Preview | Dorking Wanderers (h)
Only two sides have beaten Notts all season, and one of those, Dorking Wanderers, come to Meadow Lane in the late kick off, providing the Magpies a chance to avenge that defeat. Snow and temperatures well below freezing have cast doubts over whether the game will go ahead, but with just 10 games left Notts will be keen to avoid any fixture congestion. The BT Sport cameras will also be in town, with the visitors looking to cause a huge upset.
Dorking boss Marc White has been extremely complimentary about this Notts side, proclaiming they are the best in the league. That won’t stop his side approaching the game in a positive manner, and the Wanderers are likely to have a real go at Meadow Lane; it’s the only way they know how to play. In many ways Dorking are an unpredictable outfit, and at times they do look like they are improvising. This makes it hard to prepare against, something which may give the visitors a slight edge. They have the element of surprise.
Two wins in the last six for Dorking, in fact 2 wins in the last 10 league games gives an indication of the kind of form that has seen them tumble towards a relegation scrap. That said they have been in better form of late and showing signs of improvement.
As mentioned earlier Dorking are a team that only know one way to play and that is further confirmed by the playing style radars below. Dorking come second only to Notts for ball possession, deep circulation and wing play. Add to this they score highly for pressing (PPDA) and challenge intensity that provides us with an indication that Notts certainly won't have it all there own way.
Tactics & Players:
There are some things that remain constant throughout Dorking’s play which we are able to analyse. Firstly, Dorking’s team shape seems fairly consistent. Dorking have most commonly operated with a 3-5-2 system, with extremely attacking wing backs who get up the pitch in order to provide width and attacking threat. They also leave their front 2 high up the pitch, looking to commit as many bodies into the final third as possible. This shape reflects Notts in many regards, and there should be opportunities for Notts to dominate the 1v1 matchups all over the park.
Another thing that will be fascinating is which side will dominate possession; as mentioned above this is a battle between the 2 sides who average the most possession this season. Notts have averaged a massive 69.1%, and despite the fact Dorking are 2nd, they are some way behind on 57.7%. We know how Notts like to play, and the quality they have on the ball, especially at home. This may present a unique challenge to Dorking, who are used to having most of the ball. They will have to shift their game, chasing the ball far more than they are used to, and this could unsettle the hosts. Their fitness levels may be called into question, especially as they are a part time side, and Notts should look to use their superior quality to stretch Dorking’s shape all over the Lane.
Additionally, Dorking do not have the defensive organisation or structure to come to Meadow Lane and defend deep as other sides have. They will not get the same success in this way, as simply put, they are not good enough defensively. Despite having one of the league’s better keepers in Dan Lincoln, Dorking have conceded a massive 78 goals; only bottom side Maidstone have conceded more, 79. There are clear vulnerabilities there, and Notts should have no issues creating goalscoring opportunities. This is further evidenced by the fact Dorking have the 3rd worst xG against, 64.48, and Notts have the best xG for, 77.05. Clearly Notts are excellent at creating goalscoring opportunities, and Dorking seem to concede an awful lot of those too.
And despite the fact Dorking see so much of the ball, they actually take very few shots. Notts rank 1st for shot, but Dorking are all the way down in 18th. In fact, they’ve only taken 1 more shot than Maidenhead who average the least possession in the league. This shows that while they keep the ball, they aren’t necessarily that effective with it, especially in the final third. In fact, Dorking are seen as a side that try and outscore their opponents, but of late even their goals have dried out. They’ve scored 7 in their last 10 games; they had scored 43 in the 25 before that.
All that being said, like any side that comes to Meadow Lane, Dorking will be motivated. They’ve already beaten Notts once this season, and they will believe they can cause an upset again. They gave Wrexham a very tough game recently at the Racecourse, so they aren’t afraid of travelling to the bigger sides. They’re also in good form; last time out they beat Barnet 2-1, a side who sit in 5th, and that means the Wanderers made it 2 games without defeat, the first time they’ve done that in 2023. However, if Notts play the way we know they can they should have no issues dispatching of this Dorking side, no matter how spirited they are. There are clear weaknesses for Notts to exploit, and you’d expect the Magpies to take full advantage on Saturday evening.
