FC Halifax Town 1 - 4 Notts County | Vanarama National League | 27 August 2022
Notts got their first 3 points on the road by smashing 4 past a struggling Halifax side, just 48 hours before a clash with Solihull. Despite the quick turnaround, Luke Williams did not rotate his side too heavily, and the 41 year old coach reaped the rewards as Notts ran away with it.
Ruben Rodrigues missed out through illness, whilst duo Sam Austin and Cedwyn Scott were rewarded for their heroics from the bench last weekend.
The first half hour was fairly uneventful at the Shay, with Notts enjoying what little chances were created but struggled to break down a well organised Halifax.
Millington’s men almost became the architects of their own downfall after an under hit back pass put Johnson under pressure, but the 6' 7" keeper was rarely tested inside the first 40 minutes.
Just before the break Notts did get the break through, as Sam Austin repaid the faith Williams showed in him, whipping a ball into the box which Langstaff managed to scramble home at the back post. This was his 5th goal of the season, and typified how Notts’ new striker has started; a finisher with real predatory instincts. Langstaff seems to have the Midas touch at the moment, and it wouldn’t be the last time his name would feature in this encounter.
A minute later it did seem that Notts would do what Notts always seem to do away from home and squander their lead. Sam Slocombe’s position is now under doubt following the Magpies capture of Leicester keeper Brad Young, but Slocombe certainly did his case as starter a huge favour with a big save to deny Harvey Gilmour’s strike. Slocombe has had a good start to the season, and this stop was crucial; had Halifax equalised they may have grown in confidence.
Following this chance Notts perhaps realised they needed to kill the game off, and in stoppage time they did just that, with Cedwyn Scott getting his first goal in a Notts shirt.
Notts initially had a corner cleared, but Jim O’Brien kept the ball alive on the right, before lifting the ball into a dangerous area for Scott to head home. Notts fans will be excited that Scott is off the mark, especially in his first start, but credit must also be heaped upon O’Brien. He didn’t give up on the chance, and showed real quality with the cross, answering the criticism levelled at him during the week.
Halifax actually started the brighter of the two sides in the second half, with Dieseruvwe getting his first sight of goal following a dangerous ball from Belizean international Capello.
However on the hour mark Notts killed the game off completely, as Langstaff rounded Johnson to roll the ball home for his second and Notts’ third. Langstaff was played through on goal via a perfectly weighted pass from striker partner Scott, and Langstaff made no mistake.
This marked the strikers third brace of the season, and just like London busses, it appears when he scores 2 come along at once.
Williams then began making changes, with Scott first making way for Bajrami, before Nemane was replaced by Tobi Adebayo-Rowling, with the latter making his first appearance in a Notts shirt. The new man played with confidence, looking to take on the opposition, but whether Luke Williams saw enough to consider starting him remains to be seen.
Langstaff had a few half chances to complete the hat trick, but after 70 minutes he too was pulled and replaced with Kairo Mitchell, with Luke Williams keeping his in form striker fit ahead of Monday’s clash with Solihull.
Halifax did get a consolation in the 83rd minute, with Gilmour this time beating Slocombe, leaving the County keeper rooted.
This was Halifax’s first goal of the season, and some Notts fans will be disappointed that it was the Magpies who allowed Halifax to score their opening goal of the campaign, however, these concerns were silenced a few minutes later when substitute Mitchell ran onto a misplaced back pass, before rolling the ball past a stranded Johnson.
This was Mitchell’s second goal from the bench this season, and the Grenadian forward seems to grow in confidence every week.
It ended 4-1 to a travelling Notts side who looked ruthless throughout. Luke Williams seems to have instilled a real grit into a side which often looked too soft last season, and the arrival of a real goal scorer has certainly aided proceedings. Scoring 4 goals on the road is always good, especially against a side who only conceded 35 last season, and confidence is needed as Notts welcome promotion rivals Solihull to Meadow Lane on Monday afternoon.
Match stats next and the result not really an indication of how the game actually played out.
Macaulay Langstaff further confirmed his clinical finishing attributes scoring twice from two chances with a total xG of 1.06.
Dieseruvwe for Halifax had just the one chance all game and it was a big chance at 0.58 xG from just a few yards out.
