The BT Sport camera's are back at the Lane again on Saturday with a later than usual kick-off time of 5.20pm for the National League encounter between Notts and Bromley.
Bromley’s 2-1 win against Eastleigh on Saturday saw them return to their familiar wing back system, and to good effect. Boss Andy Woodman had tried a new 4 at the back formation against Dagenham, due to the absence of key central defenders Chris Bush and Omar Sowunmi, but this clearly didn’t work as Bromley were put to the sword by a side who themselves were well beaten by Notts a week later.
In all fairness to Bromley, they did have 18 year old Zak Bradshaw in defence, and a week later Callum Reynolds and Sowunmi returned to the side which allowed them to return their familiar 3 at the back system.
Assuming he has the players available you would expect Woodman to employ his favoured 3 at the back against Notts, and it’s clearly a system they are suited to.
In the last 5 games where they have actually played with their preferred system they have kept 4 clean sheets and only conceded the 1 goal at home to Eastleigh. They also picked up 13 points from a possible 15 during these 5 games, so they will be a trickier proposition than the Dagenham defeat suggests.
Despite that unusual defeat to Dagenham, Bromley find themselves sat 8th in the league and just 2 points behind Notts.
Notts decent run of results means they currently lie 3rd in the table and in a good position to keep the pressure on Chesterfield and Wrexham. In fact if Notts are victorious on Saturday it will be the first time they have strung together 4 wins in a row since being on that great run of form in the curtailed Covid season of 2019/20.
Bromley shape up well in the team actions rankings, but Notts still remain dominant in most actions.
Charts combined below:
Up until a few days before the season kicked off Bromley were without a senior goalkeeper, so the signing of Grenada international Reice Charles-Cook was something of a necessity.
Charles-Cook had played for Bromley before, and his return was seen by many at the time as a stop gap signing, but the 6'1" keeper has acquitted himself really well, keeping 4 clean sheets in 7 games, a divisional high.
Charles-Cook also makes 3.33 saves per 90, 1.62 more than Sam Slocombe. He also has a 75% save percentage, which is considerably higher than Slocombe’s 68.42%. Context is important though; Slocombe has only faced 19 shots, 13 less than Charles-Cook, so he may have made more saves had it been required.
It is the Grenadian’s distribution which is the real highlight of his game statistically though. Charles-Cook completes 90.82% of his progressive passes, 4th highest in the league and 2nd when it comes to goalkeepers. He’s also played 98 passes that are considered progressive, the 3rd highest, showing that not only is Charles-Cook a progressive distributor, but he’s also an accurate one. This of course is dictated by Bromley’s style of play, but they clearly have a very capable keeper between the sticks.
Bromley will be without the services of key defender Chris Bush, who is still serving a three match ban he received as a result of a straight red against Scunthorpe. Bush is a key player in and out of possession for Bromley, as not only is the 6'3" Bush a good defender, he also plays 14.04 progressive passes per 90, the 5th highest in the division. In his absence 26 year old behemoth Omar Sowunmi has really stepped up, and the 6'6" central defender is a key man for the Ravens. He may have only won 58% of his aerial duels but he’s still a massive threat from set pieces, and he already has a goal to his name this season; Cameron, Baldwin & co will have to be extremely careful when defending dead ball situations.
No player in the National League has played more key passes than Bromley’s Harry Forster, with the RWB recording 11, 5 more than Ruben Rodrigues in 2nd. He also has the best ratio too; he has played 1.62 key passes per 90, 0.54 more than the next best (Tom Allan of Gateshead). What do these stats tell us? That Forster is Bromley’s chief creative outlet, and that their most dangerous attacks usually come down the right hand side.
He will be up against Chicksen, who will have to be at his best to stop the attacking wing back. He actually matches up fairly well with Nemane too; Forster makes 4.42 crosses per 90 (12th) to Nemane’s 5.6 (6th), and he makes 5.45 1v1 dribbles per 90 (24th) to Nemane’s 5.39 (26th). Clearly the two are well matched, so it will be fascinating to see which wing back will have a bigger impact on the game.
In midfield Bromley are blessed with one of the finest young players in the league, James Vennings.
