Nearly a thousand Notts fans made the trip to the Surrey Hills, a first away trip to Meadowbank which will be remembered for all the wrong reasons.
On a day where most were concerned about the quality of the pitch it was the quality of Notts resolve which proved to be the real issue, with the Magpies falling victim to two stoppage time goals.
The game ended 3-1 to the hosts courtesy of a James McShane hattrick, a man who now has 8 goals this season.
The scoreline may suggest Notts were second best, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Notts ultimately were the architects of their own downfall, with all 3 goals coming as a result of mistakes, goals which could easily have been prevented.
The first was a delightful chip from McShane, who capitalised on a mix up between Slocombe and Palmer, the latter losing his footing on the artificial surface gifting the ball to the Dorking forward.
After failing to make the most of chances in the first half Notts finally responded on 50 minutes thanks to a fantastic Cedwyn Scott finish, smashing home at the near post, and you sensed Notts would go on to win the game from there.
However, goalkeeper Dan Lincoln, who was once the reserve specialist fielder for England in the Ashes, had the game of his life, making a string of superb saves in both halves.
And it was thanks to Lincoln that Dorking were still in the game, but when 9 minutes of added time were announced Notts fans believed it would be the Magpies who would go on to score the decisive goal.
As it happened it was the hosts who went on to win the game, courtesy of a stoppage time McShane brace. Massive credit must be given to Dorking; they defended well as a team, and did exactly what they needed to do to get the points. They simply had more steel and desire and displayed their offensive threat throughout.
Despite the result, the trip to Dorking was still an enjoyable one. The Dorking fans were some of the most welcoming experienced, and they were extremely complimentary about Notts’ performance, with some even admitting to the smash and grab nature of their victory.
A friendly and welcoming town, with several great pubs, including a fantastic micro pub, meant that the day wasn’t completely sour; we wish Dorking good luck for the rest of the season, and look forward to welcoming them to Meadow Lane.
As we have come to expect Notts come out on top in the possession stats but nowhere near the sort of numbers we've been used to in recent games.
Despite having more than double the goal attempts the nature of Dorking's goals, particularly the two injury time efforts, means they recorded a higher than expected xG. In fact when looking at some of the chances Notts had other than the goal, Scott, Rodrigues, Bajrami and Mitchell all had opportunities that on another day thy might have buried.
Despite both teams countering each others press it was Dorking's challenge intensity that probably played a big part in the final result, especially with all three goals.
When analysing the xG data there are some interesting pointers. Dorking squandered big chances in the first couple minutes seeing their xG reach 0.80 by minute 3.
Notts started to knock on the door shortly after and Ruben Rodrigues having a chance to open the scoring on 5 mins. However it was McShane who broke the deadlock with his opportunist but coolly taking chip recording just 0.05 xG.
That was pretty much Dorking's last sight of goal for the next hour of play as Notts took a tighter grip on the game before what was a crazy 12 minutes of injury time.
Based on xG Dorking just shaded it but a draw would have been a more likely result.
McShane recorded a whopping xG of 1.78 with his two shots for the second goal where he followed up his own shot off the post, conspiring to record a collective xG of 0.90.
James McShane was a player we had featured in our match preview and one we decided to compare in the game with Macaulay Langstaff.
It's clear to see that McShane was much more involved in the game than Langstaff with received passes, ball losses and recoveries much higher than the Notts marksman. This could also be due to McShane playing more of an attacking right midfielder than an out and out forward, however, his positioning in the attacking phases saw him becoming a third attacker alongside Seager and Ottaway.
It was a game Langstaff clearly struggled to get involved in, despite working hard he was restricted mainly to half chances, whereas McShane, playing on the front foot did very much everything he could to make his own luck and was well rewarded for his endeavours.
Goals + Assists:
Goals and assists table updated and Scott's excellent solo effort takes him up to four goals and two assists for the season so far.
First minutes of the season for Connell Rawlinson who looked very good and an impressive debut for Quevin Castro.
Progress chart compared to last season updated.
As promised here is the points needed visual. The points for top, third, seventh and relegation are averages based on the last 5 seasons.
First defeat for Luke Williams as Notts Head Coach.
Tom Williams has provided us with his player ratings.
Slocombe - 5
Looked comfortable with the ball at his feet for the majority of the game, undoubtedly aided by Dorking’s reluctance to press him, and he also made a few good saves to deny Dorking and keep Notts on top. He did however make some crucial mistakes which led to goals for the opposition. The pass to Palmer for the first goal was the wrong one, putting him under unnecessary pressure. The third goal is weak goalkeeping too, pushing it into a dangerous area. We need to get behind him now though.
