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Preview | Yeovil Town (a)

The irresistible force meets the immovable object. What happens when the side who have conceded the third fewest goals meets the side who have scored the most in the whole division? Notts have failed to score against just one side this season, and Luke Williams’ men look to rectify this when they travel to Yeovil this weekend.

We don’t need to tell Notts fans how defensively solid Yeovil are. They kept Notts at bay for 90 minutes at Meadow Lane, the only side to do so this term. They defended deep, with numbers, and showed incredible discipline. They set a blueprint that other sides, such as Boreham Wood, have looked to follow. And it’s not only against the Magpies where Yeovil have been solid. Only Southend and Wrexham have conceded fewer goals than the Glovers, highlighting the strength of their defence.

Yeovil are a side who are greater as a collective than the sum of their parts. They are well organised in defence, due in large part to the excellent coaching of former Magpies boss Mark Cooper. He’s made the Glovers incredibly tough to beat; they’ve lost just 2 of the 13 games he’s been in charge of since his appointment in October of last year. They’ve kept 7 clean sheets in that 13 game period, including one against Notts, showing how absurdly strong they are in defence. They defend as a unit, stifle the opposition and as a general rule do not concede high quality chances.

Yeovil Boss Mark Cooper | IMG PPA/Yeovil Town
Bus Driver? Yeovil Boss Mark Cooper - (IMG PPA/Yeovil Town)

There is a feeling though that they overly rely on their defence. While they don’t lose many due to their defence, their emphasis on it means they also don’t win many either. Only the bottom 2 have won fewer games than Yeovil, and no side in the division has drawn more games than Cooper’s side. In emphasising defence Cooper sacrifices attacking output. They set up to not get beat, and as such they relinquish large amounts of attacking threat. They defend deep, with strength in numbers. They don’t commit men to attacks, even on the counter, so as to not risk getting caught out themselves. They don’t leave themselves vulnerable, but it means they lack goal threat.

The Glovers have scored just 25 goals this term. No side has scored fewer. So while they have one of the best defences in the league, they undoubtedly have one of the worst attacks. They will look to defend, and defend for their lives. But Notts won’t be too worried about what’s coming the other way. If they go behind there is the worry that they don’t have the know how to get themselves back into the game. With the exception of Wrexham, in the 2nd game of the season, Yeovil have only salvaged points against sides currently in the relegation zone when conceding first. If their defence is breached, they are often in trouble.


Current Form:

As already alluded to Yeovil are very much about their defence. In the last 6 games they have managed wins against Dagenham and Torquay, drawn 3 and lost 1 to Bromley, not the worst form but inconsistent at best.

Notts will be desperate to put right the shut-out experienced at Meadow Lane and the match action/playing style rankings for the season would suggest Yeovil have little in their armoury to threaten the Notts defence.

A look at the playing styles merged it's difficult to see how there can be anything other than a game where Notts will dominate possession and if Yeovil do try to be adventurous and take the game to Notts they could leave themselves very exposed.

Tactics & Players:

Cooper has used a variety of systems throughout the season. At Meadow Lane he almost used a back 6, but for the majority of the campaign he has used a 5-3-1-1 system. This allowed him extra bodies at the back. However, due to changes in defensive personnel, Cooper has tinkered with the system, and in recent weeks has settled with a 4-1-4-1 system. This is a defensively rigid system, with 2 flat banks out of possession making it hard to break them down. He’s also persisted with a lone forward who is often isolated. Support from the wings is crucial to their limited attacks, and their wide players are certainly their most threatening.

Out on the left Cooper has favoured Andrew Oluwabori of late. The Peterborough loanee has bags of pace, and is a tricky, direct winger. His speed caused Notts a few issues at Meadow Lane, and he was one of the few players in white and green hoops to actually enter the Notts half. He will look to get in behind Nemane on the break, and his work rate up and down the flank will be key for Yeovil if they are to break at pace.