Most commonly deployed to the right of the midfield 3, Vennings is extremely well rounded, protecting the back 3 when Forster pushes forward from RWB. Vennings has won a remarkable 75.76% of his defensive duels, showing how well he does keep Bromley’s defence protected. He’s also key to Bromley’s build up play; Vennings plays 42.7 passes per 90, more than any other Bromley player bar Bush, who as previously mentioned is suspended. Most of the play comes through Vennings, and he’s also key in breaking up the play, and recovering the ball for his side.
Vennings also plays 0.46 smart passes per 90, a more than decent return considering he isn’t the sides main creator. Vennings is also an extremely accurate progressive passer; he completes 91.89% of his progressive passes, the 2nd highest in the league, and top for any outfield players. In short, Vennings is a well rounded midfielder, one who is full of energy and has plenty of time to improve; he will be a handful for Palmer and his midfield partner.
The strike partnership of Michael Cheek and Adam Marriott had the second highest combined xG per shot, 0.42, second only to Chesterfield’s Tshimanga and Quigley, 0.46. The duo also scored 18 goals each last season for a combined 36, the highest combined total of any strike partnership that lines up this season. So the fact that Woodman has finally decided to play the pair together probably spells bad news for the rest of the division.
Marriott led Bromley’s comeback at home to Eastleigh last Saturday, scoring a brace to inspire a 2-1 win. Between them the pair have 4 goals this season, and the they seem to have complimentary attributes. Marriott is 5'9", and is very much a striker who can finish, whereas Cheek is a more complete forward, and at 6'1" has more imposing physical attributes. The pair will be a handful for Notts’ defence; then again we said the same last week about Morias and McCallum, and they barely troubled Slocombe or his back line.
As mentioned earlier Woodman likes to play with a back 3 and they have been at their most effective when playing this system.
Assuming they start with 2 up front with Cheek and Marriott spearheading the attack expect to see them set up with a 3-4-1-2 which can transition to a 3-5-2 mid/low block when out of possession.
Notts have the creativity in midfield to unpick the Bromley defensive lines and look to get the wingbacks in behind. Despite the clean sheets, in the games where Bromley have conceded Charles-Cook in goal has looked reluctant to leave his line so good use of the wide spaces is an area where Notts could take advantage.
Notts also have pace in attack, particularly with Nemane and Langstaff which again is something the Bromley defence might struggle with.
Bromley are averaging 1.14 goals per 90 mins with an xG of 1.83 suggesting they are creating chances with a slightly higher value but not necessarily taking advantage of them.
They are averaging 14.14 shots per 90 but only 31.30% of those are on target, another indication of not making the most of their chances.
Defensively Bromley have faced an average 9.43 shots with 43.90% of those on target.
They currently concede an average 1.14 goals per 90 mins with an xCG average of 1.32 suggesting they are pretty resolute at the back. In fact if you take away the anomaly defeat at Dagenham they are conceding just 0.80 goals per 90 mins.
By contrast Notts are averaging 2.57 goals per 90 mins with an average xG of 1.83 from 15 shots per 90.
At the other end Notts are conceding just 0.86 goals per 90 with an xCG average of just 1.06 which clearly indicates a continuous defensive improvement game by game.
As expected Notts are favourites with the bookies where you can currently get 7/10 for the home win.
Bromley are coming in at 4/1 for the away win and 11/4 for the draw.
Bromley are a very good outfit at this level and the heavy defeat to Dagenham should be ignored considering they were lightweight in squad availability and having to play a system that may not have been particularly familiar with.
Cheek and Marriott will make a nuisance of themselves but if Notts can approach this game with the same energy and press we have seen in recent games then Bromley's attacking threat might find themselves having to drop deeper to get any involvement in the game.
That said Bromley are a big team and they will be very dangerous from set pieces so Sam Slocombe will need to be assertive in controlling balls into his box.
Ultimately Notts have the firepower, creativity and defensive resilience to control this game, win the 3 points and look forward to a very winnable game at home to Aldershot on Tuesday evening.
For Notts County Stats:
Richard Ogando - @notts_stats
Tom Williams - @tomhwilliams23
Colin Sisson - @colin_sisson
Andy Woodman - Kent Online
Reice Charles-Cook - BBC
Harry Forster - Twitter
James Vennings - South London Press
Betting odds and score predictions are only used as another means to assess current form and sporting industry expectations of possible result. Notts County Stats do not endorse any form of gambling.