Boxing Day sends Rovers to Meadow Lane – just as it did in 2016 when they last faced Notts County away in league action.
It was Rovers who came out on top on that occasion but the Magpies triumphed as the two sides met earlier this season at the Eco-Power Stadium.
Macauley Langstaff scored twice and Jodi Jones added another as County won 3-1, with Deji Sotona scoring a late consolation for Rovers.
The Magpies powered on from that point to put themselves firmly in promotion contention, but a recent downturn in form has damaged hopes of a top three finish.
A 2-1 defeat at Stockport County on Friday night was a third straight league loss, and fifth from seven matches, which has seen them drop to sixth in the table.
LAST TIME OUT
Stockport County 2 Notts County 1
Sky Bet League Two, Friday, December 22, 2023
Line up: Stone, Brindley (Adebayo-Rowling 80), Cameron, Baldwin, Nemane, Bostock (Gosling 87), Austin, Jones, Crowley, McGoldrick, Langstaff. Subs not used: Sanderson, Tipton, Rawlinson, Chicksen, O’Brien.
After a short playing spell on the non-league circuit, Luke Williams turned to management and found his first coaching roles in the youth set ups at Leyton Orient and West Ham United.
After success in the capital, the Englishman managed Brighton & Hove Albion’s under-21s before making the step into senior football in 2015 with Swindon Town. In the summer of 2022 Williams took over at Meadow Lane and guided the Magpies back to the EFL with 107 points.
THE KEY MEN
Goalkeeper: Aidan Stone
Stone started footballing life with non-league side Sporting Khalsa but also featured for Brocton before earning his big move to Burnley in 2017.
He never featured for the Clarets and left for Mansfield Town just two years later. He never nailed a permanent spot there either and moved on for a 38-game stint with Port Vale before signing for County in the summer.
Defender: Aden Baldwin
Towering centre half Baldwin is into his second season with Notts County after signing from MK Dons and has become a mainstay for Luke Williams’ side.
He started his career at Forest Green Rovers but has spent the majority of his career on the books at Bristol City. Despite spending five years at Ashton Gate, Baldwin never played but he settled in Nottinghamshire and scored two crucial goals in his side’s 3-2 play-off semi-final victory over Boreham Wood.
In the middle: Dan Crowley
As a youngster Crowley showed great promise as he turned out for Arsenal U21s as a 16-year-old but left the Gunners without a senior appearance.
The midfielder spent time in the Netherlands between spells in the EFL but made his permanent return home last season with Morecambe before joining County in the summer. He has contributed to 14 goals in 22 appearances so far this season.
Up top: Macaulay Langstaff
Magpies talisman Langstaff is enjoying a fine first season in the EFL and currently sits second in the league’s top scorer charts with 14 successes to his name.
The striker wrote himself into English footballing history last season when he broke the National League record for goals in a single campaign with 41 in 45 games. He has directly contributed to 65 goals in 72 appearances in the black and white.
Rovers first match against Notts County came in front of over 17,000 people at Belle Vue in December 1930 as they fell to a 1-0 loss in the second round of the 1930/31 FA Cup campaign.
Rovers do however hold a narrow lead in the head-to-head rivalry with 25 wins to their name in comparison to the Magpies’ 23. There has also been eight draws between the two sides.
The last time the two sides met in league action at Meadow Lane saw then-Darren Ferguson’s side prevail as 1-0 winners in December 2016 as Andy Williams netted the game’s only goal. Williams’ next goal in that promotion winning campaign didn’t come until the return fixture in March 2017 as he scored from the half-way line in a 3-1 Rovers win.
TURNED OUT FOR BOTH
Both sides boasted the services of powerful striker Nathan Tyson during what has become a now 19-team strong career for the former England U20 international.
The forward first signed for Notts County in the 2013/14 season and pulled on the shirt ten times while on loan from Blackpool but failed to score. He returned in August 2019 and scored once in 15 appearances.
Sandwiched in between those two spells came two years with Rovers in League One. Tyson scored 21 times in 80 outings for Rovers and became the first player to score a hat-trick at the Eco-Power Stadium in five years when he put three past Scunthorpe United in a 5-2 rout on the final day of the 2014/15 season.
In December, Tyson signed for Northern Premier League side Basford United at the age of 41.
Contributor: Jefferson Hall-Nolan