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Report | Southend United (a)

Southend United 2 - 2 Notts County | Vanarama National League | 08 November 2022

Team sheet Gateshead vs Notts County

Despite the poor weather around the country leading to several games being postponed, the contest at Roots Hall never looked in doubt, and it more than delivered in front of the BT Sport cameras. It was always likely to be a close contest, one which was extremely exciting; it saw 1st v 2nd in the form table clash, with unbeaten records of 8 and 9 respectively being put on the line.

The two sides were well matched both in terms of personnel and system; both sides lined up with a 5-2-1-2 formation, and both employed wingers filling in at wing back down one flank, which made for an intriguing battle throughout. It was the visitors who made the brighter start though, with Nemane getting free down the right, before supplying a good ball to Scott at the back post, but the 23 year old couldn’t get much of a connection on the ball.

That right flank would be the area of key battles in the game, as both Nemane and Bridge would take it in turns to get forward, and once again it was the French wing back who saw success, once again freed down the right, this time by Rodrigues, before once again finding Scott in the area. This time the forward was able to connect with a strike, but his left footed shot fizzed through a crowded box before going harmlessly wide.

Langstaff then fired a warning shot, as he ghosted into the area before being set free by Rodrigues, but his shot just went wide. Southend kept applying the pressure on the Magpies, pressing relentlessly, and this was no clearer evidenced than Callum Powell going into the book for a late challenge on Slocombe. Powell had been pressing the Notts keeper with intensity, but the yellow halted his progress somewhat.

Slocombe was then the centre of attention again, this time for all the wrong reasons, mis laying a pass for what must be the 4th away game in a row. He did however make amends, making a smart stop at the near post, however his distribution was somewhat of a problem, although not as large as the reaction online suggests.

That save kept the sides level at 0-0, but the score didn’t remain that way for long, as that man Langstaff got on the end of a scuffed Matty Palmer shot on the right hand side of the area. It seemed as if he had been forced too wide, but his low powerful strike just squeezed under Southend’s young keeper, another fantastic finish from the man in form. 18 goals this season is a great tally, more than many would have predicted his haul would be for the season as a whole.

That goal sent the sides into the break with the visitors ahead, and with no changes at the break Notts fans would have been optimistic their side could press their advantage in the second half, however that was not to be, as the Shrimpers kept the visitors pegged back, winning corner after corner. Their pressure eventually told, as Kensdale rose highest to send a looping header into the far corner, with Notts’ protestations that Kensdale had shoved Scott in the back waved away by the official.

It was up to Notts to respond, and respond they did, and it was the man who felt he was fouled, Scott, who rose to the occasion, smashing the ball into the near post in trademark fashion. He had been found on the left hand side, on the edge of the area, as Palmer supplied a well weighted pass, but the goal was all about the finish, a trademark one from Scott.

In the aftermath of the goal Notts made their first change, Austin replacing a struggling Bajrami, but the lead they had earned didn’t last long, as with 25 minutes to play Southend once again equalised. Whilst it was a great move from the Shrimpers, building from the back, playing a long ball to Bridge out on the left, who himself crossed well to Powell, a lot was left to be desired in Notts’ defending. First Nemane missed a crucial header, before Baldwin’s poor positioning meant he had to make a recovery challenge, one which he was never likely to win, getting the wrong side of Powell, before turning the ball past Slocombe to restore parity.

Adebayo-Rowling then entered the fray, as Notts once again looked to re take the lead, and their biggest chance of the game came, this time from a corner, but unfortunately for the Magpies the chance fell to defender Baldwin, whose volley was well blocked. This was Notts’ highest xG value chance of the game, so it’s a shame for the visitors that it didn’t fall to either Langstaff or Scott.

The game began to fizzle out somewhat, and Luke Williams had one last roll of the dice, bringing on Castro for Rodrigues, but it was an earlier substitute, Adebayo-Rowling, who almost provided the moment of magic to win the game, fizzing the ball into the back post where the opposite wing back, Chicksen, met the cross, but he was unable to continue his hot streak of scoring, spurning what proved to be the final chance of the game. A close game, one which Notts perhaps would feel they had the chances to win, but nevertheless a good point on the road, against tough opposition.

There is so much to analyse from this game it's difficult to know where to start so maybe the best thing would be to start at the top and work our way down.

