Oldham Athletic 2 - 2 Notts County | Vanarama National League | 01 January 2023
Despite putting in another dominant performance an improved Oldham Athletic did enough to unsettle The Magpies and put the breaks on their league title charge.
A 2-2 draw and a win for Wrexham the following day means the league favourites managed close the gap at the top to 2 points with a game in hand.
David Unsworth tried to mix things up a bit following the 4-1 defeat at Meadow Lane on Boxing Day reverting to a 4-4-2 formation, rather than the 5-3-2 he started with in that previous match.
The obvious difference on this occasion was a distinct increase in Oldham's intensity and tenacity off the ball, but the interesting aspect of this wasn't a high press, in fact the front two did little pressing of note, it was the fact Unsworth's men held a higher back line and pressed from midfield.
This actually had the effect of cancelling out Notts' own press that has been a trademark of Luke Williams Magpies this season.
In a game that saw a marauding Kyle Cameron step into the role of left wingback, both Notts goals came down the right with Aaron Nemane grabbing the plaudits for some great wing play.
Notts took the lead through Langstaff on 50 minutes. Returning from a short injury lay-off the league's hottest marksman got on the end of a low cross from Nemane who had done well to leave Oldham left back Mark Kitching in his wake.
The lead was short lived though. Just a few minutes later Slocombe did well to anticipate a long-ball break from Oldham and despite getting to the ball first his touch let him down resulting in a mix up with Cameron and the loose ball fell invitingly for midfielder Nathan Sheron who confidently swept the ball into an empty net from some 35 yards out.
A question mark hangs over Slocombe's decision not to put his laces through the ball but having done the difficult bit Cameron's inability to do the same in the melee that ensued left the Notts men a little red faced.
It wasn't long before Notts regained the lead with substitute Cedwin Scott, left out following a brace in the game at Meadow Lane, managed to score with his first touch. Matty Palmer managed to dissect the Oldham defence with an inch perfect pass inside the left back for Nemane to get on the end of. The wide man sent another dangerous low cross into the mix and Scott was there to slot the ball home after a block by an Oldham defender.
Notts really should have seen the game out but a clumsy challenge by Cameron from a Latics free kick saw the referee pointing to spot, and Joe Nuttall made sure of the equaliser sending Slocombe the wrong way for his second goal in two games for his new club.
That penalty was only the second shot at goal by Oldham and they could have nicked the win on 90 minutes when Notts got caught out down the Oldham left and a low cross into the six yard box saw Timmy Abraham lifting his effort over the bar from just a few yards out.
Watching the game live it felt like Oldham really upped their game following on from the Meadow Lane encounter. However, Notts still managed to dominate possession and construction stats.
That said for the 13 attempts Notts had on goal only 2 hit the target, the 2 highest value opportunities. Other than a couple of blocks by the Oldham defence keeping shots from Palmer and Langstaff at bay the other chances were of much lower value.
Oldham's xG is boosted by the penalty (0.76) and Timmy Abraham's last gasp effort was the highest value shot on goal in open play (0.69).
Based on the match xG and despite the penalty Notts had still done enough to win the game resulting in an expected win percentage of 46.67% compared to 23.78% for Oldham.
Additionally expected points (xPTS) for the match ended up 1.70 to Notts and 1.01 to Oldham.
Season stats updated below.
Despite the draw not a great deal has changed. Notts continue to hold on to top spot, for now, and at 2.32PPG are still looking at a possible 106 points for the season.
With Langstaff and Scott both on the scoresheet they now have 34 goals between them and a collective 44 goal contribution in the league.
The draw sees Luke Williams win% in the league drop to a paltry 68%, he really must do better!
On the road again on Saturday and a trip to Aldershot Town, not a fixture Notts have done particularly well from, losing all 3 of their games at The Recreation Ground in the previous 3 seasons.
Preview to follow.
As always thanks for reading and a Happy New Year!
For Notts County Stats:
Richard - @notts_stats
Tom - @tomhwilliams23
Colin - @Colin_Sisson