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.
Brindley - 7 - Another carbon-copy performance from Brindley, does exactly what it says on the tin.
Baldwin - 7 - Despite having the continuous feeling that he was about to break down and need replacing the fact he managed to get through two games in 48 hours is probably a testament to his attitude and determination and based on this performance will be a valuable addition to the squad.
Cameron - 7 - Assured as ever and as with Brindley did exactly what was needed. Did his bit in contributing to the press by keeping the Notts back line high and organised throughout.
Nemane - 7 - Some excellent wing play and certainly had Moors panicking down their left side. Felt he faded a little at times and could have done a bit more with his defending duties but his transformation from winger to wingback is definitely progressing.
Chicksen - 8 - Very quickly becoming one of my favourite Notts players in recent years. Took his goal extremely well and did a great job of spoiling Dallas and Sbarra's link up play.
Palmer - 8 - Seemed to really enjoy the freedom he got from playing alongside Bajrami. Was a constant thorn in the side for Solihull in the middle of the park, great cross for the goal and rarely put a foot wrong.
Bajrami - 9 - Like many I walked out of Meadow Lane yesterday absolutely gushing over his performance. There wasn't a blade of grass he didn't cover and his stats, as highlighted above just confirm what a great game he had. MOTM.
Rodrigues - 8 - Was visibly frustrated early on and was struggling to hold his position at times in an attempt to go and seek out the ball. That said the more frustrated he got the better he got and ended with the kind of performance we have become accustomed to seeing from him. Did well not to kick Mitchell into row Z of the Kop!
Scott - 7 - Linked up well with Langstaff, Rodrigues and Palmer and looks a constant threat. Will be remembered mostly for his back heel pass for an absent Langstaff when it might have been better to score. However, really like what he brings to the squad and look forward to seeing more of him.
Langstaff - 7 - Was unfortunate to pull a shot just wide in the first half and had a couple more sniffs but it just wasn't to be his day in front of goal. His energy and pressing were exemplary however and is a real asset.
Austin - 8- This guy knows how to impact a game, like with Langstaff and to some extent Scott his energy and tenacity is second to none, and he also has great vision and a decent cross on him.
Mitchell - 7 - Offers something different and continues to impress this season. all the talk will be about his failure to offer up a goal on a plate for Rodrigues but he had a great impact in how Notts managed the game in the latter stages, battling tirelessly up front to help keep the pressure off the Notts back line.
O'Brien - 7 - Not really on the pitch long enough to properly assess but showed his experience with a naughty foul that broke up a threatening Solihull move and was unlucky he couldn't quite connect with his shot in the dying moments despite finding himself in a great position.
A few days for the players to recover and focus on the next challenge, that being Dagenham away. The Daggers have had a mixed bag of a start to the current campaign but managed to stick 4 past a Bromley on Monday, a side that had just won 3 games on the trot.
A full preview out soon.
As always, thanks for reading.
Your Notts County Stats Team:
Richard - @notts_stats
Tom - @tomhwilliams23
Colin - @Colin_Sisson