Preview - Torquay Utd (a) National League Play Off Semi-Final
Ian Burchnall's Magpies are flying high following a last minute win over local rivals Chesterfield in the first play off eliminator which was watched by over 4,500 vocal Notts fans at Meadow Lane.
Their reward, a semi final encounter away at Torquay United, a team that for a large part of the season looked to be running away with the title. However following a slump in results, mainly due to suffering some really bad luck with injuries which included influential striker Danny Wright, Gary Johnson's men rallied to halt a bad run that saw them replaced by Sutton at the top of the table but still managed to play out a second placed National league finish.
A look at the recent form radar and despite Notts having better recent form Torquay obviously look to have had the better of it in all other areas.
The last 6 form table which doesn't include the play off games last Saturday shows Notts have been in better form than Torquay going into this game.
Goals by time segment for Torquay confirms what many clubs have found, including Notts, that The Gulls like a late goal.
Lead status for both clubs and again very little to separate them.
A quick look at some key attributes and how the two teams compare and again almost nothing to separate them however Notts do appear to be the slightly more creative in terms of attacking play. These are average percentages for all games played this season.
My one to watch for this game will be attacking midfielder Connor Lemonheigh-Evans who has pitched in with 10 goals and 8 assists for this season and has all the attributes to punish Notts.
I've pulled some key attribute data to see how he compares to our own Ruben Rodrigues.
Over 90 minutes Rodrigues edges it when it comes to attacking threat but Lemonheigh-Evans offers a greater threat when crossing and wins his fair share of aerial duels.
Again it just goes to show how closely matched the two teams are.
Torquay enter this game on the back of a 13 game unbeaten run having not lost since the defeat away at Dagenham & Redbridge back in March.
There is still some doubt over the fitness of Danny Wright who's last game was in the Gulls 1-0 win away at Sutton United on 13th April.
Gary Johnson will have his players organised and tends to prefer an old fashioned 4-4-2 but has been known to go 3 at the back on occasion but still likes to pack out the midfield, usually with a 3-4-3 set up which is something he might look to do to counter Ian Burchnall's attacking 3-5-2.
It seems Notts will have to wait until the last minute to assess short term injury concerns with Jim O'Brien back in training after missing the Chesterfield game and Jake Reeves still nursing a sore heel courtesy of the plastic pitch at Bromley.
The bookies have Torquay as favourites with odds currently around 6/5, meanwhile Notts appear to be an interesting 23/10.
Based on these odds Torquay would have a 45% chance of winning and Notts a 30% chance.
Home advantage could come into play for this one especially with some fans in the ground. However, if you were going to choose to play anywhere away from home in a play off semi final in this league you might consider Torquay to be a preferred choice compared to say Stockport or Hartlepool.
I would also venture that this could play into Notts hands and a good start could frustrate both Torquay and their fans who will be playing under the expectation and pressure of being the home team and firm favourites.
Looking at the H2H chart above Notts actually have a decent record against Torquay and haven't seen defeat at Plainmoor since a 2-1 FA Cup loss in 2005. You then have to go all the way back to 1966 for the next most recent defeat on the English Riviera and a 2-0 defeat in the old division 4.
Looking at the stats this is a game that has all the hallmarks of being a tight affair and I have no reason to believe it won't be. In some respects I'm quite happy we are away from home and seen as slight underdogs for once. This should mean there is more pressure on the Torquay camp and as mentioned earlier if Notts can get out of the blocks quickly and make early chances count it could work to their advantage.
Fingers crossed this won't be the last preview of the season but whatever happens there are signs that Notts are finally headed in the right direction and I'll be excited to see how things develop next season regardless of the league we find ourselves in.
Betting odds 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.