Report | Solihull Moors (h)
Notts County 1 - 0 Solihull Moors | Vanarama National League | 29 August 2022
Notts made it back to back victories for the first time this season, claiming their biggest scalp in the process by beating promotion contenders Solihull Moors 1-0.
It was a battle of two undefeated sides, who between them had hit 12 goals in 2 games, but it was to be a game decided by a single goal, one struck by the unlikeliest goal scorer: Adam Chicksen.
Chicksen was a man frozen out by Neal Ardley, the man in the opposite dugout, but it was the Zimbabwean full back who had the last laugh, by scoring the decisive goal.
Luke Williams made 2 changes to the side that thumped Halifax, with Geraldo Bajrami and Ruben Rodrigues returning to the side in place of Sam Austin and Jim O’Brien, but arguably the biggest talking point was Aden Baldwin being handed a second start in 3 days, despite initially being a doubt for selection against Halifax.
Notts started the game the better side, and in truth the balance of play never really shifted. Louie Moulden, Solihull’s loan keeper, had to be at his best throughout the first half, and his back four were under constant pressure in the opening 10 minutes.
Langstaff saw a header diverted wide after 4 minutes, and just moments later Bajrami went close from a Palmer free kick. Solihull however were resolute, and began to frustrate their hosts, typified by a long range effort from Baldwin which missed the target by a large margin.
Unlike the last game at Meadow Lane Notts got Ruben Rodrigues much more involved, and just before the half hour mark he received Langstaff’s pass but saw his shot blocked.
Langstaff found the Portuguese forward again on 35 minutes, but this time his shot failed to hit the target, and a familiar pattern began to emerge; Notts were dominating, but unable to get the all important break through.
The link up play between Rodrigues and Langstaff continued to be strong, but this time the roles were reversed, with Langstaff slipped through 2 minutes later, only for him to be forced wide by Moulden closing the angle.
Solihull did hit back, forcing 2 good blocks from Brindley and Baldwin, but Notts had the 2 best chances of the half on the stroke of half time, with Ruben having a strike cleared off the line, before Scott squandered a huge chance, opting to try and pass to Langstaff rather than shoot, with the pass ultimately cut out, sending the two sides into the break at deadlock.
The second half started as the first ended; with Notts on top, but with the visitors doing a good job of frustrating the Magpies.
Langstaff had a duo of good chances, first played free by Ruben on 49 mins, and then again by Bajrami in the 53rd, but both times his shots failed to test the keeper. On the hour mark, despite being on top, Notts still hadn’t got the opening goal, forcing Luke Williams into his first change of the afternoon, with Sam Austin replacing Cedwyn Scott.
Austin’s exclusion from the side caused a surprise pre game, and once again the midfielder had a profound impact from the bench, as just 3 minutes after he entered the action Notts finally got what they deserved.
Nemane received the ball high and wide, before laying the ball back to Matty Palmer, who looked up before playing a beautiful ball towards the back post. Unmarked, Chicksen ghosted in and finished with surprising efficiency, putting the ball into the net first time.
Chicksen’s first of the season and Notts’ first of the game, its pleasing to see the 30 year old get on the team sheet, a pay off for all the hard work he has already put in. A consummate professional, Chicksen looks to be adding another attacking facet to his game under Luke Williams, playing with more intent in the final third, his goal a great example of this.
Ardley looked to change things for Solihull as a result of the goal, bringing both Callum Maycock and Alex Reid into the game in search of the equaliser, but the latter’s only involvement in the game was a yellow card on 80 minutes.
Luke Williams too made changes as he looked to take the sting out of the game, with Kairo Mitchell replacing Langstaff, and just 3 minutes after his introduction Mitchell had a chance to kill the game dead. Much like he did against Halifax he shunned the pass, this time to Rodrigues, instead choosing to shoot. Unfortunately, unlike on Saturday, Mitchell was unable to find the target, and probably made the wrong decision on this occasion. Whilst it is great to see the forward growing in confidence, he must learn when to pass or when to shoot; he is already silencing his critics, so there is an argument to suggest he doesn’t need to try and force it more than he needs to.
Chicksen went into the book in the 88th minute, before Rodrigues attempted the spectacular, spotting Moulden off his line, but putting just a little too much onto his 50 yard attempt as it cleared the Moors cross bar by a couple of feet.
Jim O’Brien entered the action in the 90th minute, and subsequently went into the book for a professional foul; O’Brien did exactly what he was brought on to do, so for once his usual booking was pleasing. O’Brien had a chance himself saved in added time, but the miss didn’t matter in the end, as the ref called time on a 90 minutes Notts dominated from start to finish. Notts were extremely good value for their 1-0 victory, and will feel they could have had 2 or 3 more on another day; a performance that would have pleased Luke Williams.
Match stats below and a dominating display in all areas.
Notts recorded their highest xG of the season so far whilst Solihull recorded their lowest. In fact The Magpies' domination is clear in the playing style radar where Solihull matched the hosts in challenge intensity but just couldn't cope with the Notts press which coupled with the higher possession saw big gains in overall territory.
In complete contrast to the game at Halifax where Notts scored 4 goals from as many shots on target we were left dumbstruck at seeing just 5 shots on target from 23, especially when given the higher than average xG.
However, based on the xG Notts had an xPTS of 2.48 and an expected win percentage of 76.94% which further confirms their dominance.
Both Langstaff and Rodrigues had good chances with the latter seeing one effort cleared off the line. The pleasing thing is the goal attempts were shared throughout the team with no less than 9 players getting in on the act.
We couldn't let this one pass without taking a closer look at Geraldo Bajrami. We will be publishing a more detailed look at Bajrami later in the week but for now we will focus on how he compared to Solihull's Jamey Osborne.
Osborne certainly had his work cut out as he found himself playing a lot deeper than he would normally experienced thanks to the Notts press.
The midfielders frustration was visibly growing throughout the game and finally came to a head with a booking in the second half after several warnings from the match official Gareth Rhodes.
Osborne isn't a player who is used to losing the ball but 16 ball losses is double his normal losses per 90 minutes.
by contrast, Bajrami had just 7 losses but also completed a massive 93% of his passes and was successful with 71% of his total actions further highlighting his impressive overall display.
Goals + Assists:
Adam Chicksen on the board after his neat finish and Matty Palmer with his first assist of the season.
Slocombe - 7 - Looked more confident and had a couple of simple saves to make. Distribution was ok but there was still a few heart in mouth moments between him and Baldwin when playing out from the back.