Despite being a team that is averaging over 50% possession this season Southend relinquished having much of the ball by focussing their attentions on pressing the Notts back line.

From a spectators point of view the general feeling was that the home team did this relentlessly throughout the game and whilst there were some obvious moments of pressing from the Shrimpers, particularly targeting Slocombe when playing out from the back, Notts still managed to record nearly 68% of ball possession.

If we look at the pressing stats for both teams the data clearly suggests that Notts were the team that pressed the most, however, we should really try and ensure we analyse this data in context if it is to have any meaning beyond being a point scoring exercise.

PPDA or passes allowed per defensive action is a metric used to determine how much a team presses their opponents by calculating the number of passes an opponent makes in the attacking 60% of the pitch divided by the number of defensive actions, these being possession winning duels, tackles, interceptions and fouls.

It's worth taking a closer look at this match because the overall impression was that Southend pressed high and aggressively, and however much this appeared to be the case the data suggests otherwise. Notts allowed Southend a paltry 4.49 passes per defensive action but by contrast Southend allowed Notts a massive 13.27 passes before they intervened with a defensive action.

Whilst the data clearly defines Notts as pressing more than their hosts it doesn't take into account other elements of the game that might influence the outcome of PPDA for both sides.

We've already established that Notts had the lions share of the ball, that they build from the back and are also happy to recycle the ball if a progressive pass or run isn't available to them resulting in what is defined as deep circulation, a high quantity of possession based passes in the build up.

It's also worth noting that Notts do play with a high press of their own and the underlying factor in the case is their desire to recover an ball losses as quickly as possible. Knowing this makes it easier to understand the data and that the PPDA data is not a simple black or white equation, there are nuances in playing style that influence the resulting metrics and these should be considered when analysing the raw data.

There's no denying the game was played with a very high intensity with both teams pressing where they could, Southend employed a very high press to try and stifle the Notts build up whereas Notts' press was more apparent in the middle of the park but their pressing stats are also a by product of their possession based passing game.

Over the course of 90 minutes Notts actually created more goal scoring opportunities and this is further confirmed by the xG data.

Despite Notts going into the break with a goal lead the first half was actually a very even affair with both teams recording identical xG numbers. However, it was the second half where things really started to open up so no surprise there was another three goals. That said it was Notts who actually finished the game the strongest with two big chances late on for Baldwin and Chicksen, either of which would most likely have put the game to bed.

In fact based on the xG The Magpies expected win% was nearly double that of Southend's and xPTS came out at 1.65 - 1.04 in Notts' favour.

Callum Powell had the best of the chances for Southend and although their second equaliser appears to have been a Baldwin own goal, Powell appears to have been credited with it, meaning he had the highest value chances with a match xG of 0.47.

Langstaff recorded an xG of 0.40 with his goal having a value of 0.18, equally Scott's goal was afforded an xG value of just 0.08 meaning historically that chance would expect to be converted in 8 out of 100 attempts.

Player Ratings: (Tom)

Slocombe - 7

I thought he came in for some unnecessary criticism online, especially in his distribution. Southend pressed him, which many sides don’t, but all in all he had a decent game. Didn’t think he could do much about the second, but he does still have that mistake in him; I’m not sure there’s been an away game where one of his misplaced passes hasn’t led to a good opposition chance.

Nemane - 7

Didn’t have his best game down the right, but going forward he still looked a threat. He was up against Bridge who was arguably the best player on the pitch, so it’s possibly more a case of Bridge playing well than Nemane playing poorly. The stats back it up too; he had a decent game, just not as good as his usual standards.

Brindley - 6.5

Didn’t deal with the threat posed by Bridge down the left nearly as well as he usually would, and he just seemed a half step off it. He didn’t have a bad game, but by his usual high standards he was a little off it.

Baldwin - 6.5

Could have done much better with the second goal, as not only did he leave his man free in plenty of space, but he also got the wrong side of him, allowing him to get his shot away. His passes back to Slocombe were also a little off, often leaving Sam short, so overall he could have had a better game. He did play a lovely long pass to set Nemane free down the right though.

Cameron - 7

Skipper frustrated the opposition, showing his gamesmanship, winning fouls all over the pitch, sucking the life out of the game when we needed him to. Again his leadership