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Report | Wrexham (a)

Vanarama National League | 10 April 2023


Notts’ title challenge well and truly came to a halt as they lost 3-2 at the Racecourse, in a game that was dubbed the biggest in non league history. The Magpies did take a half time lead through a superb John Bostock free kick, but the hosts turned the game on it’s head in the second half. Notts did get back into it however, with skipper Kyle Cameron levelling the scores with a diving header, and despite falling behind yet again they had the chance to share the spoils with a 96th minute penalty. Unfortunately, Cedwyn Scott’s effort was saved by Ben Foster, sending the travelling support back to Nottingham in extremely low spirits.

The game started pretty well for the Magpies, as the pattern of the first half was set. Notts would maintain possession, while keeping a high line, looking to control the game inside Wrexham’s half. When the Welsh side did turn the ball over Notts would intensely press, and this led to a very even and tense first 45. Few chances fell either way, with Wrexham staying compact, and the high line catching the hosts’ attackers offside on numerous occasions.

Wrexham did finally break the offside trap as danger man Mullin finally got in behind. Slocombe, who had almost been playing as an extra outfielder up to this point, raced out of his goal to close the forward down. Replays showed that Slocombe did just clip the striker, but the officials decided it wasn’t enough contact to warrant a free kick.

The game then began to open up slightly, as O’Connor went into the book for Wrexham, before skipper Cameron fired a warning shot of his attacking threat, curling a strike at goal, which was well saved by Foster. The latter then had a big moment, for the wrong reasons, as a long ball forward from Bajrami evaded the keeper. He clattered both Rodrigues and his own man, as the pass from Bajrami went behind for a goal kick.

The frustrations felt by both sets of players then began to materialise in terms of bookings, as first Rawlinson received a card for a foolish challenge. He prevented a quick throw by charging at his man without watching the ball, the easiest decision the referee had to make all afternoon. It wasn’t the first time a Notts defender was caught not looking at the ball; Cameron had shoved Mullin earlier in the half, but had gotten away with it.

That man Mullin then went into the book for a very late challenge on Rodrigues, his lunge catching the Portuguese midfielder. Rodrigues responded well to that, and to losing a tooth, breaking free for the first time in the half. Jones halted his run, clipping his heels, conceding a free kick just inside shooting distance.

Bostock and O’Brien stood over the resulting free kick, deep into the added 3 minutes. Neither have scored with a direct effort this season, so Wrexham may have been forgiven for underestimating the threat of the chance. Up stepped Bostock, and in potentially the highest point of the season so far curled a beautiful effort into the top right corner, sending the travelling support into raptures. An unbelievable moment of individual quality to break the deadlock.

No changes at half time meant the sides got underway in a similar fashion to the first half, although disaster struck for the visitors, as their good work was undone within 3 minutes. Wrexham, who had started the second period with an undeniable increase in intensity, got in behind Cameron in the left channel, not for the last time either. The ball was played into the box, and while it appeared Mullin had fouled Bajrami, the referee didn’t agree. That left Mullin with a 1v1 opportunity, one which he took ruthlessly to level the scores.

The game then became close again, with an undercurrent of tenseness running through proceedings. The hosts hit the bar, a venomous strike which looked to have given them the lead only narrowly missing. Luke Williams looked to respond, making his first change of the afternoon, Sam Austin replacing O’Brien. The change seemed to cause Notts to switch off though, and almost immediately Wrexham were in behind that left channel once again. This time it was Mullin who got in behind Cameron, beating him comfortably for pace before whipping a dangerous ball to the back post. Lurking was Jacob Mendy, a man who had a torrid first half dealing with Nemane. He made amends though, finishing superbly first time to give the hosts the lead.

At this point it felt as though the game would run away from Notts, but to their credit they dug in and exerted control for an extended period. That resulted in 2 quick fire chances, with Foster called into action both times. First Cameron got a shot away before substitute Sam Austin, who made a real impact, wiggled free before forcing an excellent save from the 40 year old. That resistance wouldn’t hold out much longer though, as a short corner routine eventually worked its way to Cameron at the back post. This time he made no mistake, diving low to head the ball home to restore parity.

With Notts now well and truly on top Luke Williams looked to press the advantage, with Jones and Scott taking the place of Nemane and Rodrigues. However, just like last time the substitution seemed to cause a lapse in concentration, with Wrexham once again getting in behind that left channel. This time it was Eoghan O’Connell, who ran onto his own pass, before putting the ball into the box. Bajrami managed to cut it out, but made a mistake in trying to flick the ball to safety, which was latched onto by Paul Mullin. He showed brilliant composure, laying the ball off to Elliot Lee, who swept the ball into the bottom corner to restore the hosts lead.

With time running out, and the title slipping away, Notts began to commit more men forward. They didn’t panic, but did leave themselves more exposed, and Wrexham almost exploited this. They would have had a 2 goal cushion, if not for Sam Slocombe who made a huge save to deny Sam Dalby.

This save seemed even more significant, as moments later Eoghan O’Connell was penalised for a handball, leading the referee to point to the spot. With Notts’ usual penalty taker, Rodrigues, off the pitch the identity of the taker wasn’t certain. It was to be Cedwyn Scott who stepped up, with Ben Foster standing between him and a hard earned point for Notts. Scott seemed calm, but a re spot of the penalty perhaps betrayed his nerves, and while he struck his penalty well, he didn’t hit the corner, and Foster was able to scramble across to make a magnificent penalty stop. It was also to be the last real meaningful moment, as Wrexham cleared the resultant corner, meaning they took all 3 points in a razor close game. And with that final whistle so too did Notts’ title hopes fade, with the playoffs now the aim for the Magpies.


Doesn't seem to matter who the opponents are the resulting match data generally tells the same story from a Notts perspective. Loads of possession, deep circulation and territory, and as we've become accustomed to it's more often than not resulting in 3 points.

Whilst the data above has a familiar look about it the final result doesn't, this was a game of small margins, one that really could have gone either way.

The xG data suggests that Notts should have edged it but as we've said before the xG value for the missed penalty really boosts the xG total for Notts and ultimately skews the resulting totals so maybe take the resultant win% and xPTS with a pinch of salt. It's fair to say that Wrexham made the best of their second half chances and will consider themselves good value for the win.

We can talk about defensive errors being the undoing for Notts but they did have long spells of possession but were unable to create much with it. Credit must also go to Phil Parkinson who got his tactics spot on, not just in persisting in trying to expose the high line, but also in restricting the service to Macaulay Langstaff who barely had a sniff, just two attempts all game.


Season stats updated below.

John Bostocks converted free kick makes him the 17th Notts goalscorer in all competitions this season.


Player Stats - National League:

Third placed Woking up next at Meadow Lane on Saturday, the first of a final three games of the regular season. Preview to follow.

As always thanks for reading.



For Notts County Stats:

Richard - @notts_stats

Tom - @tomhwilliams23

Colin - @Colin_Sisson



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