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Report | Wealdstone (a)

Wealdstone 1 - 6 Notts County | Vanarama National League | 25 October 2022

500+ Notts fans made one of the longest Tuesday night trips down to Wealdstone, and were well rewarded for their effort as they witnessed a resounding 6-1 victory. Despite the fact Wealdstone were 3rd bottom of the form table coming into this one it certainly wasn’t an easy proposition, but Notts’ quality made it seem as such, running the show and completely dominating from start to finish.

Team sheet Gateshead vs Notts County

Wealdstone boss Stuart Maynard was particularly complimentary of the travelling Pies, as he claimed ‘I think that’s the best team that I’ve probably ever witnessed in the National League’, high praise indeed, and probably deserved considering Notts had just put 6 past his side. It’s an even bigger achievement than some will realise too; until they lost to Dorking last week 3-1, Wealdstone had not lost a game by more than 1 goal, so the fact Notts won by a 5 goal margin speaks volumes about the quality of performance.

The Notts faithful were in fine voice all evening long, and the Magpies almost gave them cause to celebrate just 10 seconds in, as a set play from the opening kick off saw Bajrami set Ruben free, only for Sam Howes to make a fine stop. The save was made in vain though as moments later Notts did take the lead through Macaulay Langstaff, something which was of no surprise around the ground. Langstaff picked the ball up on the edge of the area, before shifting it onto his right, curling the ball into the top right corner. A superb finish, and one the travelling support were grateful for as from their vantage point the top corner was the only part of the goal visible!

Notts continued to pile on the pressure, only to have a shout for a penalty on Palmer waved away. One of the pivotal moments of the game happened just minutes later, as Brindley went into the book, which at the time seemed incredibly harsh. Wealdstone’s only forays into the County box had been from set pieces, as Jack Cook had scored from an offside position earlier, and the resultant free kick from the Brindley yellow provided the Stones with their best chance of the game. Barrett, this time in an onside position, found himself completely unmarked in the area, but he was unable to get any real connection on the ball, with it racing away from danger. Still, the warning signs were there for Notts that they needed another goal for some breathing room.

On a night that showcased some great free flowing football it appeared to be the set pieces which were having the biggest impact. Notts won a free kick in a central position, with Rodrigues standing over it, after having an earlier effort from a similar position saved. This time however he did not choose to shoot, instead catching everyone unawares by sweeping the ball out to the left hand side, where Adam Chicksen was waiting unmarked. The Zimbabwean wing back made no mistake, gathering himself before firing a hard, low effort into the far corner to double Notts’ lead. This was Chicksen’s 4th goal of the season, in a week where goal diversification had been a big talking point.

It wouldn’t remain 2-0 for long though, as Notts pressed their advantage, playing good football in the process. This time it was another unlikely scorer, Matty Palmer, who swept home, coolly finishing from the edge of the area. Nemane had done well down the right, and provided his 1st assist of the night, laying the ball off for Palmer who had drifted into a good position. It meant Notts were out of sight after just 30 minutes, leaving the travelling support wondering how many the Magpies could score.

Brindley’s passing had been a little off all night, and Wealdstone almost made him pay as Tarryn Allarakhia got down the left, playing a sumptuous ball across the 6 yard box. The inviting cross was met by Matthews, who looked destined to score on his first Wealdstone start. However, Sam Slocombe pulled off one of the saves of the season, getting down low to save from point blank range and keep Notts 3 ahead.

The scare seemed to spur Notts into life again, as Nemane once again got forward down the right, before checking back and playing the ball into Ruben. Rodrigues’ searching cross evaded Scott and Langstaff who were waiting, but Adam Chicksen once again got forward, and made no mistake in grabbing his second, rifling the ball into the top corner, one of the finest finishes we will see all season. A resounding finish to a lovely team goal, and one that pushes Adam Chicksen onto 5 goals for the season, 1 more than Kabongo Tshimanga.

That goal sent the sides into the break at 4-0 to the visitors, forcing Maynard to make one change at half time, bringing Mundle-Smith on for Barrett. The change didn’t help influence much though, as straight from the kick off Nemane broke away down the right, showing more directness and confidence in his play than ever, taking on a man before firing a low shot towards goal. In fairness Howes may have saved it had it not taken a slight nick off of Elerewe to take it right into the bottom corner. This meant Notts had a 5-0 lead just after the restart, throwing whatever Maynard had said to his men at half time out of the window.

Langstaff had made himself a nuisance all night, and never stopped running, really coming into his own in the second half. It seemed inevitable that he would grab his second, but Sam Howes made a smart stop to deny the prolific striker. Just after the save Notts fans were almost sent into raptures as Chicksen got the ball out on the left before cutting inside onto his right. Often we see a reluctance from the full back to use his weaker foot, but not on this occasion, as he connected sweetly with the ball, but it fizzed just over, denying him of a hattrick.

