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Report | Woking (a)

Woking 2 - 3 Notts County | Vanarama National League | 08 October 2022

Team sheet Gateshead vs Notts County

Notts made the trip away to a side who had only lost one at home, against Wrexham with 10 men for over 70 minutes, was always going to be a tough proposition, but Notts made it look easy at times. Very much a game of two halves, The Magpies showed composure and professionalism late on, despite individual errors once again making things more difficult than needed.

Over 500 Notts fans made the trip South, and with 7 stands Woking were also well supported. The first 5 minutes was all one way traffic, all in favour of the hosts who had Notts pinned back into their own half. Rodrigues looked to get back, and brought down the Woking attacker. However, whilst it was certainly a foul, Rodrigues was very unlucky to go into the book for the foul, especially so early on. The referee had set a precedent, one which he failed to follow up on numerous times throughout the course of the game.

Notts responded well, taking the game to Woking, winning a free kick close to their box. Palmer smashed the effort into the wall, but if this was a warning shot, Woking didn’t heed the caution, as just a few moments later Chicksen drove into the box before being pulled down for a penalty. Ruben stepped up and duly dispatched of the penalty, sending keeper Craig Ross the wrong way in the process.

Notts may have felt fortunate to be 1-0 up, but they would have felt even more so just 5 minutes later, as they finally put together a move following a sustained period of pressure from the Cards.

Brindley had the ball just inside his own half before clipping the it into midfield into the path of Scott, who’s sumptuous chest down was met with an equally as glorious first time cross field pass from Rodrigues. This brought Chicksen into the game again, who had maintained great positioning out on the left. He once again showed he had the confidence to take on his opposite number before drilling a dangerous ball into the box, which was met by Scott who managed to steer the ball home to give Notts a 2 goal lead. A super start from Notts in terms of score line, but one that wasn’t reflective of how the game had gone.

Notts seemed to grow into the game, taking control of proceedings, but as is so often the case they became the architects of their own downfall. Often guilty of overplaying, Notts’ defence once again became unstuck. This time much of the blame must be shouldered by keeper Sam Slocombe, whose decision to pass out with little urgency whilst under pressure ultimately cost him, as James Daly closed the angle, deflecting the pass into the back of the net. A poor decision from a keeper who showed how vital he is to Notts’ just this week.

Notts were not deterred though, and whilst the atmosphere felt a little flat after such a mistake, the Magpies’ game did not, and they once again broke through on goal, and once again made no mistake in dispatching it. Credit must go to Langstaff, who got in front of Ross and managed to hook it free for Scott to tap into the empty goal. This was Scott’s second of the game and Notts’ third, restoring the 2 goal advantage before the break, something which would prove crucial.

The second half began in contrast to the first, with Notts in total control. Clearly Luke Williams had sent his men out in the second half to suck the life out of the game and manage the lead, and this is something they did with great effect, retaining possession whilst also maintaining an attacking threat. Both sides of the game plan were shortly after the break, as first Nemane went into the book for taking his time over a throw, before a sweeping Bajrami pass out wide to the aforementioned Nemane started a brilliant attack, which resulted in a left footed snapshot from Langstaff sailing over. Notts remained on top, and certainly looked the most likely to add another goal.

A litany of chances fell Notts’ way, as the Magpies really looked to press the advantage and kill the game off. First Scott took far too long to get his shot away, when a pass to Langstaff would have been the better option, causing visible frustration on the face of Notts’ top scorer. Moments later Notts had a fantastic chance to finish the game off, with a move started by captain Cameron, one which ended with Rodrigues firing wide from just inside the area. Still, Notts were on top and in the second half there only ever looked like one winner.

Luke Williams then began to make changes, with Mitchell coming on for Langstaff and Austin replacing Scott, with the two substitutes injecting some much needed energy and relentless pressing into the side. Chicksen, who had a brilliant game, once again got into a threatening position, but he showed that he is indeed very left footed, as he took too long to shoot due to the need to cut back on his left foot when the natural choice would have been to meet the ball first time with his right.

Quevin Castro then entered the fray in place of Palmer, but just moments later Notts once again handed Woking a lifeline and a way back into the game as they were unable to clear from a corner, and the referee awarded a harsh penalty for a handball by substitute Mitchell. This was the second penalty he had given away this season, although this one seemed particularly harsh. Reece Grego-Cox stepped up and coolly sent Slocombe the wrong way before slotting the ball in the opposite corner.

