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Report | Southend United (h)

Vanarama National League | 21 February 2023


On Pancake Tuesday Notts didn’t see their title hopes get flattened, as they scored 4 for the 3rd consecutive game. The script wasn’t flipped, as Macaulay Langstaff was once again amongst the goals, adding 2 to bring his tally to 32 for the season.

The pre match selection surprised a few, with Jodi Jones once again deployed at RWB. This created an interesting narrative down that flank, with Jack Bridge, a man familiar with Notts fans, also playing on his weaker side. The key battle would be through the middle though, where Langstaff and Rodrigues would continually find space between Southend’s makeshift back 3.

This would be the story of the opening goal, as a Bostock cross into Langstaff was only cleared as far as Rodrigues. Driving forwards, Rodrigues attracted the attention of 2 Southend CBs, allowing Langstaff to ghost into the space left behind them. A simple pass through to Langstaff unlocked the defence, and he made no mistake, firing a delightful finish into the top corner. His 31st goal of the season, and not his last of the evening.

Moments later Rodrigues had a chance of his own after wing back Jones kept the ball in on the right hand side. Unlike his assist earlier however, Rodrigues shot missed its target:

That wouldn’t keep Notts at bay though, as just a minute later they had doubled their lead, as Sam Austin, who had been finding good space in Southend’s half, finally got his 1st league goal of the season. Jones again was involved, with his pass finding Bostock on the edge of the area. The experienced midfielder showed his class, clipping a wonderful ball towards the back post. The trajectory and shape of the ball made it hard to defend, but immense credit still must go to Austin. He beat the much larger Hobson in the air, stealing a yard on him, showing his desire to get there first. His lunging header rippled the back of the net to give the Magpies a 2 goal cushion.

For the remainder of the half Notts looked in control, and 2 half chances were all that materialised. First Rodrigues forced a smart stop from Southend’s loan keeper Noukeu, but it would have been judged offside anyway. Langstaff then saw his snapshot from some way out, roughly 25 yards, go just wide, another warning sign from the striker.

The second half kicked off in a completely different vein, as Southend almost hit back immediately. Wing back Scott-Morriss, who we highlighted as a threat in our preview, got in behind the Notts back line, but his cross was well cut out by Slocombe, especially with Hyde lurking.

A couple of half chances fell to either side. First Notts’ wing backs combined, with Jones getting on the end of a Chicksen cross, but his header could only go over. Southend then looked to be getting a foothold, playing some good stuff, but Harry Taylor had strayed into an offside position.

The game was completely killed off as a contest 10 minutes into the 2nd period. With Notts pinned in their own half, a poor pass fell to the feet of Rodrigues. His bursting run up the pitch saw Notts transition extremely quickly, skipping away from Southend men as they looked to scramble back. A challenge in desperation from Cav Miley was evaded by Rodrigues, as Langstaff peeled away to the right hand side. He held his position, forcing Rodrigues to pass into his feet. However, it wasn’t a decision he regretted, as Langstaff fired a venomous strike across goal. It gave the keeper no chance, and with that clinical finish he had 32 goals for the season.

A series of substitutions would follow, with Dan Mooney, a name that’ll crop up later, and Callum Powell coming on in place of Fonguck and Hyde for the visitors. 5 minutes later Notts made a change of their own, with goalscorer Langstaff making way for Francis, meaning no back to back hattricks for the inform striker.

With just under 20 minutes remaining Southend had their best chance of the game, and arguably the biggest miss of the game as a whole. Danger man Jack Bridge got forward for one of the first times that evening, and wreaked havoc, as on his weaker left foot he played a dangerous low ball across the face of goal. A run by substitute Powell dragged Cameron away from the back post, leaving the other sub Dan Mooney a superb chance. On his weaker foot though he could only wrap his shot round the outside of the post, squandering the highest xG chance of the game.