Gilmour's acrobatic volley that brought out a fantastic save from Slocombe came in at 0.20 xG slightly lower than his goal at 0.24 xG.
Just the 13 attempts in the game in total, 7 to Notts and 6 to Halifax.
Based on the xG numbers, xPTS came out at 1.66 for Notts and 1.00 for Halifax. Win % 43.89 for Notts and 21.94 for Halifax, suggesting Notts were just about good for the win.
For the Chesterfield game we looked at forwards Langstaff and Asante. For this game we take a closer look at the keepers, Sam Slocombe and Sam Johnson.
Regardless of league position this was always going to be a close game and the men between the sticks were likely to have an impact on the final result.
There was a fair bit of noise online regarding Slocombe's position as number 1 at Notts, especially with the loan signing of Leicester City's U23 keeper Brad Young.
And to be fair to Slocombe he did a great job of silencing any critics with a near perfect performance, topped off by what could well have been a game changing save shortly after Notts opened the scoring near the end of the first half.
Additionally he was pretty much faultless with his distribution completing 28 of 32 passes with 13 of those being long ball passes of which he found his target on 9 occasions.
Johnson was a big part of Halifax's success last season helping them to boast the best defence in the league, conceding just 35 goals in 44 regular league games.
Despite finding themselves at the foot of the table, before yesterdays game they had still only conceded a goal a game, which considering the lack of goals at the other end of the pitch was some feat. However, Johnson made just the one save from the 5 shots on target by Notts and may have hoped to have done better with the Mitchell goal.
Johnson is a very good keeper at this level and despite Halifax's current predicament there won't be many occasions where he concedes 4 goals in a game.
For Slocombe, the addition of Brad Young to the ranks might just be the push he needs to hold his place and if his performances continue in the same vein as yesterday's he will surely continue to silence his critics.
Goals + Assists:
Langstaff averaging a goal a game.
Thanks to Jacob Daniel (@jacobncm) for his player ratings.
Slocombe - 8 - Had a quiet afternoon overall, but marked up for one fantastic save at a vital time between Notts’ first two goals. Distribution was noticeably more direct than usual, presumably because of a bobbly pitch.
Brindley - 7 - Can usually cut and paste these with Brinds, solid afternoon, composed on the ball, swept up well with his pace.
Baldwin - 7 - Some wayward passing early on but grew into the game and looked much more defensively assured.
Cameron - 7 - Picked up an early yellow, but no worries other than that. Was a pretty comfortable afternoon for Notts’ back line.
Nemane - 6 - More quiet than he has been in the last couple of games, with Notts’ wing backs not really in the game as an attacking threat.
Chicksen - 6 - Much like Nemane, struggled to get involved going forward but no worries defensively.
Palmer - 6 - Had an interesting battle with Kian Spence, Halifax’s best player by some distance on the day. Not really a game or pitch that suited him.
O’Brien - 8 - Responded to the brouhaha after the Chesterfield game in the best possible way, with a performance full of energy and forward running. Popped up all over the place.
Austin - 7 - Visibly growing into his role in this team with each game, worked hard to press and deserved his assist. Should be nailed on as a starter now.
Scott - 7 - Still doesn’t look up to full fitness, but can’t argue with the output, getting his first Notts goal with a clever header and providing a fine through ball to Langstaff for the third.
Langstaff - 8 - Exciting. All you can really say about Langstaff is that, the moment Scott played him through one-on-one, there was no doubt in that away end it was a goal. Will score a lot this season.
Adebayo-Rowling - 6 - Good to see him get his debut, a couple of promising runs but did give the ball away in the lead up to Halifax’s consolation goal.
Mitchell - 8 - That work he’s done over the summer is really paying off, the big man looks quick, strong and confident, as shown by him turning down the pass to Austin and neatly finding the bottom corner himself.
Bajrami - 6 - Came on with the game won, didn’t have much opportunity or need to get himself involved.
A quick turnaround and we welcome Neal Ardley back to Meadow Lane on Bank Holiday Monday for it is likely to be a lively encounter against the leagues two top attacking sides at the moment.
Hopefully we will have a preview out early tomorrow.
As always, thanks for reading.
Your Notts County Stats Team:
Richard - @notts_stats
Tom - @tomhwilliams23
Colin - @Colin_Sisson