Hartlepool 2 - 0 Notts County
Featherstone 47', 58'
A weekend in the North East The Magpies will want to forget.
This was Notts' 7th defeat on the road in the league this season and are now without an away league win since 28 December and the 1-0 victory at Solihull.
Key match stats don't make for great reading with Notts second best in every area.
Notts' PPG has dropped slightly again to 1.50 and now sees a season total prediction of 69 points, 6 points adrift of the 75 point target.
There was a possibility that a defeat could see Notts drop as low as 10th but managed to hang onto 7th place thanks to results elsewhere and a slightly superior, although slowly deminishing goal difference.
Points needed for third place remains 77 points and Barrow are still predicted to finish first on 88 points.
Current PPG for 7th is predicting 69 points but it's beginning to look like goal difference will play a big part.
Below are results trackers for both home and away. It's clear to see away form has held Notts back this season, especially against clubs below Notts in the league and remarkably the victories all coming against teams either above us or challenging us for a play off place.
19 Points on the road compared to 32 points gained at Meadow Lane. Away goal difference is now zero and PPG has dropped to 1.19 which is the same as the current league average.
Notts drop a place to 7th which is slightly above their average for the last 12 games. Average for the season as a whole is still hovering around 11th.
From a positive point of view if you compare Notts' last 12 games to first 12 games of the season then there is a definite improvement with the first 12 games seeing an average position of just 16th.
Season stats after this weekend's matches vs the NL average.
Goals scored/conceded by time segment.
Moving onto player stats and minutes played all competitions for the season. Michael Doyle was back after suspension and new loanee Adam Long got a start at the expense of Pierce Bird. Another 45 minutes for Jim O'Brien who replaced Kristian Dennis at half time.
Unfortunately due to not scoring at Hartlepool those that played see an increase in their goal involvement minutes.
Kyle Wootton continues to be the clubs top goal contributor with 15 goals and 3 assists in all competitions.
Kristian Dennis remains the most efficient striker taking 145 mins to score a goal or a goal every 1.61 games.
Attacking efficiency is again detailed in the visualisation below showing how efficient Notts have been in front of goal away from home in the league this season. Each marker represents the the number of shots taken and the number of shots needed to score a goal.
The Hartlepool game, like Eastleigh and Chesterfield before them are difficult to plot due to no goals being scored so have positioned them accoring to shots on goal. In the 1-0 defeat at Chesterfield earlier in the season we were actually quite threatening but unable to convert any chances, at Hartlepool and Eastleigh less so.
I'm currently looking at how to inprove this analysis as it only really works if a goal is scored. Unfortunately there is a distinct lack of xG data available at National League level so still trying to be a bit creative with this!
Whilst defensive resilience has been a feature of Notts' home performances the same can't necessarily be said for the majaroty of away games. Hartlepool managing to score twice with 14 attempts at goal. By comparison Harrogate had the same number of attempts (including a missed penalty) but failed to get on the scoresheet.
Looking at current form over the last 10 games still looks pretty positive for Notts in 4th place with 18 points.
Having updated current league totals and last 10 form for the top 10 clubs the latest possible league table finishes are posted below.
Yeovil continue to slip with another defeat on saturday and find themselves without a win in 6 games. Obviously this is good for Notts as it is looking like Yeovil could drop to seventh over the next couple of weeks if their current form continues.
Dover have now firmly planted themselves in the top 7 and judging by current form can expect to stay there. Form for Solihull, Bromley and Stockport is indifferent at best and it is likely that any of these three could lose out with Hartlepool in decent form and Barnet not far behind and with a few games in hand.
Notts' form in the last 10, if maintained could see a top 5 finish and at worst should be enough to secure a play off spot.
On to Fylde away on tuesday night who are now 11 league games without a win and have lost 4 of their last 6 in the league.
Sitting 23rd in the league last seasons play off finalists and Trophy winners appear to be having a torrid time.
Fylde's last 6 games:
P6 | W0 | D2 | L4 | GF 7 | GA 14 | Pts 2
Notts are down to 11th in last 6 form table:
P6 | W2 | D2 | L2 | GF 6 | GA 6 | Pts 8
A win for Notts will see a jump up to 5th in the table on goal difference over Yeovil. A draw will mean staying 7th but defeat could mean a drop down to 8th if Barnet win at home to Dagenham.
Not much to choose between the two clubs with the bookies which would be indicative of Notts' slight drop in form over the last few games and Fylde's home advantage regardless of their current poor form.
Take a point anyone?
Cover pic @DanWestwell