Ball playing defender Dan Gallagher (pictured) was rewarded for his fine season with an England C call up, and he will face off against potential future teammate Macaulay Langstaff on Saturday afternoon. The older brother of England international Connor Gallagher, the Dorking man has transitioned into the centre of defence from midfield, explaining his strength on the ball. Gallagher plays 49.48 passes per 90, more than any other Dorking player, and 15th most in the division as a whole. The 25 year old has undeniable quality on the ball, and is clearly instrumental to the way Dorking build up. He’s more involved than any other player, and at the heart of their defence he is crucial to build up. We will find out how press resistant he is on Saturday afternoon, as Langstaff is unlikely to give him an easy afternoon, looking to harry the defender at any given opportunity. It’s also a big chance for the 25 year old to play his way into Paul Fairclough’s final 16 man squad, so expect him to be motivated.
The arrival of the vastly experienced George Francomb not only looks to be a shrewd signing, but one that has settled a side in free fall. Since his arrival Dorking have turned things round, and in their last 5 have only lost to Boreham Wood and Wrexham, the division’s sides with the longest unbeaten runs, and have also picked up 7 points in that period. Francomb’s influence has been instrumental, as has his versatility. Francomb has played at the base of midfield, but also at right back, and his extensive career in the EFL with the likes of AFC Wimbledon and Crawley gives him plenty of experience to draw from. He’s a clever operator, one who can influence a game, and having a player of his quality gives Dorking a real boost. He’s also in fine form, as he ultimately netted the winner last time out against Barnet. A player who is quickly establishing himself as a fan favourite, Francomb could enhance that reputation with a big performance at Meadow Lane.
Last time the two sides met attacking midfielder James McShane netted a hattrick. While Notts fans will be wary of a repeat, we believe Dorking’s main goal threat is 27 year old Ryan Seager. At 5ft 9" Seager (pictured) is a fairly diminutive forward, but one who really comes alive in the box. He’s quick, especially in his reactions, and if Dorking are to get box entries he’s likely to be dangerous. He plays alongside a larger foil, usually Harry Ottaway or Jason Prior, and forms an old fashioned ‘big man little man’ type partnership. Seager is a talented finisher, seeing his strikes hit the back of the net on 11 occasions this season. This isn’t a one off; he bagged 27 last term at the same level Langstaff and Scott were plying their trade. Those 3 are also the most accuracy strikers in the league, with Scott hitting the target with 65.22% of his shots, Seager with 56.36% and Langstaff in third with 50.39%. If the ball falls to Seager in the box expect him to, at the very least, test Tiernan Brooks in goal.
Dorking currently sit 19th in the league on 37 points from 35 games averaging 1.06 points per game.
On the road Dorking haven't had the best season winning just 2 in 17 games and losing 12 of those in the process.
In attack they are averaging a creditable 1.45 goals per game compared to an xG of 1.38 so performing pretty much as expected.
Defensively they are conceding 2.30 goals per game with an xCG of 1.95 which suggests they falling a bit short when it comes to protecting their own goal, something we've alluded to earlier.
Dorking Away Form:
P 17 | W 2 | D 3 | L 12 | F 20 | A 42 | GD -22 | PTS 9
Macaulay Langstaff - 33 (xG 27.14)
James McShane - 17 (xG 11.86)
It will be no surprise to see that Notts are very much the bookies favourites, so much so that the best you can get at time of writing for the home is is 33/100 with 10Bet.
Coral are offering 22/1 for the away win and you can get 31/4 for the draw with BWin.
Based on these odds there is a 88.50%% chance of a Notts win and 4.35% chance of a Dagenham win.
Notts will be desperate to get their title challenge back on track but will come up against a Dorking side who will be pretty much all out attack. Essentially expect Notts to have the lions share of the ball against a good ball playing Dorking but the threat to Notts will be the loss of ball possession in the attacking phases, something that saw the Magpies punished last time out at Meadow Lane.
Either way it should be a humdinger of a game for the Neutrals tuning into the BT Sport coverage.
As always thanks for reading.
Full stats report to follow.
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