Pacey - Andrew Oluwabori
Pacey - Andrew Oluwabori - (IMG Gloverscast)

Out on the other side is the technically gifted Jordan Maguire-Drew. A promotion winner with Grimsby last term, Maguire-Drew is the owner of a sublime left foot. This causes him to cut inside with regularity, looking to use his stronger foot and excellent shooting technique. He has 2 goals in just 6 games, both of which came with his favoured left, and the talented winger will add more goals to his tally by the end of the season. His introduction, initially on loan, instantly made Yeovil a more threatening side. The jewel in their crown, the fact he signed on permanent terms could be seen as one of the coups of the season. A tricky wide player, Maguire-Drew is certainly Yeovil’s most dangerous player, and most likely source of goals come Saturday.

Jewel in the Crown? Maguire-Drew
Jewel in the Crown? Maguire-Drew - (IMG Gloverscast)

Captain Josh Staunton played a crucial part in their 0-0 draw at Meadow Lane, but his role has been adapted in recent weeks. A player capable of playing both in central defence and holding midfield, it was in the latter role where he featured against Notts last time out. At 5ft10 the role seems better suited to his natural physical attributes, however Staunton is an excellent reader of the game. His anticipation allows him to time challenges well, and read the flight of the ball too. His shift back to the heart of the defence in recent weeks therefore has been a fairly seamless one. Still capable of leading from the back, Staunton wins 70.7% of his defensive duels, and is a fine out and out defender. His leadership will be crucial this weekend.

You don’t have one of the best defences in the league without having a fine shot stopper. Grant Smith covered himself in glory at Meadow Lane, making a series of fine stops. He’s considered one of the best in the league, and it’s easy to see why. He’s made 99 saves already this term, 7th most in the league, and his save percentage of 77.95% is one of the very highest in the whole division. Blessed with excellent reflexes, Smith is an excellent stopper, one who you can expect to make some acrobatic saves this weekend. He’s commanding, and isn’t afraid to leave his line to close an angle on a shot. Notts will have to be at their very best to beat Smith in goal on Saturday.

Shot Stopper - Grant Smith
Shot Stopper - Grant Smith - (IMG PPA/Yeovil Town)


The Glovers currently sit 17th in the league with 32 points from 28 games giving them an average PPG of 1.14.

They are better at home where 22 of these 32 points have come at Huish Park having won 5 and drawn 7 of 15 games giving them 22 points, an average of 1.47 PPG.

Goals have been hard to come by for Yeovil who have found the back of the net just 25 times in 28 games meaning a goals per game average of just 0.89. This is compared to an average xG of 0.93 per game so it's difficult to see how at this stage of the season they will find more goals. This sees them rooted to the bottom of the goals table.

Defensively Yeovil have fared much better conceding just 28 goals, 1 less than Notts but having played 4 games less. As it stands only Southend and Wrexham have conceded fewer goals, however with a xCG of 1.53 per game it suggests they may have ridden their luck at times, but as Notts know this Yeovil team certainly know how to defend when they have to.

Yeovil Home Form:

P 15 | W 5 | D 7 | L 3 | F 15 | A 12 | GD +3 | PTS 22

Leading Scorers:


Macaulay Langstaff - 27 (xG 23.84)


Alex Fisher - 5 (xG 5.80)


A very one sided affair again as far as the bookies go. At the time of writing the best you could get on a Notts win was 2/5 with Bet365.

Coral are offering 7/1 for the home win and you can get 7/2 for the draw with 10Bet.

Based on these odds there is a 71.43% chance of a Notts win and 12.50% chance of a Yeovil win.

Final thoughts:

You would think that home advantage would mean Yeovil will have a go at Notts but this could be their undoing. If Notts can weather the storm early doors you can't see beyond a game that Notts will dominate and the biggest question mark will be over the Magpies ability to breakdown the Yeovil defence, again.

This is a game that Notts shouldn't fear and really should return with another 3 points in the bag.

As always thanks for reading.

Full stats report to follow.




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