Like last Friday’s opponents Newport, Notts County are looking forward to a big FA Cup tie on Saturday. They face Premier League strugglers Swansea at Meadow Lane, having knocked out Championship side Brentford in the third round when Jon Stead scored the only goal at Griffin Park. A crowd of 10,000 is expected for Swansea’s visit, although club owner Alan Hardy admitted if Wolves had got through the financial benefits would have been greater. “They would have brought four times as many fans,” he said.
Notts fans had a shock on Saturday when their side lost for the first time at Meadow Lane this season when they were beaten 2-1 by Exeter City. Stead’s late penalty wasn’t enough although boss Kevin Nolan felt his side did enough to earn a point. “Some of the football we played in the second half was the best under my tenure,” said Nolan, whose first game in charge was a year ago against the Reds.
Notts gave debuts to three new signings – Liverpool loanee Matty Virtue, Liam Noble and Noor Husin – on Saturday. Nolan was without injured captain Richard Duffy and fellow defender Matt Tootle both sidelined and a doubt for tomorrow night. For Crawley, Josh Payne returns having completed his three-match suspension.
Reds have never won at Meadow Lane with only one point from five previous visits to Nottingham. Last season James Collins equalised late on only for ex-Reds loanee Jonathan Forte to seal a 2-1 win.
In September 2016, Rhys Murphy put Mark Yates’ side ahead on his debut but Reds lost 4-1. Our only point at Notts came in November 2012 when Forte scored in a 1-1 draw. We lost 1-0 on our other trip to Meadow Lane on Easter Monday 2014, Jimmy Spencer getting the only goal against John Gregory’s side. Back in September a second-half goal from Jorge Grant earned Notts a 1-0 win at the Checkatrade Stadium.
Saturday’s defeat to Exeter was only the Magpies’ second League defeat since mid-October, when they lost 2-0 at Crewe. That came at Swindon in November when they were beaten 1-0 at Swindon on December 30.