Updated: Sep 23
Notts travel to historic York on Saturday hoping that unlike the famous city street there isn't a repeat of the 'shambles' experienced in Surrey last time out.
York City boss John Askey brought in a massive 16 players in the summer, many of which were experienced National League operators, leading many to tip them to finish in a playoff position. After the start they’ve made it’s easy to see why these predictions were made, with York unbeaten in 5, with 3 wins in that stretch and a credible draw away at perennial play-off contenders Solihull Moors.
Interestingly York have won their last 3 games by just the 1 goal, and even more fascinating is that The Minstermen haven’t been involved in a game with more than 3 goals this season.
Outside of their opening day 2-0 win over Woking every game York have been involved in has been a draw or decided by one goal. This shows how tight their side is, and that the game this weekend will be one of fine margins.
As already mentioned York are on an unbeaten run of 5 games which has followed a defeat at home to Eastleigh back in August and currently sit 8th in the National League standings on 15 points, just 3 points behind Notts.
The last six games has seen York conceding just 4 goals and recording 2 clean sheets which goes some way to confirming why they currently sit top of the defence table alongside Wealdstone and Boreham Wood.
The defeat to Eastleigh is the only home game this season where York have failed to score, but they are currently scoring 1.25 goals per game at home compared to 1 goal per game on the road.
One notable stat regarding the goals York have conceded is that 71% of those goals are conceded in the last 15 minutes of each half with 42.60% of those in the last 15 minutes of a game.
The defeat at Dorking was the first for Notts this season and came on the back of an unbeaten opening run of 8 games.
Much was made last season of Notts scoring in every home game, so it's interesting to note the Magpies have scored in every game of the current campaign, something I'm sure they'll be looking to continue on Saturday.
When comparing team action rankings for the season so far Notts outdo York in all actions except long ball and challenge intensity. This would certainly suggest York are more direct in their play, but more on that later.
Despite the large number of new faces at The LNER Community Stadium, arguably the most important signing was a returning player.
Lenell John-Lewis was on loan from Grimsby last season, and he was crucial as he scored the opening goal in the playoff final, a game they ultimately won 2-0 to secure promotion.
John-Lewis made his loan permanent in the summer joining on a free transfer, and so important is the 31 year old striker that he was handed the captains armband too.
This is a striker who leads by example, one who has scored 40% of his sides goals, an impressive feat. He’s a strong forward, one who scores goals at the crucial times, with 3 of his goals earning York 5 points, showing what a big game player he is.
John-Lewis takes 2.8 shots per 90, ranking him 20th in the league in terms of shot frequency; he’s sure to keep Slocombe busy. He’s also the 21st most accurate shooter in the league, meaning he’s bound to be a constant threat, and definitely the most likely of Minstermen goal scorers. And even if you don’t think Lenell John-Lewis is one of the best forwards in the division, you do have to agree that his nickname, ‘The Shop’ is undoubtedly the finest in the league!
Afghan born winger Maziar Kouhyar is the other man who scored in York’s play off final victory, and he’s also one of the few men who kept his place in Askey’s new look side. And whilst John-Lewis is the main goal threat, Kouhyar is definitely York’s most dangerous player.
Kouhyar already has 4 assists this term, more than any Notts player and a total that puts him in 3rd place in the league. Kouhyar attempts 4.48 1v1 dribbles per 90, 41st most in the league, but it’s his creativity which will pose Notts the biggest problems. Kouhyar has played 5 smart passes so far this season, just 3 less than Rodrigues, showing how dangerous he can be.
He also ranks 18th in terms of progressive runs, with Rodrigues again the only Notts player to rank above the Afghan winger. Clearly Kouhyar has plenty of quality, and there’s a reason the 24 year old is touted as a future EFL player.
Notts County Stats' very own Tom Williams has been quite clear in his admiration for Irish central defender Maxim Kouogun.
The 25 year old missed York’s last game against Scunthorpe due to suspension, but he is back available for the Notts game, and you'd expect him to go straight back into the side.
York dropped points away to the struggling Irons last time out, and you have to wonder whether Kouogun’s absence played a factor in the draw. A quick defender, Kouogun is extremely solid defensively, and his lack of height and presence in aerial situations shouldn’t be a problem, as Notts’ attack is hardly massive.
