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Preview | Maidstone United (h)

Two sides that were dumped out of the FA Cup last weekend will clash under the lights at Meadow Lane this Friday night, but whilst they had the same result at the weekend their fortunes couldn’t be more contrasting in the league.


Notts top the table, with just 1 loss and 9 wins, whilst Maidstone currently languish in the relegation zone, with just 3 wins and 7 losses. The Stones have succumbed to 5 of those 7 losses in their last 7 league games, a period in which they have also registered 0 wins. In short, Notts are certainly, as expected, clear favourites heading into this fixture.


"We owe them on Friday, we owe the fans" were the key words spoken by Luke Williams in the post match interview after the FA Cup defeat to Coalville, and if Williams has proven anything so far during his time at Notts, he’s shown he is a man of his word. You’d have to expect Notts to come out on Friday and look to dominate, assert their dominance on the game and ultimately aim to attack.


The biggest selection headache Williams faces is in midfield, where Sam Austin once again showed what an excellent footballer he is.


Williams made 8 changes at the weekend, and you’d expect him to rotate in similar numbers this time out, with Notts returning to something closer to their full strength side.


Maidstone won’t be nearly as well rested, as boss Hakan Heyrettin opted to field a strong side at the weekend, so Notts should also have the advantage in the fitness department.


Maidstone have only picked up 4 points on the road this season, 3 against Aldershot and 1 against Altrincham, both of whom have visited Meadow Lane, and both of whom Notts beat comfortably.


Maidstone Boss Hakan Hayrettin
Maidstone Boss Hakan Hayrettin - Full Strength?

Current Form:

As already alluded to Maidenhead have struggled of late despite a promising start to life in the National League that saw them accrue 10 points in their opening 6 games.


However, they are now 8 games without a win including the FA Cup defeat away to Needham Market who, like Coalville Town, ply their trade in the Southern League Premier Central. So at least that's something Maidstone and Notts have in common!


Maidstone have conceded twice as many goals as they have scored in their last 6 outings suggesting there are defensive frailties that Notts' creative and attacking players will look to take advantage of.


The one blessing in disguise for Notts following their cup exit at the weekend was that it didn't impact on league position and points.


The Magpies still sit atop of the National League and a win on Friday night will ensure that doesn't change when the chasing pack play catch up on Saturday.


Looking at the playing style rankings it's clear Maidstone will play a very direct, long ball game with a high press and high challenge intensity.


Players:

Firstly, a man probably best remembered by Notts fans for the "#FreeCalRoberts" saga rather than his actual time with the club, Regan Booty is a key man at Maidstone, creating from deep and showing what a cultured left foot he has.


Booty has played 32 deep completions, more than any other player (Rodrigues is 2nd on 31), showing he loves to play the ball into the box in order to create. He also provides 1.82 shot assists per 90, 11th most in the league, and only Ruben Rodrigues plays more in a Notts shirt.


The former Magpie plays 40.03 passes per 90, the most of any Maidstone player, so clearly most of their game goes through him, so it will be vital that Notts’ midfield don’t give him much time on the ball in order to prevent him from creating.


Regan Booty in action for Notts County
Regan Booty in action for Notts County

One of the best out and out defenders in the league, Joe Ellul wins a massive 78.21% of his defensive duels, 13th in the league, and is involved in 12.34 successful defensive actions per 90, 10th highest in the league.


Whilst he’s clearly called into action more often than most defenders, Ellul is always ready to deliver. He also wins 62.77% of his aerial duels, and the 33 year old already has 1 goal to his name this season, meaning he will be a threat from set pieces too.


A really tough player, one who puts his body on the line, Ellul will make life difficult for Notts' frontline, and they will have to be at their best to get past him.


Joe Ellul - hard tackling
Joe Ellul - hard tackling

A winger with style and substance, Roarie Deacon is Maidstone’s leading assist maker, with 5, a total that is 3rd highest in the league as a whole. Deacon also has 2 goals to his name, meaning he has 7 goal contributions, a rather tidy number for a player in a side in the relegation zone.

Deacon is a winger with a lot of end product; 50% of his shots are on target, a very decent figure, and Notts must be careful when he gets the ball. He plays down the left, so will be up against Nemane, meaning there will be plenty of space in behind, something Notts will have to be wary of.


He is a dangerous player, one who provides 1.95 shot assists per 90, 7th most in the league, just reinforcing what a threat he is. His 0.59 key passes per 90 rank him 22nd in the league, showing he is an extremely creative player, and is certainly Maidstone’s key man in the attacking third.


Danger Man - Roarie Deacon
Danger Man - Roarie Deacon

Between the sticks for Maidstone is former Liverpool youth keeper Yusuf Mersin.


