For the first time in their 157-year history, Notts County are staring relegation from the Football League right in the face, with just two games left to play this campaign.
Neal Ardley’s men currently find themselves sitting two points adrift of safety in the Sky Bet League Two table, ahead of a home clash with Grimsby Town on Saturday afternoon.
With the World’s Oldest Football League Club at real risk of losing its prestigious status, we, here at Football League World, spoke exclusively to Notts forward Lewis Alessandra, as the fight to avoid the drop to the National League reaches its latter stages.
The versatile attacker insisted that he and his teammates are more than up for the battle, as they look to catch Macclesfield Town in the race to avoid the dreaded drop.
He told us: “Most definitely. We all know what’s at stake and what’s needed in the next two games, which are both huge.
“It was a good season last year and we obviously wanted to build on that coming into this season, so it’s been frustrating, and it’s hard to put your finger on where it has gone wrong.”
It has been a tough season for the East Midlands club, who have struggled massively since their defeat to Coventry City in the League Two play-off semi-finals last term.
Alessandra, who was a key player under Kevin Nolan and scored seven goals last term, has since endured a tough season with injuries, and has subsequently failed to nail down a regular place in the side due to various managerial changes at Meadow Lane.
“It has been a frustrating season – playing in the middle of park under Harry Kewell, I felt the fittest and sharpest I’ve been in years and was really enjoying the role.
“Then, there was a managerial change, and before the new manager was even appointed, I got injured in a training session with only six lads training, putting me out of action for around seven to eight weeks after not initially realising the severity of it.
“Watching from the sidelines was tough, especially with the position the team was in the league. You feel helpless to the situation.”
“But I thoroughly enjoy living in the city – it’s a great club, with great history that we want to preserve.”
Alessandra is no stranger to a fight against the drop in League Two, with his former club Hartlepool United being relegated to the National League in 2017, despite beating Doncaster Rovers on the final day of the campaign.
The 30-year-old spoke about the lessons he learnt from the Pools’ drop to the fifth tier, and how he and his teammates can avoid going through similar heartbreak this time around.
“At Hartlepool, we got a great win on the last day against top of the league Doncaster, only for Newport to score in the 90th minute and send us down regardless. It’s a horrible feeling that hangs over you for long time, and not one we want in a few weeks time.
“Winning our final home game this weekend is massive, and hopefully that puts us in a position where it’s in our hands come the trip to Swindon on the final day of the season.”