Kouogun is undoubtedly one of the best defenders in the league, and with a massive defensive duel success rate of 79.45% it’s easy to see why. That’s the 7th highest in the league, and 5.09% higher than Notts’ most successful defender, Kyle Cameron. York have the best defence in the league, and this man is a huge factor in that.
24 year old midfielder Dan Pybus has spent the last 3 seasons playing in the Scottish second division, and his return to English football has been a success so far.
Pybus is an all action midfielder, one who has been involved in the most defensive duels of any outfield player. He’s crucial in the midfield, getting into plenty of action, recording 13 more defensive duels than 2nd place Miley of Southend, showing how effective he is in breaking up play in the midfield.
Pybus is also extremely active with the ball, recording 389 passes so far this season, the 19th most in the league. This shows how well rounded his game is, and he’s bound to be a handful for Palmer this weekend. Of these 389 passes 71 are progressive, showing he has the ability to create with the ball too; this means 18.25% of his passes are classed as progressive, a very decent number.
By contrast Matty Palmer has only played 69 progressive passes, meaning only 12.12% of his passes are classed as as such. Pybus will be a key man in York’s midfield, and he will be crucial in winning key battles and keeping the game as tight as possible.
John Askey started the season with a back four, favouring a 4-1-4-1 formation, but following the defeat to Eastleigh the York Boss switched to a back 3, a decision that was probably forced by injuries, particularly to left back/wingback Alex Whittle.
As mentioned earlier York City are a team that performs best when energy levels are high, this helps to compliment their impressive challenge intensity and although they will press when given the opportunity, their game is not defined by it.
Despite being away from home Notts can again expect to see the lions share of the ball and this, along with the high press we have now become accustomed to will be crucial in frustrating the Minstermen.
Both teams will be extremely well organised and Notts will need to guard against complacency, this is a game that has the potential to be won or lost on an error and if the mistakes at Dorking are repeated you are very likely to be punished for it.
Much will depend on how Notts manage the creative threat of Kouhyar and the industry of Pybus meaning Palmer, O'Brien and Co could have a very busy afternoon. That said, if Notts keep the initiative and work to spoil York's shape, especially in the final third it will free up space for Rodrigues and the wide players to create some high value opportunities for the Notts front men.
York have scored 10 and conceded 7 in 9 games with an xG of 1.24 per 90 minutes and an xCG of 1.10 goals per 90 suggesting their defence are over performing slightly.
Home record for York so far:
P4 | W2 | D1 | L1 | GF 5 | GA 3 | GD +2
They are averaging 11.00 shots per 90 mins with just 28.30% of those attempts on target suggesting, along with their xG that they don't create many high value opportunities and should probably more clinical in front of goal.
At the other end of the pitch York have faced 10.78 shots per 90 minutes with 40.20% of those shots faced being on target.
By contrast Notts are averaging 2.33 goals per game with an average xG of 2.02 meaning they are still performing better in front of goal than expected.
Defensively Notts are conceding just 1.00 goals per game with an xGC average of 1.29, a number that has increased slightly thanks to the unexpectedly high xG value of Dorking's crazy injury time goals last week.
York - Lenell John-Lewis 4 (xG 4.01)
Notts - Macaulay Langstaff 10 (xG 6.96)
It's surprising to see the bookies make Notts favourites for the away win, although the margins aren't massive.
At the time of writing Ladbrokes and Bet365 are both offering an underwhelming 17/20 on Notts.
You can get 31/10 on a York win with Unibet and 13/5 for the draw with Unibet and Bet365.
Based on this the expected chance of winning for Notts is 54% but historically win 55% of games at these odds.
York's expected chance of winning would be 25% but historically they win 38% of games at these odds.
Notts fans will be hoping for a response from Luke Williams' men following the Dorking defeat, and with Macaulay Langstaff missing out on a goal last time out he will be keen to put that right, and what better place to do it than at a former club, where he scored 11 goals in 26 appearances.
The Magpies, backed by a sold out contingency from Nottingham, will need to take this game by the scruff of the neck and not allow themselves to be rattled or bullied if they are to leave the land of the Vikings with anything to show for their efforts. Hopefully the large away following will play their part in helping Notts getting the job done.
Full match report and stats to follow after the game.
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All photos - The Yorkshire Press
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