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Preview | Altrincham (h)

Notts return to Meadow Lane after back to back away trips, on which they had mixed fortunes.

The Magpies bounced back with immense force, dominating and dispatching of York 3-1, the same scoreline they had suffered their first defeat against Dorking just a week before.

The trip to York also saw Macaulay Langstaff move onto 12 goals, making him the top scorer in all of English professional football; he will look to extend that this weekend, and against a side who currently sit 23rd you can’t help but feel he has a good chance of doing so.

Altrincham are a side who have surprised a few, but for all the wrong reasons. Until their 1-0 win over Aldershot, the Robins were winless in 9, but the feeling up North is that the win at the weekend could be a turning point for their season. And to be fair to Alty, the performances have been far better than the results;

Altrincham average 55.6% possession, the 3rd highest in the league behind Notts and Solihull. But in this division we often see that ball retention can be quite meaningless, and with just 1 win and 8 points from a possible 30, Phil Parkinson’s men could be the prime example of that.

Altrincham recruited well in the summer, but the effects of moving to full time, a model they adopted last season, are potentially the cause of their down turn in form.

Phil Parkinson Altrincham FC
Phil Parkinson - Unwavering

Current Form:

Altrincham finally managed to get their first win of the season at home to Aldershot on Saturday. This was a game that defined what Alty should be about both as a full time professional team and with the players Phil Parkinson has at his disposal. Despite the winning goal coming from the penalty spot they actually recorded 18 goal attempts with 11 of those on target, however, we should also consider that they played the whole of the second half against 10 men.

The win came off the back of a 4-1 defeat away at Dagenham and a 2-2 draw at home to Scunthorpe, so it's fair to say current form is a little sporadic.

The last 6 games has seen Altrincham pick up just 5 points from a possible 18 having scored 7 and conceded 14 in the process.

Their poor start to the season see's them 23rd in the standings on 8 pts along with Scunthorpe, Halifax and Torquay.

Notts, by contrast bounced back to winning ways at York with the unfathomable defeat at Dorking the only blot on an otherwise perfect last six games, recording 15 pts from a possible 18.

The Magpies have scored in every game so far this season with Chesterfield, Boreham Wood and Eastleigh the only other clubs in the league to achieve this so far.

Altrincham have managed just 2 clean sheets this season, 1 at home to Aldershot on Saturday and the other coming in a very good 0-0 draw away at 5th place Bromley. By contrast Notts have recorded 4 clean sheets.

Looking at the current rankings for key actions Notts are one of the highest ranked in the league for most actions except the long ball. Interestingly Altrincham score highly in possession and deep circulation so will look to playing a passing game. The fact that their ranking drops for territory, wing play and PPDA would suggest that they have struggled to make the most of their possession.


It’s often said about Alty’s star man Ryan Colclough that if he had more end product he would be playing in the EFL, but at the weekend the 27 year old proved he had that quality, scoring the decisive goal from the penalty spot which earned Altrincham their first win of the season.

Colclough is a joy to watch, especially when he has the ball at his feet. He has already attempted 38 more 1v1 dribbles than any other player (Colclough has attempted 109, Ruben Rodrigues is second with 71), and this works out at 10.09 per 90, which he also tops the charts for. He isn’t just about pure dribbling ability though, and in the final third he is sure to be their most dangerous player.

He has taken 40 shots this season, the 2nd most in the league, just 2 less than Notts’ Macaulay Langstaff. This is however is where his end product lets him down; whilst Langstaff has hit the target with 54.76% of his shots, Colclough has only managed to do so with 35% of his. If he were a more accurate shooter not only would he be more threatening, but there’s a good chance Altrincham would have more points too.

Colclough does however have 3 assists to his name, joint 7th highest in the league, and in terms of overall goal contributions he sits joint 11th. Therefore the former Championship operator is undoubtedly Altrincham’s most dangerous player and most likely source of goals this weekend.

Ryan Colclough Altrincham FC
Ryan Colclough - Attacking Threat

There’s a reason Chesterfield were quoted a 6 figure fee for Toby Mullarkey in the summer, as he is one of the finest defenders in the division. A strong defender, Mullarkey is absolutely crucial to Altrincham, and had he left in the summer there’s a good chance they would be even worse off than they are.

Mullarkey has won 64.15% of his defensive duels as well as 64.94% of his aerial duels, figures that are fairly impressive for a defender in a side currently in the relegation zone.

The 26 year old also plays 38.94 passes per 90, 8.21 of which are progressive. That’s the 4th highest amount of passes of any Alty player, and 6th most progressive in their side. He’s important to the way they play in the build up, is an integral part of the defence but it’s at the other end of the pitch where he’s had the most influence this season.

