Weather permitting, Mike Williamson's Gateshead visit Meadow Lane on Tuesday night finding themselves floundering at the bottom end of the table.
Injuries have played a part in The Heed's recent form and a big blow for them is being without the services of midfield maestro and captain Greg Olley.
Olley is a supreme creator, providing 20 assists last season, many of which were for the now Notts strikers Macaulay Langstaff and Cedwin Scott.
If Olley remains out they are sure to miss his presence in midfield, something Notts should be able to capitalise on.
Gateshead haven't found life back in the National League particularly easy and find themselves second from bottom in the league on 17 points from 21 games.
Looking at their last 6 they have just one win to shout about, a 3-1 win at home to Southend, otherwise it's 4 defeats and a draw. Last time out saw them lose at home to an improving Aldershot.
Notts made it back to back away wins at Maidenhead on Saturday and 14 league games since the last defeat away at Dorking. They have also now scored in every one of the last 18 away games.
Looking at the playing style rankings and despite Gateshead's lowly league position they actually rank highly in many of the construction and challenge intensity stats. However, they rank the lowest for wing play which might provide an indication of how they might shape up against Notts on Tuesday night.
Mike Williamson likes to play with a back 4, predominantly a narrow and compact 4-3-3 and it's likely this will be the case when they face Notts, with the front 3 looking to press high.
They are also comfortable on the ball and will look to keep hold of posesion themselves where they can, looking to play through the lines, however this could provide Notts with an opportunity to make quick use of the wide players from any turnover of possession.
Despite their aggressive pressing and high intensity Gateshead, like many teams before them this season, might find themselves having to drop a little deeper as the game progresses and Notts start to enjoy more of the ball seeing the high pressing 4-3-3 become more of a 4-5-1 mid/low block.
Former Notts County loanee Kenton Richardson has been an ever present for Gateshead this season, playing in a variety of roles. His versatility has proven vital, as Gateshead have had plenty of injuries.
Richardson has most commonly featured as a central defender, despite being just 5' 9", but he has been used at both left and right full back too. Richardson has also looked like a transformed player since his spell at Meadow Lane, adding defensive solidity to his game. This has seen him win a very impressive 72.73% of his defensive duels so far this season. Wherever he is utilised on Tuesday night he is likely to be tough to beat.
Gateshead’s top scorer and arguably best performer this season has been former another Magpie Adam Campbell. The wide forward has 6 goals to his name this season, and he’s shown creative flair to go alongside his strong finishing.
Campbell is currently 2nd for smart passes, and his total of 20 is only bettered by Ruben Rodrigues. From the wide areas Campbell is a real threat, and his ability to both provide and finish chances makes him an unpredictable quantity.
Campbell is extremely active in the final third; he takes 2.38 shots per 90, 25th most in the league, and the most of any Gateshead player. He’s also the league’s 10th most accurate finisher, hitting the target with 46.94% of his shots. It’s therefore reasonable to suggest the former County man is the most likely of the Heed’s players to threaten Sam Slocombe.
Gateshead have recently added another goal threat to their ranks, as big forward Danny Elliott made the move from Boreham Wood last week. Elliott found chances hard to come by at the Wood, but he netted 22 goals for Boston United last season, so he certainly knows where the back of the net is.
At 6' 3" he is an aerial presence, and the 27 year old is strong and athletic too. He will look to get the ball onto his left foot and shoot towards goal; he’s managed 15 shots despite playing less than 500 minutes this season.
After his unsuccessful spell at Boreham Wood he will be motivated, and is a striker with something to prove. He will certainly help replace some of the goal threat they lost in the summer, and Magpies fans must hope he doesn’t open his Gateshead account tomorrow night.
As already mentioned The Heed currently sit 23rd in the league on 17 points from 21 games meaning a PPG of just 0.80.
They've scored 25 goals in those 21 games meaning they are averaging 1.20 goals per game with an xG of 1.13 so performing pretty much as expected when considering the value of the chances created in front of goal.
At the other end of the pitch they are conceding 1.65 goals per game compared to an xCG of 1.59 again suggesting they are pretty much where they should be in defending their own goal.
Gateshead's away form is not great with just 1 win and 3 draws from 10 games, scoring 10 but conceding 19.
Gateshead Away Form:
P 10 | W 1 | D 3 | L 6 | F 10 | A 19 | GD -9 | PTS 6
Notts are unbeaten at home in the league this season winning 7 and drawing 3 from 10 games. Additionally they have scored 20 goals and conceded just 4 keeping 7 clean sheets in the process.
Macaulay Langstaff - 21 (xG 18.78)
Adam Campbell - 6 (xG 3.90)
Very short odds on Notts for the home win with 1/5 the best on offer at the time of writing with BetUK.
If you fancy an upset there are several options for the away win at 12/1 and you can currently get 6/1 for the draw.
As with the game at maidenhead at the weekend there is still a risk that the weather will win the day with temperatures not looking to rise much above zero degrees, but an announcement from Notts suggests they are confident that the game will go ahead.
Gateshead will start with a high tempo and look to press high so Notts will need to be at the races from the start if they are not to get caught out at the back when in possesion. However, as the game progresses you would expect the home team to get a hold of the game and create enough chances that a win should really be on the cards.
That said Notts can ill afford to be complacent and despite gateshead's current league standing it is likely they will give a very good account of themselves.
As always thanks for reading.
Full stats report to follow after the game.
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