The Magpies travelled to Woking on a bank holiday Monday without leading scorer and talisman Kyle Wootton who missed out due to suspension after another inept refereeing display in the home win against Wrexham.
They needn't have worried though as Jimmy Knowles stepped up with a 19 minute second half hattrick to secure what turned out to be a comfortable win despite another questionable first half performance.
Ian Burchnall stuck with the 3-5-2 formation that seems to showing some signs of improving chance creation numbers but it is a system that is likely to increase the number of goal attempts faced as well.
The introduction of Knight in the second half showed exactly what can be achieved when you have runners available ahead of the midfield and he provided the perfect foil to Jimmy Knowles' cool head in front of goal.
Key match stats:
Progress updated and I've swapped the original average line for a logarithmic trend line which better represents progress in league position throughout the season and what the final position might be based on league placings achieved so far. As it stands it suggests a 4th place finish. This is a projection based on what has passed, not a prediction of what might happen.
Results tracker updated and I've now added a line that provides another visualisation for progress throughout the season based on 'win' = 2, 'draw' = 1 and 'loss' = -1.
Points needed and I've now adjusted the targets to represent predicted points totals for the current season. Based on this Notts are currently predicted for a finish in the top 3. You can filter the chart by clicking on the legends at the top.
League segment chart updated. Grey bar shows total points available for that segment. Green bar shows total points gained and yellow bar the PPG for that segment.
The defeat at Dover is still included in this visual (matches 1-6). The win at Woking means Notts secured 11 points in the last 6 game segment so an improvement on the previous segment but needs to improve if a place in the top 3 is to be guaranteed.
Points by time segment. How many points would have been accumulated if games had finished at 15, 30, 45, 60, 75 and 90 minutes.
The pattern continues to show Notts tend to get stronger in the second half of games. The Dover points have not been included in this analysis.
Onto player stats now and remember you can use the search function to see individual players or click on a column heading to sort highest to lowest etc.
Minutes played updated:
Goal contribution table updated. Again, you can find this on the website and sort columns etc.
Goal participation by minute detailing player goal contribution efficiency.
Jimmy Knowles did his contribution stats the power of good with his hattrick against Woking. I awarded a controversial assist to Lewis Knight from the Woking game.
Goals scatter chart updated. Starting to see a few more dots outside the box.
Goals by time segment updated.
Moving onto xG stats for the Woking game and Notts recorded an expected goals rating of more than 2.00 for the first time since the 3-0 win at home to Wealdstone 21 games previous.
The real positive from this is that Notts have somehow managed to sustain a play off place for a considerable amount of time with a particularly low xG factor. With a more attacking outlook this can only be a good thing as we reach the business end of the season.
Breakdown below of the key xG stats. A reminder that the penalty is not included in the xG match ratings but we do use it to help calculate xPTS.
Player xG stats below and other than the goals Reeves had a big chance with a header on 50 mins. Jimmy Knowles had 3 attempts and scored 3 goals for a 100% conversion rate and a total xG of 1.36 which further confirms he accurate finishing for his goals.
Ian Burchnall's record updated which looks a bit better now albeit after only 4 games.
Preview | Hartlepool (a) | Vanarama National League | 17:20
Saturday 10th April 2021 | Victoria Park
Another televised game against another promotion rival in just over a week.
Notts should be heading up the A1 full of confidence after maxing out with 6 points out of 6 over the Easter period but Hartlepool offer very different opposition as the team with the best home form in the league face the team with the best away form.
Recent form radar and despite Hartlepool's lofty position the number of games played means their PPG, attack and defence stats are very similar to that of Notts with the biggest disparity being home form where Notts have a lot of work to do.
Goals for/against by time segment for Hartlepool suggests they are at their most dangerous either side of half time.
xG for Hartlepool who are now unbeaten in 13 games. That said that includes 7 draws and in the games won in that period none of them have been by more than a single goal.
Their xG has been slowly growing which suggests they are creating plenty of chances but not making the most of them.
Hartlepool's expected and actual points are so well aligned it means they are very much one of the most consistent teams in the league. What this means is we can have a pretty good guess now at what their final points tally for the season will be based on their PPG because their xPTS has been pretty much on an identical trajectory. With this in mind they are looking good for circa 75 points.
Season xG and xPTS for Notts updated and the four goals against Woking means the gap between expected and actual goals increases slightly but at least we do see a small uptick in xG. As mentioned in the Woking report earlier the good news is the xG for that game was the highest for a very long time and provides some hope for the last dozen or so matches.
Notts continue to secure more points than expected but if the Woking performance can be continued the xPTS line will start to catch up with the actual line meaning good results should be easier to achieve.
Bookies appear to have Hartlepool as favourites at 6/5 with Notts at 2/1 for the away win. You can get circa 12/5 on the draw.
Based on these odds Notts have a 33% chance of winning and Hartlepool 42%.
Last time out Notts lost to Hartlepool at home by a single goal in a game that saw Ben Turner receive his marching orders for a high tackle. Notts also lost the corresponding fixture at Victoria Road last season by two goals to nil so will be hoping to make amends in front of the BT cameras.
Kyle Wootton will no doubt be back in the starting eleven at the expense of Elisha Sam, which would likely be the same as the starting line up at Woking.
It sounds like Cal Roberts is looking good again for some minutes and it will be interesting to see if him and Knight get the chance to terrorise the Hartlepool back line at some point.
I know I said this about the Woking game but this encounter has all the makings of a very close and nervy affair, Hartlepool unbeaten at home in 11 games and Notts unbeaten away in their last 10.
If Notts could sneak the win it would be one of the biggest results of the season and one that would certainly see the Magpies putting down a very big marker in the promotion race.
Don't forget its a 17:20pm kick off. I'll be watching . . . but from behind the sofa!