Football for a Fiver returns this week, and with it a fresh attempt at breaking the National League attendance record, a record Notts currently hold already. That figure stands at 12,843, but with Meadow Lane now sold out, and some 16,000+ expected to visit the historic ground this week that record won’t stand for long. With that comes a lot of fresh eyes on Notts, so this week we have decided to expand our usual preview to include info and data on what new spectators might expect when watching this Magpie side.
County are a club with a strong identity on and off the pitch. Former Head Coach Ian Burchnall really helped establish the style of play, brining possession based football to the fore at the Lane, and new boss Luke Williams has expanded this style, incorporating his own elements too. These include, but are not limited to, higher intensity, more emphasis on the press, and a slightly more direct style in some phases of play. Spectators can expect to see Notts completely dominate the ball, as the Magpies have the highest average possession in the league, a massive 66.2%. This is 7.9% higher than second place Dorking, and opposition Yeovil are unlikely to contest this, as their 44.3% average possession is the 4th lowest in the league.
The story is the same when it comes to passing too; Notts have played over 10,000 passes, easily the most in the league, whereas Yeovil have managed just 5,673, 15th highest in the league. Notts are not a side that pass for the sake of passing though; new watchers should expect passes with purpose, especially from star man Ruben Rodrigues, who has played 47 smart passes, 30 more than 2nd place. (A smart pass is defined as ‘a creative and penetrative pass that attempts to break the opposition's defensive lines to gain a significant advantage in attack').
In their last 6 games Notts have scored a very impressive 18 goals, so it’s likely the side will look to entertain, especially in front of a capacity crowd. Yeovil by contrast have scored just 4 in their last 6, but fans would be mistaken if they see this one as totally one sided. Yeovil are a tough defensive outfit; in those games they have only conceded 7, and of the 4 goals they have scored 3 came in their last game against Gateshead. Confidence will be high for the Somerset outfit, who have experienced a massive upturn in form under new boss Mark Cooper. They have looked a markedly better side under their new stewardship, recording 2 draws and a win in the 4 games he’s been in charge. Their only loss was a narrow 1-0 defeat away to Woking, a side who currently sit 4th in the table. Cooper is also a boss who will be familiar to the County faithful, having managed the side for a short stint in 2016, and his appointment at Yeovil has been seen as somewhat of a coup. Therefore, Notts fans shouldn’t merely expect a walkover this weekend.
Whilst Yeovil will be looking to spoil the party, Notts will be very confident heading into the weekend, not least due to the amount of goals in their side. Most spectators at the weekend, even new ones, will more than likely be aware of the goal scoring exploits of Macaulay Langstaff (18 goals in 19), but they might not realise that Notts are also particularly strong in goal diversification. The Magpies third top scorer is left wing back Adam Chicksen, who has 7 goals in 19, including 1 last time out against Eastleigh. It’s not an uncommon sight to see the Zimbabwean international actually in line with Langstaff, and his rich vein of goal scoring form is no coincidence. You can read more about our high flying wing back here where we take a closer look at his transformation under Luke Williams.
Rested at the weekend, Notts’ second top scorer, Cedwyn Scott, might see a return to the starting 11 this weekend, as he will be looking to add to his tally of 8 goals for the season. A strong, well rounded forward, Scott gets far more involved in the build up play than his strike partner Langstaff, as shown by the fact Scott plays 23.09 passes per 90, almost more than 3 times the amount Langstaff plays at 8.53. As already noted Notts are a passing side, and no player better embodies this than central midfielder Matty Palmer, who has played more passes than any other player in the division (1,390). Palmer is an excellent reader of the game, and his weight of passing is sure to entertain the large crowd this weekend.
Notts are a side who build from the back, so the back 3 are not merely out and out defenders. The Magpies have 4 central defensive options, and all 3 have quality on the ball; in fact they round out the top 5 in terms of passes per 90, alongside the aforementioned Palmer. Aden Baldwin tops that list with a massive 76.74 passes per 90, and it’s not an uncommon sight to see Baldwin play a diagonal switch out to the right hand side, so watch out for that pass this weekend. Skipper Kyle Cameron has been an ever present to the left of the back 3, a man who scored 4 goals in 28 games last season, 1 for every 7 he played. This season he is yet to get off the mark, so he is certainly due a goal, and there would be no finer way to do so than this weekend in front of a capacity crowd.
Yeovil results have picked up a little since the return of Mark Cooper with just one defeat in the last 4 games, but their last 6 games currently sees them 16th in the recent form table with just 5 points from a possible 18.
Despite putting 3 goals past Gateshead last time out the only other goal they have scored in the last 6 was in a 1-1 draw at Maidstone.
Although sitting top of the table Notts are actually 3rd in the recent form table due to the draws against Southend (who are currently top of the form table) and Bromley.
That said Notts have scored an impressive 18 goals during that spell and conceded just 4 as well as keeping 3 clean sheets in the process.
