Notts County 3 : 0 Maidenhead United | Vanarama National League | 6th August 2022
Despite never really getting out of first gear an organised if not totally convincing performance saw Notts County secure a comfortable opening day win against a pretty poor Maidenhead.
Macaulay Langstaff provided the 6,300 Notts fans a glimpse of what he might offer this season with two very well taken goals.
Eyebrows were raised when Luke Williams' first competitive starting eleven was announced with the news that Joel Taylor was to play RWB.
As it happens those concerns were somewhat allayed with Taylor putting his name down for goal of the season contender with a thunderous left foot shot after some nice link up play with Sam Austin, but not before leaving the Notts faithful scratching their heads in confusion at the selection and a pretty tame performance up to that point.
Maidenhead offered very little but did have Notts sweating in the first half when Emile Acquah twice got on the end of a through ball's from left back Sam Beckwith only to see his first blocked, and the second roll harmlessly wide.
Adrian Clifton nearly grabbed the visitors a consolation when Adrian Clifton met a low cross from the right only to see his effort wake up the occupants of executive box no3. in the family stand.
There were some very noticeable differences in play under Luke Williams compared to what we had witnessed under his predecessor. Notts still controlled possession but there was clear evidence of a desire to attack the final third as quickly as possible with some direct play.
Additionally there was a massive swing in PPDA and challenge intensity stats with Notts recording a PPDA of just 4.35, last seasons average was double this confirming a high press is very much an integral part of Luke Williams tactical philosophy.
Also worth mentioning that this was coupled with the second highest challenge intensity in the league on Saturday. Another indication of the direct, pressing style of play we can expect from Notts this season.
Onto the stats now and a change up from last season in that the key stats will be provided as a dashboard single image. This should make it easier to digest on a mobile device and easier to save and share on the socials if that's something you want to do, all we ask is that you credit NCS if you do decide to share.
Goals + Assists:
With Tom and Colin now both on board we will be giving our player ratings as and when we are able to do so. Here are the ratings for the Maidenhead game provided by Tom.
Slocombe - 7
An assured opening performance from Slocombe. His distribution was mixed and a couple of nervy moments with the ball at feet, but he collected several crosses, and wasn’t really tested, but when he was he was equal to it. Not active enough to warrant a higher rating, but a good first display.
Brindley - 8
Brinds showed his class, with a composed performance, keeping Maidenhead’s attackers at bay. He Also provided good offensive and defensive support for out of position Joel Taylor, and always looked calm and controlled when in possession.
Baldwin - 7
Defensively Baldwin was superb, his recovery pace snuffing out any legitimate chance Maidenhead were afforded. He kept Acquah quiet, however on the ball he tried, and failed to execute the diagonal to the right flank. Clearly a bit rusty, I was still impressed with Baldwin.
Cameron - 7
The skipper led by example, and was extremely cool when under pressure, always opting to play out from the back. Offensively I felt Cameron could have done better, with a few headed chances going begging. Overall promising signs from Kyle.
Chicksen - 7
As about a typical Chicksen performance as you will get. Worked hard, was steady and hardly put a foot wrong. Was more adventurous once we went 3-0 up, and played a few decent looking crosses into the box. Typical Chicks, you really can’t complain.
Taylor - 7 (8 for the goal)
Playing out of position on the right flank, Joel Taylor acquitted himself well despite being noticeably uncomfortable in his new role. He rarely got involved, and when he did try to take Beckwith on his right foot let him down. However, the goal made all of the above go away. A simply stunning strike, it’ll be hard to top that this season.
Francis - 9
One of Ed Francis’ best performances in a Notts shirt, the midfielder looked assured in the centre, controlling the game and stifling any Maidenhead passes. Barely putting a foot wrong, Francis competed well in the air and on the ground, and he certainly looks more robust than he has previously. A really exciting season lies ahead for Francis.
JOB - 8
Full of energy, O’Brien carried the momentum he built in pre season into the opener. Matched the Maidenhead midfielders for grit and fight, O’Brien also dropped into the space when Cameron made his marauding runs from centre back. Jim showed he’s still a crafty operator which was highlighted in the part he played with Rodrigues in the build up to the first goal.
Austin - 7
A confident first showing for the former Kidderminster captain, and one he is sure to build on. Austin showed flashes of brilliance, and displayed good link up play with Rodrigues and Langstaff. It’s encouraging he already has a good understanding with his team mates, and he has adapted to the new system well.
Rodrigues - 8
A quieter game for Rodrigues, but one he showed his class in nonetheless. He went close on two occasions from free kicks, and used to craft and guile to win set pieces almost at will, drawing fouls from the opposition. He showed his range of passing too, drilling several beautiful looking diagonals out wide. Looked a cut above.
Langstaff - 9
An opening day brace is not a bad way to introduce yourself to the Meadow Lane faithful, and with two clinical finishes Langstaff did just that. The 25 year old forward seems to be flourishing in his new role, as a poacher rather than a wide forward who runs the channels, and Notts fans will be expecting many more from the talisman.
Palmer - 7
Was really good when he came on, quickening the pace of passes, and keeping things tidy in midfield.
Scott - 6
Didn’t see too much of the former Gateshead man in his 15 minute display, but when he did get the ball he looked confident and physical. He replaced Langstaff, so we’re yet to see the duo play together; it will be eagerly anticipated.
Bajrami - N/A
Probably unfair to rate Bajrami, but he had a decent 10 minute cameo. Looked comfortable out there, and it will be interesting to see more of the Albanian youth international.
Gyollai - 6
Asare - 5
De Havilland - 5
Kpekawa - 5
Beckwith - 7
Clerima - 6
Ferdinand - 5
Upward - 5
Arthur - 6
Barratt - 5
Smith - 5
Clifton - 4
So that's 1 down 45 to go and a trip to Boreham Wood up next. The Wood will provide a very different challenge to Luke Williams and his players than the one they faced with Maidenhead.
The Wood kicked the season off with an impressive win at much fancied Southend United. They will be without forward Lee Ndlovu and ex Notts favourite Kelly-Evans at right full back who both saw red in the latter stages of the game.
Either way it will be a big test of just where the current Notts squad sit at this early stage of the season. Look out for our data led preview where we will take a closer look at Boreham Wood and look to identify where Notts might benefit from a tactical perspective.
As always, thanks for reading.