Updated: Nov 23
Regular readers will know I tend to try and take a positive approach to my reports regardless of the score but I have to confess to being a little more than frustrated with the way this game was allowed to play out.
Notts decided to fulfill the fixture despite having 4 key players test positive for Covid-19 just 24 hours earlier. Neal Ardley tried to remain positive in his pre-match interview declaring that it shouldn't affect things as he has faith in every player in the squad to be able to come in and do a job. He also cited that the club essentially had a moral obligation to field a team for the integrity of the sport.
I think this was the right thing to do and you have to praise the current ownership for the way they try to conduct business as a club, unfortunately the players that took to the pitch on Saturday, for whatever reason, were just not up to the job and in hindsight, for me the decision to play the game would no doubt have had a commercial influence due to the revenue coming in from the live stream subscriptions, and you can't really fault the club in that respect.
With that in mind you then have to wonder how much of an input Ardley had in the decision and to be fair to him he would have no other option than to publicly show his trust in his players because to do otherwise in my view just wouldn't be acceptable.
The missing players meant there were starts for Rodrigues and Knowles up front whilst McCrory and Chicksen came in for the absent Brindley and Kelly-Evans whilst Boldewijn slotted into the left of a 3 man midfield recently occupied by O'Brien.
With both Brindley and Kelly-Evans missing it really did leave Notts at sixes and sevens at the back as McCrory, who already struggles with his own fitness and only has one foot had to slot in at right back and Chicksen put in a display at left back that left you wondering if he was still suffering the affects of his illness from the previous week.
However, it didn't stop there, the two centre backs looked a shadow of the pairing they were last season, Wootton looked visibly sluggish and Boldewijn put in the kind of performance that would indicate why he hasn't been getting a regular start this season.
The goals conceded were all to familiar and put me in mind of the defeat at home to Newport in the relegation season where our inability to defend at set pieces against big high pressing teams still appears to have been unaddressed.
That said we can still take some positives from the game. It was great to see young Knowles getting his account underway with a smart finish after a very nice phase of play. The Mansfield loanee worked tirelessly throughout and despite a few cases of bad decision making when in possession he set a very good account of himself.
Additionally Rodrigues took his goal very well and is now starting to show signs of his ability and how that should benefit the club as the season progresses, assuming they manage to keep him fit.
There was of course one game changing moment where double goal scorer for Maidenhead Barratt should have seen red for a second bookable offence. That would have without doubt changed the whole dynamic of the game. With all the talk of no fans at games perhaps this is a clear example of where noisy terraces play a part and the ref may have been more inclined to go for her pocket if there were 5,000 home fans screaming in indignation at the offence, demanding the requisite punishment.
That said, there was enough experience on the pitch from a Notts perspective to safely see the game out and it is extremely disappointing that as the game progressed they looked less likely to do so.
Anyway, moving on and here are the key match stats:
Minutes played chart updated and Neal Ardley has now utilised 18 of his 23 man squad of which 4 players have played every minute of the first 5 games.
Jimmy Knowles and Ruben Rodrigues get their names on the goal scorers table. Kyle Wootton remains top scorer and the most efficient with a goal every 1.20 games.
Goal contribution by minutes played updated which sees Jimmy Knowles maintain his position at the top the current chart having participated in a goal every 57 minutes.
Goals + Assists table updated
Moving onto xG for the match and some quite damning data to digest. Maidenhead's expected goals for the whole game was actually just 0.48 yet they managed to score 3 as well as not having a single attempt on goal after the 68th minute. Mind you Notts didn't threaten the Maidenhead goal at all between the 30th and 80th minutes.
Points needed and with 5 games played Notts have a PPG of 1.80 which would see a return of approx. 79 points over 44 games.
The results tracker above shows results home and away, PPG and goal difference.
Obviously very early days but with real expectation to be top of the table before the league breaks up for the FA Cup next weekend the defeat sees a frustrating drop to 7th place.
Goal time segments:
All 10 of Notts' goals so far have come from open play with 7 inside the 18 yard box and 3 goals from outside the box.
By contrast 3 of the 7 goals conceded have come from set pieces and 2 of those from corners.
Attacking and defending efficiencies (home) updated below.
Notts have been relatively languid in attack for the last two home games whilst defensive resilience has worsened at home game by game.
Ruben Rodrigues just about edged it in what were below average ratings all around. Kyle Wootton maintains his top spot.
Neal Ardley's record updated:
So a break from league action on Saturday with a trip to East Anglia in the FA Cup 4th qualifying round against National League newcomers Kings Lynn Town. It will be interesting to see how this weeks bout of Covid-19 testing turns out and whether or not a full team can be fielded. Failure to fulfill the tie will mean no further involvement in this seasons competition.
Until next time.