It wouldn’t take long for Notts to be celebrating a 6th though, as Rodrigues once again showed his class, threading the ball between two defenders, picking out a darting Nemane run. His cut back was palmed away by Howes, but it summed up Wealdstone’s night as the ricochet hit Bajrami, who in truth knew nothing about it as the ball rebounded into the back of the net. Still, nobody could have any grumblings about the scoreline, and Notts had proven good value for their goals. Langstaff almost added a 7th, once again firing just wide, but showing not only how dangerous he is but also displaying great movement to create the chance.

The hosts did get their goal on the hour mark, as some complacency just started to creep into Notts’ game. Notts gave danger man Allarakhia too much time on the edge of the area, and he was able to flick the ball through to Obiero, who somehow had evaded the attention of both Cameron and Chicksen. The young forward made no mistake, rifling the ball past Slocombe at the near post, a goal the Notts keeper couldn’t do anything about.

Nemane’s fine day came to an end 5 minutes later, as he and Scott made way for Adebayo-Rowling and Austin, both of whom impressed from the bench. However, neither would get the chance to play in a full 11 for long, as Brindley would receive a second yellow for a pull back, preventing Olomola from running clear. Not only was it a poor decision to make a foul whilst on a yellow card, but when the side are 5 goals to the good surely the decision has to be to let the attacker run free and trust Slocombe to make the save. Whilst the first yellow was extremely harsh, Brindley can have no complaints about this one, and if he had not already been on a yellow he may have seen red anyway as he was the last man.

The red card didn’t weaken Notts, and if anything it awakened the Magpies, who began to control the game a lot better. Bajrami dropped back into defence, but you couldn’t really tell that the team in lilac were down a man, such was the control they exerted over the ball. Langstaff would have his best chance of the game, as a long punt from Slocombe sent him clean through. Langstaff showed incredible control to pluck the ball out of the sky, setting himself to shoot on his left. His shot looked good, beating Howes, but it hit the base of the post, denying him on a night that just wasn’t going his way. Still, the run, movement and touch were perfect, and the finish was just fractions off of being so too.

Aden Baldwin finally made his return to action after 6 weeks out, getting in crucial minutes ahead of the weekend, where he is almost guaranteed a start due to Brindley’s suspension. He had a solid game, but minutes after his arrival Notts had a scare, as Slocombe was once again guilty of overplaying in an away game, but this time he was able to scramble back to prevent a repeat of James McShane’s goal away at Dorking.

Adebayo-Rowling was particularly threatening down the right for the remainder of the game, showing both great physical skills but also technical ones in terms of his delivery. The pick of the bunch came in the final minute as he whipped a ball in, one which looked destined for Langstaff, only for the in form forward to just evade the ball. Still, a fantastic performance landed Notts their biggest win of the season, and saw them maintain their 3 point lead at the top of the National League.

Analysing the key match data we see a few recurring themes that have become synonymous with Luke Williams' Notts County.

Possession has been a big factor in Notts' play this season, but Wealdstone are a team who also like to keep the ball, yet The Magpies still managed to record over 63% possession.

The possession stats are backed up by some incredible passing stats for the second game on the trot with Notts stringing together over 700 passes with some 635 of them finding their target, just shy of 90% accuracy.

In what was potentially going to be a tighter game than we experienced 17 shots at goal with 12 on target and 6 finding the back of net does much to confirm the clinical nature of The Magpies display.

That said, Langstaff was unusually off target with what was one of his easier chances meaning that his 1 goal came from a combined xG of 1.27.

Geraldo Bajrami's ricocheted goal was the highest value xG attempt for Notts at 0.61 and all things considered 6 goals from chances with a combined xG value of 2.75 is some return.

Despite the scoreline the hosts did have their chances with Matthews the biggest culprit missing a good chance and Obiero's goal was well taken from a chance worth 0.19 xG.

Player Watch:

Following on from his extraordinary performance in this game we will be posting a separate data led article of Notts County's man of the hour Adam Chicksen, hopefully between now and the Torquay preview.

With that being the case we thought we would highlight another player's performance from the win at Wealdstone.

Now we are aware we covered Aaron Nemane in a previous article but the fact he is becoming such a key figure for Notts under Luke Williams is testament to the work the player and the coaching staff have put in so far this season.

This is highlighted by the increase in Nemanes successful actions. In his first 5 appearance this season he averaged 55.60% successful actions, however his last 5 games have seen that figure rise dramatically to 70.00%.

Even more remarkable is the phenomenal improvement in his defensive play which currently has him winning 90.60% of his defensive duels in his last 5 appearances compared to 60.00% in his first 5 appearances.

As for this game against Wealdstone Nemane's stats continue to impress, having a massive impact for his 68 minutes on the field. 73.00% successful actions, 84.00% accurate passes, 69.00% of all duels won, 2 assists and a goal!

It's clear to see how the diminutive Frenchman is quickly becoming a fan favourite.