Notts County can take plenty of positives out of their 1-1 draw with local rivals Lincoln City at the weekend, as we approach the final third of the Sky Bet League Two campaign.
With the Magpies sitting rock-bottom of the league and with the Imps sitting nicely at the summit of the league standings, many were expecting Danny Cowley’s men, who were backed by over 4,000 travelling supporters, to comfortably ease past Neal Ardley’s men.
But after making an array of shrewd signings towards the latter stages of the transfer window, County got off to the perfect start, with captain Jon Stead netting from the spot in the opening minute of the game
Bruno Andrade did level for Lincoln on the stroke of half-time, but although they were let off when John Akinde missed a stoppage-time penalty, Notts put in a valiant display against the league leaders, and were well deserving of a point.
Notts handed debuts to four new players in the likes of Craig Mackail-Smith and Mitch Rose, but it was Michael Doyle who stole the show for County – the former Coventry City man put in a gutsy, powerful performance in the middle of the park, and forged a fantastic understanding with Jim O’Brien.
Here, with the Magpies still well in the relegation mix, we take a look at three reasons why Michael Doyle can be the saviour for the Magpies this term.
He is a leader
After the departure of club captain Michael O’Connor to Lincoln in the summer, Notts have been lacking any real leadership or experience in midfield.
David Vaughan looked to be a magnificent coup for the East Midlands side when he arrived from Nottingham Forest in the summer, but he really has not impressed for County this season, and isn’t a player who will bark orders on the pitch when the chips are down.
Doyle is the complete opposite, though. He was a magnificent leader in the middle of midfield, and did well to nullify the likes of vastly experienced duo Lee Frecklington and Michael O’Connor throughout the 90 minutes.
Ardley has already said that Doyle is like having a “manager’s voice in the middle of the park”, and that’s exactly what he showed at the weekend.
He doesn’t play like he’s 37-years old
Age is just a number in Doyle’s case.
On Saturday afternoon, his passing was sublime, he covered nearly every blade of grass, and won nearly every challenge that he dived into.
He put in a performance that the fans really warmed to, and he can carry on playing on many more years for sure.
He’s been successful at League Two level before.
Of course, Notts are not competing for a promotion spot by any means, but having someone like Doyle, who knows what it takes to get out of this league, can only help them in the short-term.
He captained the Portsmouth side that gained promotion to League One a couple of seasons ago, and then also captained a Coventry side that secured promotion from League Two via the play-offs last season, defeating County in the semi-final.
He’s a vastly experienced player who knows this league like the back of his hands.