Notts County: Players must seize chance, says boss Chris Kiwomya
CHRIS Kiwomya has seized his chance in the hot-seat at Notts County – and has now told his players: "It's over to you."
The 43-year-old will now be in charge of the Magpies until at least the end of the season, after impressing the club's board during four games in caretaker charge at Meadow Lane.
And with Notts ten points outside the play-offs in League One with 13 games of the season left, he says the players have to grab every opportunity that comes their way out on the pitch if they want to get back into the race for the top six.
The Magpies face third-placed Tranmere Rovers at Prenton Park tonight (7.45pm), after thrashing Bury 4-1 on home soil last Friday night, and Kiwomya said: "I need players to grab the moment and say 'hey, this is my shirt'.
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"I couldn't have gone to the owner and asked to be in charge until the end of the season straightaway – if I had, he would have said 'no'.
"They now think I've done all right in a few games and have given it to me for 13 more.
"It's like that with the players – they have got to be ready and have the confidence and grab their chance."
Notts fell behind for the fifth game in a row against Bury at Meadow Lane, but fought back to win by scoring four quick goals in the second half.
Defender Julian Kelly made it 1-1 to make amends after gifting Shakers' skipper Steven Schumacher the chance from which he fired the visitors ahead in the first half, Francois Zoko scored twice and winger Jamal Campbell-Ryce completed the comeback from the penalty spot.
"I don't like us going 1-0 down, but I think it's a sign of good character when you bounce back," added Kiwomya.
"We've changed it at half-time a few times now and got it right and the lads have responded very well.
"I'd rather not have to make changes at half-time, I'd rather be up, but there has never been a lack of effort from the players and in the end we've come through and that is the main thing."
Having been in charge of Notts against Stevenage, Crewe, Walsall and Bury, Tranmere will be the hardest game yet since Kiwomya took over from sacked Keith Curle.
Rovers beat the Magpies 1-0 at Meadow Lane back in October and have been up there challenging for automatic promotion throughout the season.
A victory would really spark the belief Notts can make a late surge to get back into the play-offs, having slipped down to tenth place.
Kiwomya went to watch them demolish Colchester United 5-1 a day after the Magpies' convincing win against Bury so knows exactly the job on his hands.
"They had lost a few games, but it was a convincing win so it will be a tough game for us, especially at their place," he said.
"But they are the teams we have got to go and try and get something from away from home if we're going to be in the mix in the end, so I'll be telling the players that and we will go there with a strong squad.
"If we could win there it would be massive – and I think we can get something.
"Even a draw wouldn't be too bad because we've got a home game on Saturday.
"If we can go there and get a win it will send out a signal."
It certainly would – and Kiwomya feels the Notts players are full of confidence ahead of the trip.
"We're going into it off the back of a good win and we need to try and get some momentum going," he said.
"We've drawn two before that and I think we could have won one of those.
"We need to try and gets wins now, draws aren't going to be enough because we're ten points behind.
"I want to get us as close to the pack as possible to give us a chance with three or four games to go."