Mullarkey is Alty’s joint top scorer, with 2 goals, and he’s bound to be a threat from set pieces. He’s also shown his versatility this season, filling in at right back when needed, but in his more natural central role he is the first name on the team sheet; in fact we'd go as far to say he’d get into almost any side in the division.

Toby Mullarkey Altrincham FC
Combative - Defender Toby Mullarkey

Voted the Welsh Premier League’s goalkeeper of the year last season, Oliver Byrne looks one of the better keepers in the league.

He was a big miss at the start of the season, where due to administrative issues he was unable to play, but since he has started as the number 1 Altrincham have 5 points from a possible 12, and have only lost once in those 4 games.

Byrne has made the Altrincham backline look more assured, but he does only make 1.15 saves per 90. This means he’s made 5 saves whilst conceding 7, but in fairness to the 24 year old shot stopper this is only from a very small sample, and his clean sheet last weekend was crucial in earning Alty their first 3 points.

Oliver Byrne - Altrincham FC
Shot Stopper - Oliver Byrne

A player our very own Tom Williams highlighted as one of the signings of the season in his National League season preview, EFL quality midfielder Josh Lundstram has hit the ground running at Altrincham.

A central midfielder with an eye for goal, Lundstram has been at the heart of Alty’s side this season, playing every single one of the 987 minutes of action. Lundstram plays a modest 5.74 progressive passes per 90, but whilst he isn’t the most progressive passer he is one of the most active in the league.

The 23 year old plays 42.95 passes per 90, 28th highest in the league, showing he will be heavily involved if Altrincham do try and keep possession against Notts. Lundstram does have a combative side too, and will look to compete with Palmer; he’s won 65.52% of his defensive duels, 9.27% more than Palmer himself has won. Clearly he will be a handful for Notts’ midfield this weekend.

Altrincham Midfielder Josh Lundstram
Busy - Altrincham Midfielder Josh Lundstram

18 year old Aaron Bennett burst onto the scene this season, scoring a tremendous goal against Solihull which not only captured the imagination of National League fans, but also supporters of his parent club Preston North End.

That goal came just a week after his first, a crucial goal against Boreham Wood, and whilst the teenager hasn’t scored since, he is still a threat.

A forward who plays with freedom, probably due to his age, Bennett is an exciting watch, something shown by the fact he plays 0.52 key passes per 90. He also attempts 4.33 1v1 dribbles per 90, a decent number, especially in an Alty side who are struggling.

Bennett has lost his place over recent weeks, making 2 sub appearances from the bench, but if he is introduced with 30 minutes to play he is sure to be a massive threat to the tiring Notts legs. A player to watch this Saturday, and one to watch over the course of the season as a whole.

Aaron Bennett Preston North End Altrincham FC
Aaron Bennett in action for Preston North End


Phil Parkinson is quite stuck on a 4-2-3-1 formation and hasn't wavered from this, suggesting he is quite rigid in trying to make his preferred playing style work.

This means that Marcus Dininga will likely start as the target man with Ryan Colclough just behind him in the middle of an attacking midfield trio.

Josh Lundstram and Elliot Osborne will likely be the two holding midfielders with a back four marshalled by Toby Mullarkey.

Altrincham will look to play out from the back and offer little in the way of a press, with their set up more conducive to dropping into a 4-4-1-1/4-5-1 low block when out of possession.

We are all well aware now of what Luke Williams' teams are all about and the high intensity pressing with have become accustomed to should upset any intentions Phil Parkinson may have for his teams build up play.

Altrincham will be be organised and it wouldn't be a surprise to see them trying to frustrate Notts, looking to capitalise on the counter attack or from set pieces when the opportunity arises.


Altrincham have scored 10 goals this season averaging 1 goal per game but with an xG of 1.26 per game suggesting they have been a little wasteful in front of goal. Only 3 of those goals have been scored on their travels.

Altrincham away form:

P5 | W0 | D2 | L3 | GF 3 | GA 12 | GD -9

They are averaging 11.80 shots per 90 mins with 37.30% of those attempts on target suggesting, along with their xG that they don't create many high value opportunities and should probably more clinical in front of goal.

At the other end of the pitch Alty have faced 10.40 shots per 90 minutes with 34.60% of those shots faced being on target.

By contrast Notts are averaging 2.40 goals per game with an average xG of 2.02 meaning they are still performing better in front of goal than expected.

Defensively Notts are conceding just 1.00 goals per game with an xGC average of 1.21, suggesting Notts remain resilient in defence for the season so far.

Notts are unbeaten at Meadow Lane having won 3 and drawn 1 with a +6 GD. In fact Notts xG at home is currently 1.68 per game, 0.34 less than on the road.

Leading scorers:


Macaulay Langstaff 12 (xG 8.24)


Ryan Colclough 2 (xG 3.60), Toby Mullarkey 2 (xG 1.29), Aaron Bennett 2 (xG 0.47)