Preview | FC Halifax Town (a)
Straight off the back of two defeats Notts have an early opportunity to nip any ideas of a poor run in the bud when they travel to Halifax on Tuesday night.
The Shaymen have had a decent start to the season but also have two losses on their record so far, one of those away to Yeovil where Notts go on Saturday.
We will start as usual with the key actions per 90 minutes comparison:
Halifax are not too dissimilar to Notts in that they like to try and play out from the back. That said they still like to move it forward quickly.
Up until their 0 - 0 draw away at Barnet on Saturday they appeared to have found a winning formula in a 4-2-3-1 formation.
This really suited in form striker Billy Waters who has managed to convert 7 times so far this season. But having watched back some video what really stood out for me was the role played by Matt Warburton who was a summer signing from Northampton Town.
Halifax have had success with Warburton sat in the middle of the 3 behind Waters. When the Shaymen press high it has been a feature that Warburton has been relatively successful with recoveries in the opponents half. This is something you would really want to see from your number 10 and he backs this up with a pretty high percentage of successful passes into the final third, often out to the flanks.
Despite Waters obvious goal threat Warburton was going to be my one to watch this game but it seems he missed out at Barnet through injury and reports suggest he looks doubtful for Tuesday night.
With Halifax coming away from an improving Barnet with a 0 - 0 draw you do wonder just how much impact the loss of Warburton has had on the Yorkshire outfit.
One of the things to take into consideration is Halifax's current xG which is currently 1.17 per 90 minutes compared to an actual goals scored of 1.67 per 90 minutes. Essentially over the 9 games played so far Halifax have scored 4.5 goals more than expected.
The same pattern emerges again when you look at xPTS where they are averaging 1.22 xPTS per game but actually recording 1.88 PPG. This would indicate that they have recorded approximately 6 points more than expected suggesting they have either had a great deal of luck on their side or have been extremely clinical in front of goal.
One area where Halifax have really assured themselves is in defence where a very settled back four have ensured the Shaymen currently sit top of the defence table conceding just 0.89 goals per 90 minutes. We should also consider that this has had a positive affect on their actual points vs expected points but again might suggest that compared to an expected goals against (xGA) of 1.34 they have been over performing in this area.
Central defender and club Captain Niall Maher stands out having had previous experience in the Championship with Blackpool and Bolton Wanderers as well as League One experience with Bury and a spell in the Irish PL with Galway, quite some CV for a player who is still only 26 years old and again goes to show the level of talent that can be found in the lower echelons of English football.
So we can expect Halifax to start with a back four with two central midfielders probably in the form of Kieran Green and one of either youngster Kian Spence or experienced Scotsman Martin Woods.
Jordan Slew and Jamie Adams offer a threat down the flanks and sat in behind Billy Waters is likely to be recent loan signing Elliott Newby who was drafted in from Stockport County on Friday of last week.
Halifax like Notts are comfortable playing the ball on the deck and will look to play with a high tempo, working through the lines via the two holding midfielders or the number 10 before going out wide where a quick cross or ball into the box will almost certainly be pounced upon by Waters.
If Notts are going to get anything from this match they are going to have to impose themselves on the game from the outset and apply a high press of their own which will make it difficult for Halifax to play through the Magpies lines.
With this in mind it might be worth Notts looking at bringing Ed Francis back into the starting 11 as a holding midfielder which will help to plug any potential gaps exposed if the Notts press is breached.
Cal Roberts will be available again after serving his one match suspension and we should expect to see him start along with Ruben Rodrigues and Kyle Wootton.
Interestingly the bookies have Notts as slight favourites for the win at circa 23/20. Halifax currently sit at 9/4 and you are looking at 5/2 for the draw.
Based on these odds you would expect Notts to have a 47% chance of winning but historically they win 42% of these games.
Halifax would expect to have a 31% chance of winning but historically win 35% of games when at these odds.
Basically this is a game that we can expect to be played at a high tempo. Both teams are comfortable in possession but Halifax are happier to get forward with the ball early whereas Notts are more inclined to keep possession and wait for their opportunities.
One reason for the slow build up play we have become accustomed to from Notts is that there is a philosophy for creating good goal scoring opportunities. These generally occur with possession in the oppositions penalty area which is a contributing factor for almost all of Notts goals so far this season being scored from inside the box.
To put this into perspective Notts currently top the National League table for touches in the opposition area averaging nearly 24 touches per game. By contrast Halifax average just under 13 touches per game.
I've just checked the weather forecast and it's going to be chucking it down all day in Halifax. If the game goes ahead then the rain will definitely have an impact on the way the match is played and a more direct approach may be needed from both teams.
As always thanks for reading and if you have any questions about the stats please feel free to give me a shout either in the comments section below, via the contact page on the website or through the usual social media channels.
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