Mersin has played 10 of Maidstone’s 13 games, but has been unable to prevent them from sliding down the table. This isn’t that surprising when you consider he has the 2nd worst save percentage in the league, managing to save just 55.32% of shots faced. He’s also prevented 5.38 less goals than expected, again 2nd worst in the league, so overall the Turkish Youth International hasn’t had the best of times in goal.


He’s also only kept the 1 Clean Sheet this season, so if Notts do get into the final 3rd as often as we think they will they should look to put Mersin under as much pressure as possible. Langstaff will have to be aware that chances may fall his way if he is to follow in, and Mersin has shown this season that he is prone to conceding.


Maidstone Keeper Yusuf Mersin
Maidstone Keeper Yusuf Mersin

In terms of goals, Maidstone don’t really have an out and out goalscorer, as James Alabi has 2 and Jack Barham has 3, but they are the duo most likely to start up front on Friday night.


Clearly Maidstone miss Joan Luque, who is still out with injury; the Spaniard was their top scorer last season, firing in 20 goals in 33 games. Alabi has been brought in to replace him, and whilst he’s certainly a powerful and dynamic forward, the goals haven’t exactly flowed for the 27 year old. To be fair to Alabi he ranks 28th for non-penalty goals per 90, and his lack of goals may be due to a reduced amount of minutes.


One thing Notts won’t have to worry about with this pairing is aerial battles, as the pair are 5' 8" (Barham) and 5' 9" (Alabi) respectively. This is good news for Notts who have, at times, looked a little shaky in the air, but the recovery pace of the likes of Brindley will be crucial in stopping attacks.


Notts will still need to close the pair down, because when they do get chances they are often quite dangerous; Alabi has a shot accuracy of 50% and Barham hits the target with 56.52% of his shots. Barham is also below his xG by 2.55, which suggests he will start scoring soon, so let’s hope for Notts sake that it isn’t this Friday that he finally finds his shooting boots.


Tactics:

As we've already mentioned the two playing styles are quite dissimilar.


Hayrettin likes to play a back four with 4-2-3-1 the formation he has used most this season. This also makes it easier for Maidstone to drop into a more defensive 4-4-1-1 when out of possession and then to utilise the two wide attacking midfielders on the break when given the chance.


Knowing how Notts will look to control the game it's more likely we will see Maidstone looking to get their two forwards in behind the Notts defensive back line with the long ball but also try to take advantage of any space in behind the Notts wing backs.


With Notts playing a very high line this is where Brindley and Cameron will have to be on their toes and ready to cover these spaces in behind the wingbacks who also push very high in the attacking phases.


You would expect that Notts will have enough to see this game out quite comfortably but as always will have to guard against complacency especially in the defensive transitions after any breakdown and ball losses in the attacking third.


Stats:

Maidstone have scored 17 and conceded 30 goals so far this season. This means they are averaging 1.31 goals per game with an xG of 1.41 per game so they are pretty much scoring at an expected rate.


At the other end of the pitch they are shipping 2.31 goals per game with an expected conceded goals average of just 1.92 suggesting their defensive resilience should be better than it currently is.


Maidstone's away record so far this season isn't the best, in fact it sees them 3rd from bottom in the away table with just 0.57 PPG and 3 points from a possible 21.


Maidstone Away Form:

P 7 | W 1 | D 1 | L 5 | F 9 | A 21 | GD -12 | PTS 4


Forgetting Coalville for a moment, Notts will be looking to continue their great home form in the league with 5 wins and a draw seeing them accumulate 16 points from a possible 18 at Meadow Lane.


Leading Scorers:

Notts:

Macaulay Langstaff - 15 (xG 10.13)


Maidstone:

Jack Barham - 3 (xG 5.54)


Odds:

At the time of writing Notts were clear favourites as expected with Bet365 offering 3/10 for the home win.


William Hill are offering 10/1 for a Maidstone win and you can get 9/2 for the draw with BetFair.


This is a game you might expect to see Notts trying to put right the wrongs of the Coalville defeat and with Maidstone's leaky defence it could mean plenty of goal scoring opportunities for the Magpies. With that in mind Bet365 are currently offering evens for Notts to score more than 2.5 goals and 12/1 for Notts to win 4-0.


Conclusions:

This has to be a great opportunity for Notts to kick on again after the misery of last weeks defeat to Coalville.


Maidstone are not having the best of it of late and it would be a brave man to bet against Notts getting the job done as realistically that's exactly what they should do.


As always thanks for reading. If you find our work interesting please feel free to comment, share and subscribe, all interaction is very much appreciated.


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Notes:

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