Securing their return to the EFL after four years came in dramatic fashion in the National League play-off final but much of the season had been a procession for Notts County as they strolled past the 100-point mark in their titanic tussle with Wrexham.
Now they are seeking to show just why they are considered among the favourites for another promotion.
Red cards in the first two matches of the campaign brought two defeats, including a heavy 5-1 loss at Sutton United on the opening day of the season. But the Magpies came from behind to Grimsby Town last weekend, and followed up their maiden win with a point at Morecambe.
LAST TIME OUT
Morecambe 0 Notts County 0
Sky Bet League Two, Tuesday, August 15, 2023
Line-up: Stone, Chicksen (Adebayo-Rowling 70), O’Brien (Austin 60), Cameron, Nemane (Scott 85), Palmer, Baldwin, Jones (Bostock 85), Crowley, Langstaff, McGoldrick. Subs not used: Slocombe, Rawlinson, Morais.
County are tackling their return to the EFL with the impressive Luke Williams at the helm. The 42-year-old had his side playing an entertaining, attack-minded brand of football in the National League and he is unlikely to change his approach any time soon.
Never managing to reach the EFL as a player, he did so as a manager in January 2016 when appointed by Swindon Town following the departure of Martin Ling. After departing the County Ground in May 2017, he coached at Bristol City, MK Dons and Swansea City before joining the Magpies ahead of the start of last term.
THE KEY MEN
The Keeper: Aidan Stone
Signed in pre-season from Port Vale, the 24-year-old was sent off on the opening day for County but has come straight back into the team. He made 20 appearances for the Valiants last season. Stone came through the youth ranks at Burnley and enjoyed a loan spell at Mansfield Town.
Defender: Connell Rawlinson
A fixture in the County side for the past four seasons, the experienced defender spent much of his career in the League of Wales with The New Saints, who he joined following the liquidation of Chester City. The 31-year-old joined Port Vale in 2018 before switching to the Magpies in 2019.
In midfield: John Bostock
A popular figure during his 18 months with Rovers, technically-gifted Bostock has thrived since joining County in December last year. The former Crystal Palace and Tottenham Hotspur youngster netted a vital equaliser at Wembley to take their play-off final to extra time and was also on target last weekend.
Up top: David McGoldrick
Arguably the most eye-catching signing of the summer in Sky Bet League Two was the return to Meadow Lane of former youth team product McGoldrick. He netted 25 goals in 45 appearances for League One Derby County last season and had a long list of suitors in the summer before following his heart.
Rovers first met Notts County in the second tier during the 1950/51 season and did the double over the Magpies – winning 2-1 at Meadow Lane and 3-2 at Belle Vue. Rovers have a slight edge historically over the Football League’s oldest side, having won 19 of 42 league meetings to County’s 16.
They last went head-to-head in March 2017 when goals from James Coppinger, Mathieu Baudry and Andy Williams helped Rovers to a 3-1 win at the Eco-Power Stadium.
TURNED OUT FOR BOTH
Both clubs enjoyed the services of legendary sharpshooter Tom Keetley. The Derby-born forward played six seasons with Rovers, scoring 185 goals in 240 appearances during his time at Belle Vue. In 1930 he moved to Notts County and in his second season there, 31/32, he found top form. Keetley scored 39 goals in 34 League appearances (41 in 38 in all senior competitions) as County won Division Three (South).
Keetley’s exploits were, to some degree, trumped by County’s Macaulay Langstaff in 22/23. The striker netted 42 goals in 45 National League appearances as County earned promotion via the play-offs – but Keetley still holds County’s seasonal scoring record in the Football League.
Contributors: John Coyle, Gavin Hepworth