Notts County - 3
Sam (49', 73'), Knowles (90+4')
Oxford City - 1
Golden (OG 26')
Notts Line Up
Tylor Golden (Dion Kelly-Evans 40')
Jim O'Brien (C)
Matty Wolfe (Michael Doyle 89')
Tyreace Palmer (Kyle Wootton 60')
Substitutes not used:
Eight changes for the Magpies for this Trophy encounter with a first senior start for Tyreace Palmer and a debut for Salford loanee Tylor Golden.
There was a contentious inclusion of "want-away" left back Adam Chicksen and Connell Rawlinson had to step in at the last minute for Ben Turner who sustained an injury during the warm up.
As expected the visitors had done their homework and continued to press Notts with a high tempo and having much the better of a first half that saw no attempt on goal for the Magpies.
Unfortunately for Tylor Golden it was a debut to forget and despite some promising work early on was unfortunate to pick up a knock to his ankle before inadvertently redirecting a James Roberts cross into his own net to give the Hoops a one goal advantage at the break.
A change in shape from 4-4-2 to 4-3-3 in the second half saw Notts get to grips with the Oxford high line and it didn't take long for the Magpies to find their equaliser through some great work by Elisha Sam, who after leaving a couple of the opposition's defenders in his wake, calmly found the back of the net with an assured finish.
If there is one thing we learned from the game yesterday it is that Sam is much more effective in an attacking front 3 than a flat midfield 4 and this was further confirmed on 73 minutes when the Belgian put Notts in front.
A front 3 or even an attacking midfield 3 just behind the striker allows players the freedom to interchange, come inside, go out wide etc. whilst maintaining some basic shape, fluidity and structure.
So, that goal, where do we start? From a stats perspective you have to consider what the likelihood of scoring that goal would be, so essentially assess what the xG might be.
In normal circumstances, had Sam actually been behind the ball, let's say with a free header and from that distance the xG would still be quite low with maybe a 1 in 25 chance of scoring. Now add the fact the cross from Chicksen was actually quite poor as it was played behind Sam and not at the best height that likelihood starts to drop even further.
For a player to get any kind of meaningful connection on that ball, especially if it was a player not blessed with Sam's height would be highly improbable, but to actually strike it as well as Sam did, with his heel, from behind his head and still beat the keeper from some 12 yards out was quite something.
Unfortunately the xG data I get from the experts doesn't include FA Trophy games but I'd be surprised to see it given more than a 1 in 100 rating of 0.01.
The game was finally put to bed in the dying seconds as Oxford, looking for an equaliser threw everybody up for a corner, including the keeper.
Jim O'Brien managed to clear the danger with a header from the Notts box that found Jimmy Knowles who managed to race the whole length of the pitch, out pacing both the Oxford keeper and a defender in the process to roll in a third goal for Notts and one that Knowles' second half display thoroughly deserved.
So onto the stats starting with the key match details:
Player stats updated. You can use the search function to see individual players or sort by column.
There was an element of sadness for me yesterday as it became the first match of the season that didn't feature Enzio Boldewijn.
A debut for Tylor Golden means Neal Ardley has now utilised 2 different players this season.
Goal contribution table updated and Chicksen and O'Brien find their way onto the table for the first time this season following their assists..
Goal participation by minute detailing player goal contribution efficiency and Jimmy Knowles continues to be the Magpies most effective goal contributor.
Goal scatter chart updated and it goes without saying I had a few issues trying to describe Elisha Sam's wonder goal. Hover over the dots to get goal information.
Finally a word for the manager Neal Ardley who yesterday completed his 100th game in charge of Notts . . . well done Neal!
Next up King's Lynn Town at home in the league on Tuesday night. With both Hartlepool and Stockport winning their games yesterday Notts really do need to put the Linnets to the sword to re-establish their title intentions.
Match preview to follow.