If there's one thing that's true of the National League it is that no two games are the same. This is certainly something Luke Williams will discover as his Notts team prepare to face Gateshead for the first time since November 2010, when just 3,235 saw Notts dispose of the Tynesiders in the first round of the FA Cup.
Gateshead F.C. is currently the third entity to represent the Tyne & Wear club, a restructure in 1977 following the dissolving of Gateshead United being the latest phoenix.
The original club, South Shields Adelaide was formed in 1899 and became members of the Football League in 1919. Financial problems saw South Shields AFC relocate to Gateshead in 1930 with the club taking the name of it's new location.
1960 saw the club voted out of the Football League and eventually dissolved in 1973. The South Shields club formed another entity to replace the original one in 1974 called Gateshead United but financial problems again saw this club dissolved in 1977. The latest reincarnation, Gateshead Football Club, replaced United and remains the same club today.
There have been 15 previous fixtures with Gateshead and their various entities with Notts winning 9 and drawing 2 of those encounters.
Under the stewardship of Player Manager Mike Williamson The Heed were convincing winners of National League North last season racking up an impressive 2.24 PPG.
Notts newcomers Macaulay Langstaff and Cedwyn Scott played a very big part in their success last season and despite both players leaving the club in the summer Gateshead still look competitive having drawn both of their opening two games 2-2.
With just two games into the new season it's difficult to make too many comparisons regarding form. Gateshead opened their season away to much fancied Dagenham. Despite being 2 up in 12 minutes they couldn't hang on with Morias scoring a 90th minute equaliser for the Daggers.
In their last outing at home to Barnet it was the polar opposite of the Daggers game with Barnet looking good and leading 2-0 at the break. However, second half goals from Paul Blackett and ex Notts man Adam Campbell saw them claim a second point of the season.
Using data from Wyscout we can compare how the two clubs rank for specific match actions compared to the rest of the National league for the first two games played this season. Two games is not a great data sample but at least we can try to analyse potential strengths, weaknesses and playing styles.
The radar charts below visualise these match actions. You can use the combine/separate button to merge the two charts for easier comparison.
Midfielder Greg Olley is one of the best creators in non-league football, and is undoubtedly Gateshead’s key man.
One of the surviving stars of their promotion campaign, Olley, a product of Hull City's academy, recorded 20 assists last season, and his creativity will be crucial again this term. Olley is no slouch off the ball either, winning 72.73% of his defensive duels against Dagenham on the opening day.
Olley will be a key man in midfield, and Francis & co will have to be at their best to keep him out of the game.
24 Year old forward Paul Blackett has scored in each of the 2 opening games, and he also has the highest goals per minute ratio in the division, scoring 1.2 per 90.
A hard working forward, Blackett has replaced Cedwyn Scott at the centre of the three, and he has made a good start in replacing his goals.
Notts’ defenders will have to watch for the in-form forward, and look to stop him adding to his goal-a-game tally.
Defender Louis Storey was at the heart of Gateshead’s promotion campaign, and looks to be an ever present again this season.
Playing on the left of the centre back partnership, Storey is a dependable player, winning 75% of his defensive duels on the opening day.
The 28 year old will also know Notts striker Langstaff, having played with the talismanic forward last season, so he may have his number.
Another player to watch, who was mentioned earlier in the preview, is Adam Campbell. Since leaving Notts Campbell has turned out for Morecombe, Carlisle and Darlington before joining Gateshead ahead of last season where he recorded 10 goals and 8 assists.
His good form has continued into this season matching Blackett with a goal in each of the first two games. Playing either as a wide left attacking midfielder or centre forward his pace is something Notts fans will certainly be aware of and something Luke Williams will have to consider when picking his starting eleven.
It's likely Williamson will keep faith with the eleven that kicked off against Barnet on Saturday.
This would suggest a 4-4-2 with Campbell and Blackett spearheading the attack and with Greg Olley orchestrating things in midfield.
Gateshead will match Notts with their own high press and challenge intensity. The key for Notts will be to keep as much possession of the ball as possible which will allow them to control the shape and tempo of the game.
With Gateshead's pace in attack Taylor making way for Nemane may be an option and you might expect to see Palmer getting his first start of the season, probably at the expense of O'Brien.
The Heed's stats were very impressive in securing the National League North title last season.
As previously mentioned a 94 point haul saw them average 2.40 PPG. Add to that an average 2.36 goals per game and a +52 GD you can see how much of an attacking threat Gateshead were last season. However, let's not forget that Langstaff and Scott accounted for more than half of that goal tally.
After two games Gateshead xG per shot is 0.139 compared to Notts at 0.106 per shot. This would suggest they have created higher value shooting opportunities per game than the Magpies.
However, Gateshead's xGC (expected goals conceded) is 0.221 per shot compared to Notts at 0.198 per shot suggesting they allow their opposition higher quality scoring opportunities than Notts do.
Looking back at the playing style radar earlier in the preview you can see that Gateshead will look to command more territory than Notts averaging 18.90 touches in the opposition box compared to Notts at 14.47 per 90. However, Notts do outscore their hosts with passes to final third where they average 63.32 per 90 minutes compared to 45.00 for Gateshead.
For all of Gateshead's attacking threat they are still a bit wobbly at the back so you would think a team with Notts' attacking options would provide a bigger challenge to the Tynesiders than what they have already faced.
Score predictions for this weekends fixtures below. We had another mixed bag of results following GW2 predicting 6 correct results with 2 of those including the correct score.
Don't forget you can enter the Notts County Stats score prediction league here.
Notts slight favourites with the bookies coming in at circa 23/20.
Gateshead currently showing at 11/5 and the draw is circa 28/11.
Based on these odds the expected chance of a Notts win is 47% but historically they win 38% of games when at these odds.
Gateshead expected win at 11/5 is 31%, however, historically they win 40% of games when at these odds.
Notts will be looking to secure a win to ensure they maintain their spot at the top end of the table, but equally a win would put The Magpies in a good place before Saturday's big clash with Chesterfield.
Gateshead will be desperate to get their first win of the season and the threat they still have, despite the loss of Langstaff and Scott, is still a threat not to be reckoned with.
It will certainly be interesting to see how the afore mentioned duo, if both get minutes, react to playing on their old battlefield, and if nothing else you would like to think performing in familiar surroundings will work to their advantage.
There's no doubting Notts have the firepower to come away from Tyneside with all 3 points, but a tightening up at the back, especially from set pieces is needed if valuable points are not to be dropped on the road this season.
As always thanks for reading. If you have any questions regarding the stats or our work in general please don't hesitate to get in touch.
Richard, Colin & Tom
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 or betting industry associated businesses.