve come in. But if I need to, I’m happy to slot in, and think I can complement what we have in midfield.

LN: We’ve seen a couple of additions to the squad arrive from elsewhere too – a former teammate of yours at Newcastle, Shola Ameobi, and Mark Yeates from Blackpool, who’s got plenty of pedigree in the Football League. What are you hoping to see from those two?

KN: Shola adds quality in his all-round play. He’s also got tons of experience, and you can rely on him to chip in with a few goals. Mark is excellent on the ball, and has the ability to really open up defences with his dribbling, and he’s a real threat from set-pieces as well.

They’re two great additions in a playing sense, and good lads to have in the dressing room as well, so hopefully they can make a big difference for us.

Notts County are 8/5 to enjoy victory over Cheltenham this weekend, while it’s 28/1 that they edge the Robins 3-2 for the second time this season.

Meanwhile, there’s 4/9 on offer for Nolan and co. to beat the drop this season. Based on their recent revival, that looks well worth backing.

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

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Dave Burin

Dave graduated with an MA in English Literature at Durham University, and worked in marketing before joining the Ladbrokes News team. A Man United fan and avid groundhopper, he’s also an ardent follower of Rugby League. You can usually find him at a ground near you, clutching a big cup of tea.