Firstly Leigh, how you would you sum up the Magpies first season in the National League?
To be in this position given where the club was 12 months ago has been a remarkable effort. I don’t believe that even the most optimistic of Notts fans would have expected the club to be fighting for an EFL return given the turbulence of last summer.
We have to remember that until the Reedtz brothers took over the club in late July, Notts only had a week to prepare for the new season with a squad that was down to the bare bones.
What Neal Ardley and the players have done since then has been fantastic. It took a few games for them to settle down, but they have largely been excellent throughout the season. But as we all know the play-offs are something of a lottery. Regardless of what happens it’s been a good season.
After a slowish start, you really started to find form, what do you think was the turning point? What do you make of the job Ardley has done?
The manager has done an outstanding job and his recruitment has been excellent. The turning point for me was Christmas. They went on a terrific run and from then on they have not looked back. Players have been in good form throughout the season such as Kyle Wootton, Enzio Boldewijn and Connell Rawlinson.
The addition of Alex Lacey was smart business too and the defensive partnership between him and Rawlinson has underpinned what has been an excellent run of results.
The manager has instilled a different style of play which is pleasing on the eye. And the way he has pulled all that together has been superb. He and the players deserve a huge amount of credit.
There’s always going to be big expectation on Notts at this level, how do you think the players will cope with the added pressure?
Whether they are in the league or out of it, there is always a huge expectation at Notts purely because of their history. They were FA Cup winners back in the late 1800s, and they were one season away from being inaugural founders of the Premier League.
So there are always big demands, but what I like about this group and the manager is they respect the club’s traditions and take it all in their stride.
Thoughts on Barnet’s season and what kind of game you reckon it’ll be?
I think they have had a fine season. They obviously came to Notts early on and were one of two teams to beat them at Meadow Lane this season. Akinola is a player I like and he caused numerous problems in that game. They’ve got some very good counter-attack players and they have nothing to lose given how they crept into the top seven. I watched them against Yeovil and while I didn’t think they played that well overall, they defended magnificently.
I am expecting a cagey game and I think the fittest team will come out on top rather than one that has the best quality.
What’s the general mood of the Pies fans heading into the big match?
One of hope and expectation really. If this game had been played in normal circumstances, then we could have expected 15,000 fans inside the stadium. But they are a passionate bunch and I am sure they will be roaring Notts on from their armchairs. I think most agree that they never truly expected to be in this position given there was a long time the league looked like it would be declared null and void.
They are just thankful they have a connection with the players again after last season’s horrendous relegation from the Football League.
Who’s the player that Bees fans should watch out for Saturday?
I’m going to go for Enzio Boldewijn. The Dutch winger has had a brilliant season and is capable of turning a game on its head through pure magic. He scored one of the goals of the season against Barnet here. And Notts fans are hoping he can produce a repeat of that.
A quick score prediction for Saturday!
I believe it will be a hard-fought game. But I am going to go for a sneaky 1-0 win to Notts.