Jones, who looked spent in that exchange, made way for O’Brien, meaning Austin shifted over to the right hand side. From that position he looked extremely threatening, putting in a good cross, which evaded black and white shirts, before delivering a decisive blow. Bostock was once again involved, and his wonderful range of passing was on display yet again, curling a beautiful ball to the back post. An excellent first touch allowed Austin to get the ball out of his feet, but from the angle he still had a lot to do. With a taste of scoring following his earlier goal, Austin rifled the ball into the roof of the net to give Notts a 3rd consecutive 4 goal haul.

Both sides made their final switches, with Bajrami replacing Chicksen and Sardat replacing Taylor for the visitors. This change meant that Notts ended the game with no recognised wing backs, and instead with 7 central midfield players on the pitch. One last chance was produced, as Austin had a chance of a hattrick, but his header was off target as Notts secured a 7th consecutive win.


Despite being one of the most controlled 90 minutes you'll ever witness the xG data gives us a chance to analyse how low value chances can present you with the suggestion that a game was actually much closer than it looked.

Based on the xG the conclusion is that this was a game of fine margins and one where the points maybe should have been shared as confirmed by the xPTS and expected win%.

It's important therefore that we take a much closer look at that data to try and add some context to the narrative.

Firstly, despite Notts seemingly cruising to a 4-0 win they fashioned just 3 chances more than Southend. This in itself could impact on the final xG totals being very close.

Secondly, Dan Mooney's second half miss for the visitors had an xG value of 0.59, a big miss in terms of xG and compares to an average of just 0.06 xG per shot across their other 7 chances. In some respects that skews the data a little, much like a penalty at 0.76 xG.

Thirdly, and more importantly we need to take a closer look at Notts' chances. Austin's headed first goal recorded the highest xG value at 0.30, this represents a 'good' chance, and one that he took well. Compare this to his second at 0.13 xG and the combined value for his two goals amounts to 0.43, still 0.16 less than Mooney's miss.

Now let's consider Langstaff's goals which recorded an xG value 0.16 for the first and 0.09 for his second, this leaves you with a combined xG for both of his goals of just 0.25.

This is important because it provides an indication of how clinical both Notts scorers were in front of goal, clearly showcasing the quality of their finishing.

So, despite the xG match totals suggesting a close result we have identified at least three metrics that need to be considered when analysing match xG data.

On a broader level this allows us to identify certain trends within a player or team and help us identify how they are performing compared to expectations based on expected goals for and against.

For example, Notts are scoring an average of 2.57 goals per game so far this season. Compare this to their xG average per game of 2.12 and it's clear to see that they are performing higher than expected, 0.45 difference per game, that's a haul of just over 15 goals added to the season total. If this were produced over a smaller sample of goals it would be right to consider if luck had played a part and if the output levels were sustainable, but 34 games into a 46 game season is a big enough sample to acknowledge the quality of the players scoring the goals.


Season stats updated below.

Notts continue to maintain a 5 point gap at the top over Wrexham, who of course have a couple of games in hand.

With a PPG of 2.44 Luke Williams' men are currently on course to amass over 112 points with just 12 games left to play this season.

Notts have managed to hold first place after 19 of their 34 games and with the win last night have netted an unbelievable 88 goals in the league, conceding just 30 giving a goal difference of +58, that's as many goals as third place Woking have scored in total.

Luke Williams now has a league win percentage of 73.53% and 70.27% if you throw in the three cup games.


Player Stats - National League:

Sam Slocombe continues his run of playing every single second of league football this season, however, his yellow for alleged time wasting last night means he now has 5 yellow cards to his name.

Langstaff's 32 goals in 2,929 minutes means he is currently scoring a goal every 91.53 minutes of football he plays. Bear in mind these are total minutes included those played in added time so his goals per minute would look better if 90 minute per game was used.

Sam Austin now has 6 goals to his name if you include his 4 cup goals and Ruben Rodrigues' two assists means he has directly contributed to 26 goals this season.

Finally, a special mention to John Bostock who seems to be finding his grove, adding two more assists to his stats.


Saturday sees Dagenham & Redbridge visit the Lane for a 5.20pm kick off in front of the BT Sport cameras.

Until then, preview to follow and as always thanks for reading.



For Notts County Stats:

Richard - @notts_stats

Tom - @tomhwilliams23

Colin - @Colin_Sisson



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