New signings raise Notts County hopes ahead of Mansfield Town derby

Notts County manager, Neal Ardley.
Notts County manager, Neal Ardley.

Mansfield Town’s local derby at Notts County on Saturday (1pm) will be a very different challenge to the one posed when Stags won 2-0 at home just over two months ago.

Neil Ardley, the club’s third manager of a miserable campaign, has almost completely changed the side with eight January signings - and four points from two game against promotion-chasers Lincoln City and Forest Green Rovers suggest the worm is starting to turn.

Notts are now just four points from safety and hopes are quickly rising that the experienced manager can save the world’s oldest league club.

Ardley said last week that he was disappointed in himself for not having made more of an impact, but he was being unfair on himself given the team he inherited was ravaged by injuries and low on confidence.

But he’s shown a good eye in the transfer market which has undoubtedly given Notts a chance of survival.

The experienced Michael Doyle was a great capture and has added steel to the midfield, as has Jim O’Brien, and the pair have formed a great partnership in the middle of the pitch.

Both tough tacklers, they have added some bite which Notts have lacked all season.

Sam Stubbs and Ben Barclay are two young centre backs, but have been excellent in the last two games.

Keeper Ryan Schofield, who has signed from Huddersfield, is tipped to have a bright career in the game.

He is an England U20 international and has been solid, while Mitch Rose is well known to the Stags fans and has added presence and athleticism to the side.

Striker Craig Mackail-Smith’s work-rate has immediately caught the eye since arriving on loan from Wycombe and Forest loanee Virgil Gomis’s pace has added an outlet to the attack and could have had a hat-trick last weekend.

Doyle and O’Brien have been excellent bits of business and Ardley is getting back key players from injury like Enzio Boldewijn and Kane Hemmings.

Andy Kellett is still working his way back to fitness, but other than that Notts have a clean bill of health.

Richard Duffy, Shaun Brisley and Dan Jones are unlikely to be involved as they’ve fallen out of the picture recently due to new arrivals.

Hemmings is fit again but has had to do with a place on the bench.