This set up a potentially nervy ending for the Magpies, but unlike previous iterations of the black and white side Luke Williams’ team showed nerve and composure, dealing with the five added minutes with professionalism. Woking never threatened the equaliser, not through a lack of effort but simply because Notts hardly let them have the ball. Rodrigues was especially effective in killing the game off, and Notts ran out 3-2 winners. An excellent 3 points on the road against a particularly strong side, one who will certainly be in playoff contention.

Looking at the stats and it's fair to say that despite it looking quite tight, Notts were probably good for the win based on chances created.

Notts have now scored a goal more in the first 45 minutes than in the second 45 with Scott's second goal being the 9th scored by Notts in the last 15 minutes of the first half.

Notts, alongside Chesterfield remain the only clubs in the league to score in every game so far.

Looking at team actions Notts came out on top in all areas except for PPDA where Woking's press was a touch higher than The Magpies, but most of the hosts pressing seemed to come in the first half.

xG stats are interesting as both have been inflated by penalties, however, Scott still managed to accrue an xG value of 1.11 and Langstaff 0.60 confirming that Notts continue to create high value scoring opportunities.

In fact, based on those chances Notts' expected points for this game equated to 2.00 compared to 0.76 for the hosts. Equally Notts' win% calculates to 58.77% compared to 17.61%

Player Watch:

Cedwyn Scott is a player who from the outside looking in, might be deemed to be playing second fiddle to his strike partner Macaulay Langstaff. But for those of us who have witnessed any of his 653 minutes it's clear that his game is about so much more than scoring goals.

Against Woking he got his rewards for some great play both off and on the ball, however, it was his link up play, positional awareness and head down determination that really grabbed the attention in this game.

His link up play with Rodrigues having dropped deep and then positional awareness to get on the end of Chicksen's low cross for his first goal were clear indicators of what Scott has to offer both in the build up and finishing.

We then saw the determined side of him for his second as he recovered the ball from his own initial loss before driving into the box where both Rodrigues and Langstaff were able to cause enough panic in the Woking area to see the ball back out to Scott who was unmarked and had an empty net to pass the ball into.

Scott is also physical and can play the part of target man if necessary which gives Luke Williams great options alongside Langstaff and Rodrigues.

He will no doubt be frustrated at not adding to his brace when opportunity knocked again in the second half where too much time on the ball gave defenders enough time to get back and block his shot. Equally, this could be seen as an example of poor decision making in that Langstaff was unmarked to his left and would no doubt have had a better scoring opportunity. It's maybe a bit harsh seeing as he was on the hunt for his hattrick so he might be forgiven for his indecision on this occasion.

With 60 actions in total during his 82 minutes on the pitch Scott was very much involved in the game and can be satisfied with his 60% successful actions and his completed passes rate of 77%.

Ultimately Scott put in a rounded and professional performance, topped off by increasing his goal tally for the season to 6 meaning that he has now directly contributed to 9 goals so far.

Player Ratings (Tom Williams):

Slocombe - 6

Was rarely tested, but came and collected a few decent crosses. Whilst I constantly back Slocombe at some point a conversation must be had about the mistakes that lead to goals. Just like at Dorking his passing leads directly to a goal, but this time it felt like it was in slow motion. Daly pressed him, something sides haven’t done much this year, and he paid the price for a poor decision. In addition, when they won the penalty you never really had any faith he would save it; I believe it’s been 4 years since he last saved one.

Nemane - 7

Not at his blistering best, and felt he could have taken on Casey more as he definitely had him beaten for pace. Did show maturity in not always passing forward and supported well. Clearly Woking had identified the threat of Nemane as Lofthouse often switched to the left.

Brindley - 6

Not Brinds’ best performance in a Notts shirt, and a shame as he’s probably been our best defender this season. Didn’t always win his headers and was caught out of position at times too. Did play a nice ball into the middle for the second goal, and could probably do with a rest this FA Cup weekend.

Rawlinson - 7

A really good performance from Connell, and he’s going to make it tough for Baldwin to get his place back in the side. Won a lot of aerial battles, and looked so calm and composed under pressure. He has clearly taken well to our style, and always looked to play out