Looked one of our more threatening players, and often beat 3 or 4 men. He lacked the final ball, something he’s really improved on in recent weeks, so it was a shame to see him struggle in this regard. Gave his all and still needs to back himself more. Looked really tired towards the end, begging the question why Adebayo-Rowling didn’t come on for him.
Rawlinson - 5
Came in for Brindley and never really looked comfortable. Won loads of headers, but the vast majority he knocked into touch. Dealt with their threats reasonably well but felt he could have prevented the third goal and clearly showed signs of rustiness. Would prefer to see him in the central of the three, with Baj out right if this combination is played as a trio together again.
Bajrami - 6
Stepped out of defence with ease in the first half, bringing the ball into midfield. Went on a few runs but like the rest of the side was guilty of overplaying. Showed real class but was just as culpable for the goals as the others. I still think his best position is in midfield, as the runs he makes could start further forward.
Cameron - 6
Skip led the line well for 90 minutes, especially in his mask, a result of a broken nose suffered against Aldershot. Cameron will be disappointed he didn’t end up on the team sheet, but it seems as though it’ll only be a matter of time before he starts adding goals from LCB. Just as at fault as the others for the goals, but overall a performance he can look back on fairly favourably.
Chicksen - 5
Back to back lackluster performances from the Zimbabwean full back. He forced a terrific save out of the imperious Lincoln, and also missed another chance which he blazed over. It’s brilliant he’s getting into these positions, but you feel a more complete player would take these chances. Defensively he never looked in trouble, but going forward he hesitates far too much, and definitely relies on Rodrigues.
Palmer - 5
This was one of the worst performances I’ve ever seen from our midfield man. Usually Palmer is one of the best players on the pitch, but he just looked off the pace against Dorking. His passes weren’t as crisp, and he seemed to get caught in possession quite often too. The mistake for the goal definitely isn’t helped by the pitch, but it just summed up the afternoon for Palmer and Notts. I’m not too worried though; he will bounce back next weekend and be back to his usual self.
O’Brien - 7
From the away end I actually called for Kairo to come on for Jim, but in hindsight I think this was the wrong decision. When O’Brien left the pitch we lost all intensity in the midfield; his running and tireless work really is under appreciated. We simply didn’t have the same guile or commitment, and I think the goals could have been avoided if we were more combative. He had sprinklings of quality too, so all in all a good afternoon for Jim.
Rodrigues - 7
You cannot fault the effort this man puts in, and once again he was looked to to carry the side in a difficult game. He did look the most likely to create something, but his timing with his shots was slightly off, and he really needs that first goal to get going. I’m convinced that when he does get that first goal the floodgates will open. Wasn’t able to make the difference ultimately but once again the class was evident.
Scott - 7
Got the goal, with a classic Cedwyn Scott finish, giving the keeper the eyes before smashing it into the near post. He looked the more threatening of the two strikers, and again I think Williams got his subs wrong when he took Scott off for Castro. Scott did miss a 1v1 in the first half, a chance you would expect any of our players to take, never mind a finisher of Ced’s quality. He did atone for this error with the goal, but he might be asking what if after that miss.
Langstaff - 6
Worked tirelessly for the team, and had limited chances. He played the full 90, and broke clean through after a foul on Rodrigues, but instead of taking the shot on his left he bizarrely decided to cut inside onto his right, losing the chance in the process. He didn’t get a goal, which is rare for a goal scorer like Langstaff, and he will be desperate to put that right when he travels to one of his former sides this Saturday.
Castro - 5
I was very complimentary about Quevin after his debut during the week, but I was really unimpressed by this substitute appearance. Castro lacked any sort of work rate, and often jogged round the pitch, showing a lack of desire. He did burst into life in the final third, and overlapped Nemane really well. His final ball into the box was actually really good too, show he certainly has quality, and showed evidence of his pedigree, but on that showing he looks more of a luxury player than an impact sun.
Mitchell - 7
You can’t really fault Kairo’s sun appearance at the weekend; he did everything that was asked of him, bringing a real physical presence to our forward line. However, after he came on we seemed to switch styles, and of course this isn’t Mitchell’s fault, but I felt it made us less threatening. We opted to play the ball long time Mitchell after his arrival, and to his credit he won the vast majority of the aerial battles. He’d get up and win a flick on, but neither Langstaff nor Ruben got close enough to Mitchell for the flick-ons to really matter. A real shame as he worked hard with no reward.
A trip to York awaits the Magpies who will be keen to put right some of Saturday's wrongs. However, The Minstermen have had a decent start to life back in Tier 5, just 3 points behind Notts and joint best defence in the league having conceded just 7 goals, 3 of those at home. Preview to follow later this week.
As always, thanks for reading.
Your Notts County Stats Team:
Richard - @notts_stats
Tom - @tomhwilliams23
Colin - @Colin_Sisson