Notts County: Skipper Neal Bishop gives his play-offs verdict
CAPTAIN Neal Bishop has given his verdict on Notts County's play-off chances in League One, saying: "It's going to take a bigger and better run than last season to get back in there."
The Magpies are 11 points outside the top-six in 11th place in the table with 14 games left, ahead of facing Bury at Meadow Lane tonight (7.45pm).
Their promotion hopes are fading and it was exactly the same around this time last season. But then they turned it around by winning eight of their last 14 games, losing only three times, to surge up the table and just miss out on sixth place to Stevenage on goal difference.
Bishop thinks it is going to take an even stronger finish to get into the top six this time and said: "We've got to make sure we give it our all.
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"It's going to be a big ask to get back into the play-offs looking at the gap, not just in points, but also the number of teams above us.
"If we were sat in seventh and 11 points behind we'd only need one or two teams to mess up, but we need five or six teams to have a bad run for us to get back involved.
"It can happen because it's a crazy league, but it's going to be hard and it's probably going to take a run bigger and better than what we put together last year.
"We'll give it our all and we'll see where we are come the end of April."
It was Bury who ended the Magpies' play-offs dream last season, pulling off a shock 4-2 win at Meadow Lane in their penultimate home game.
Notts slipped from sixth to seventh after that setback and stayed there, even though they went onto win their last two games.
That defeat still haunts Bishop – but he hopes the Magpies can get revenge by beating them on home soil this time to spark their season back into life.
"It was a game we should have won, but they came here and turned us over," he said.
"We had two games left after it so we didn't want to say it at the time, but it was the one that cost us the play-offs."
The Magpies last won at Meadow Lane exactly a month ago today, beating Oldham Athletic 1-0 with a goal from striker Enoch Showunmi, and they have drawn their last two league games against Crewe and Walsall under caretaker-boss Chris Kiwomya.
They are yet to win a game since Keith Curle was sacked almost three weeks ago and Kiwomya was put in temporary charge.
And the two draws against Crewe and Walsall have panned out exactly the same way, with Notts starting poorly in the first half, going 1-0 down from the penalty spot, before fighting back in the second half and scoring to draw 1-1 and rescue a point.
Bishop returned to the heart of the Magpies' midfield at the Bescot Stadium, after serving a three-game ban, and has revealed he had a few harsh words for his team-mates in the dressing-room at half-time in an attempt to rally them.
And it worked as French striker Yoann Arquin netted an equaliser.
"Something had to be said," he said. "For one reason or another we weren't at it in the first half and it was the same as Crewe when we didn't do ourselves justice.
"Walsall were beating us at a canter and we knew we had to go out in the second half and really give it something.
"It wasn't just me; a few of the lads had something to say.
"The manager came in and told us what he wanted us to go and do in the second half, but 15 minutes is a long time and I thought stuff had to be said. It was done in a positive way, in the right way.
"There was no pointing of fingers or digging people out, it was done because we wanted to get a result out of the game.
"It was done for the benefit of the team.
"We got a reaction in the second half and we should have gone on to win the game.
"We have got to make sure that happens at the start of the game tonight.
"We can't just giving ourselves 45 minutes to get a result again."