Looking at how the two teams rank in key playing style actions it's clear to see how Notts manage to dominate so many opponents scoring highly in most areas with an emphasis on possession and attacking intent.
It's also clear to see that Yeovil have been under the cosh a fair bit this season and the long ball stats are probably due to clearances and an attempt to relieve any deep pressure from opponents.
Notts are not the only side who have a left wing back who is one of their top scorers; summer signing Jamie Reckord has 3 goals to his name, making him the Glovers 2nd top scorer this term. Reckord is a player with a wealth of experience, and has operated at both LWB under Hargreaves, and also as a more traditional full back under new boss Cooper.
There is some uncertainty as to who will be up against Reckord down that flank, as Luke Williams faces a selection headache when choosing between Nemane and Adebayo-Rowling. Whoever is up against him will have a tough afternoon though, as Reckord wins 65.06% of his defensive duels, which for this division is very impressive. He’s also a threat going forward, and with 2.32 crosses per 90 he will look to cause problems for Notts when they do counter.
Despite their league position, Yeovil have been strong defensively; only 6 sides have conceded fewer than the Glovers, and all of these sides are in the top half.
A large part of this success has been keeper Grant Smith, who has been impressive between the sticks this season. Smith has made 60 saves, 7th most in the league, and he has a massive save percentage of 74.07%. Clearly Notts’ frontline will need to be at their best in order to beat Smith, a man who has kept a clean sheet against both Solihull and Dagenham, two sides known for their attacking prowess.
The target of Reckord's crosses is likely to be 6' 3" striker Alex Fisher, who bagged a crucial brace last time out in the Glover’s 3-1 win over Gateshead.
A player with plenty of experience, a theme that runs throughout Yeovil’s squad, Fisher is the Glovers’ top scorer in what is his second stint at the club. Fisher is involved in a massive 19.46 aerial duels per 90, 2nd most in the division, so Yeovil’s game plan is a pretty clear, yet effective one. 50% of Fisher’s goals have come with his head, so he is certainly an aerial presence Notts will have to be wary of.
It will be interesting to see how Fisher’s presence effects Luke Williams’ team selection; the natural choice would be Connell Rawlinson, but Williams may have faith that his side are good enough to limit balls into the box before they become chances for Fisher.
For those of you watching Notts for the first time this season you will witness a team under Luke Williams that plays with a very high intensity throughout. The emphasis is on keeping the ball but also recovering from any ball losses as quickly and as high up the pitch as possible.
Mark Cooper will most likely set his team up in a 4-2-3-1 formation, however, due to the intensity they will face from Notts you can expect to see that become a very defensive 4-5-1 in a low block in an attempt to shut Notts out.
Alex Fisher will most likely be the striker ploughing his own furrow up top with central midfielder Matt Worthington looking to offer support in behind.
Expect Notts to stick with the 3-4-2-1 we have become accustomed to and be ready for some edge of your seats moments as Notts look to attack concisely and with pace as they look to make headway through the Yeovil block with the two wingbacks offering attacking support high up the pitch.
Yeovil currently sit in 19th place in the league having won just 3 times in 19 games. They have scored 16 goals averaging just 0.84 goals per 90 minutes with an xG (expected goals) average of 0.90 goals per 90 minutes. This suggests that they are scoring at an expected rate which, on the face of it suggests they really need to be creating more chances and with a higher value if they are to avoid being drawn into a relegation battle as the season progresses.
At the other end of the pitch they are conceding 1.11 goals per game with an xCG (expected conceded goals) average of 1.41 per 90 minutes. This actually suggests that they are performing slightly better than as expected and that they are, on the whole managing to keep opponents to a relatively low number of high value goal scoring opportunities.
On the road the Glovers have struggled and are without an away win in the 9 games played so far netting just 6 and conceding 11 goals in the process.
Yeovil Away Form:
P 9 | W 0 | D 5 | L 4 | F 6 | A 11 | GD -5 | PTS 5
Notts are 2nd in the 'home' table with 7 wins and 2 draws from 9 games, scoring 20 and conceding just 4 goals.
Macaulay Langstaff - 18 (xG 15.24)
Alex Fisher - 4 (xG 4.09)
As expected Notts are big favourites for this game so the only value you will find is for the away win.
The best you can currently get on the home win is 23/100 with GoldenBet and JackBit. You can get 27/5 for the draw with BetUK and Ladbrokes are currently offering 14/1 for the away win.
Based on these odds Notts expected win% is 82%, however, historically they have won 75% of their games at these odds.
Saturday's game offers Notts a chance to impress both on and off the pitch with over 16,000 in attendance.
The Magpies should have enough quality to put on a good show and put Yeovil to the sword. However, they might have to be patient as the visitors will do their best to spoil the party and will do their best to shut Notts out at all costs.
Whatever happens we hope this data led preview has helped to provide those of you who will be in attendance for the first time this season with an insight into what to expect on the pitch from both teams.
As always thanks for reading.
Full stats report to follow after the game.
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