Back to back draws have seen Notts lose their top spot, so a return to winning ways would be much welcomed for the Magpies. However, if they were looking for an easy task, away at Eastleigh is not it, as the Spitfires are unbeaten at home this season, a record they’re unlikely to want to relinquish this Saturday. manager Lee Bradbury has moulded a side who are very much built on defensive stability, and the Spitfires also have several players who have real quality, ones who often provide moments of magic to win games.
Eastleigh have the 3rd best home record of any side in the league, but Notts have the best away record, so it’s likely to be a close contest, one which could go down to the wire. Whilst both sides are solid, with Notts conceding 17 and Eastleigh 21, the visitors very much have the advantage in terms of firepower. They have scored more than double the amount of goals as their hosts (47 to 23) so if either side is likely to grab a winner you’d have to back the visitors.
Eastleigh currently find themselves in 6th place in the current form table for last 6 league games with 4 wins and 2 defeats recording 12 points from a possible 18.
Despite putting 5 goals past Maidstone on Tuesday night they had only scored 5 in the previous 5 league games conceding 7 in the process.
Despite drawing the last two games Notts are currently 9 games unbeaten in the league and are currently second only to Wrexham in the last 6 league game form table with 14 points from a possible 18.
Eastleigh don't actually do a great deal of anything other than pressing the opposition as displayed by their PPDA stats below. They do manage to get a decent number of crosses in which is something Notts will need to be wary of.
Former Magpie Joe McDonnell was the losing keeper in the playoff final last season, but since his return to Eastleigh he has been very solid. He has a very decent 70.4% save percentage, with 50 saves to his name already this season, slightly higher than Slocombe’s 68.5%, showing he is a capable shot stopper.
It’s his distribution which impresses most though, with the 28 year old completing 88.02% of his progressive passes, the 6th highest in the league. This is far higher than Slocombe’s 79.19%, showing how impressive the Spitfires keeper is with the ball at his feet. He also plays 10.77 long passes per 90, 16th most in the league, so McDonnell is likely to be key to the way they build from the back too.
Eastleigh have a very solid backline, and despite the absence of young defender Corey Panter, they have remained resolute, with the 5th lowest xG against in the league.
The standout performer of this backline is Brennan Camp, a 22 year old right back who is effective at both ends of the pitch. Camp will look to deliver crosses from deep, but he also isn’t afraid to get to the by-line, crossing 3.16 times per match, a fairly high number.
Defensively he is solid, representative of the whole of Eastleigh’s backline. Camp wins 65.66% of his defensive duels, impressive for a full back, and he also wins a decent 53.85% of his battles in the air.
Camp is 5' 11", and has at times played in the centre of defence, so he will be well suited to dealing with Nemane’s crosses to the back post. He will be aware of the threat of Chicksen attacking the back post, and has the tools to be able to deal with him too.
Another player to look out for on Saturday afternoon is exciting winger Oscar Rutherford, who is enjoying his first season in senior football. The 18 year old joined Eastleigh from Plymouth in the summer, and since he has been an exciting watch down the right hand side, where he looks to use his pace and energy to cause the opposition problems.
Rutherford has started to the right of midfield in the last 3 games, and his pace and trickery caused Maidstone all sorts of problems last time out. He’s one to watch down the flanks.
Finally no player has scored more free kicks than Danny Whitehall this season, so the 27 year old forward is likely to pose a threat from all over the pitch.
The forward has 6 goals to his name and is Eastleigh’s top scorer, so if the hosts are to score it’s likely to be Whitehall. He isn’t the most active shooter, taking 2.82 per 90, but he’s fairly accurate, hitting the target with 50% of strikes, so it’s likely he will test Slocombe at some point on Saturday.
At 6' 3" he is a real aerial presence, so it’s understandable that of his 32 shots 10 have been headers. In the air he wins just 32.14% of his headers, but for a striker this is around par.
Eastleigh will look to get the ball into Whitehall, either in the air or to feet, and he’s certainly their most dangerous player going forward.
As alluded to earlier Eastleigh like to press their opponents and will look to this to create opportunities to capitalise on any lost or second ball.
Lee Bradbury has predominantly favoured a back four with any combination of 4-2-3-1 or 4-4-1-1 as this enables them to defend in a 4-5-1 mid-low block when out of possession.
In attack they will most likely start with Tristan Abrahams up front with Whitehall just behind as the advanced attacking midfielder. This also allows them to switch between a 4-2-3-1 and 4-4-2 depending on how play is panning out.
With Notts likely to stick with the 3-4-2-1 we have become accustomed to it will be interesting to see if Eastleigh will be prepared to try and take the game to Notts or just look to press and contain as much as possible. Either way, if Notts can snuff out the press they should have enough quality going forward to create some good goal scoring chances whilst nullifying the Eastleigh threat from lost balls, especially down the flanks.
Eastleigh find themselves just outside the play-off's in 8th place and have scored 23 goals in 18 league games meaning they average 1.28 goals per game. This is compared to an average xG of 1.40 goals per game so are probably lacking in a bit of quality in front of goal.
At the other end of the pitch they are conceding 1.17 goals per game with an xCG of just 1.02 suggesting they have conceded a few more goals than they maybe should have.
Eastleigh's form at the Silverlake this season is identical to Notts with 7 wins and 2 draws from 9 games, scoring 16 goals in the process and conceding just 6 so there is a big discrepancy between their home and away form this season.
Eastleigh Home Form:
P 9 | W 7 | D 2 | L 0 | F 16 | A 6 | GD +10 | PTS 23
Notts top the away table so far with 18 points from a possible 27, scoring 27 and conceding 13.
Macaulay Langstaff - 18 (xG 15.07)
Callum Powell - 6 (xG 4.38)
The bookies have been a bit lazy making Notts favourites with 7/10 the best you can currently get for a Magpies win.
There is better value if you fancy the home win with 10/3 currently on offer for the Eastleigh win and you can get 3/1 for the draw.
Based on these odds Notts expected win% is 59%, however, historically they have won 74% of their games at these odds.
Eastleigh have a 23% win expectancy but historically win 33% of their games at these odds.
With three very winnable games to follow this one it wouldn't be the worst result to come away with a point from a ground where no one is yet to leave victorious this season.
That said, you would expect Luke Williams will want his team to put down another marker and get back to winning ways after two back to back draws.
Full stats report to follow after the game.
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