Match Preview - Notts County

Image result for notts county fc
Nicknames (s) : The Magpies
Current League Position : 1st (P 10, W 8, D1, L1, GS 20, GA 8, 25PTS)
Form : W-W-W-W-W

The Gaffer

Former Premier League stalwart Kevin Nolan took over the reigns at County on the 12th January 2017, two days prior to the visit of The Stags, with the club struggling towards the bottom of League Two. By the end of the campaign, any relegation thoughts were a distant memory, with Nolan managing to secure a 16th place finish with some impressive results along the way.  

A relative managerial rookie compared to his opposite number Steve Evans, Nolan was prepared for his stint at his currently club by what one can only imagine was an 'interesting' spell at Leyton Orient. A fifteen game spell at a club in disarray as a first job in management would usually break a manager and leave their career in ruins, but Nolan has emerged unharmed.

Nolan was almost mocked at times during his career for being a favourite and follower of Sam Allardyce's, playing under him at the likes of Bolton, Newcastle and West Ham. In fact, being a loyal disciple of Allardyce resulted in a career most footballers would envy. Having almost exclusively played at the highest domestic level, Nolan managed over 100 career goals in 600+ appearances.

Those years under Big Sam have stood him in good stead so far as Notts County sit pretty at the summit of League Two, an opening day defeat at fourth place Coventry the only blot on the copybook, and also incidentally the only game in which they have failed to score.

Kevin Nolan's Managerial Record (County) : P33, W19, D6, L8, 58%


This could be quite a lengthy section, but straight off the bat you note that on average, County are bagging two goals per game, meaning the opposition are needing to score two to gain a draw. The two teams who prevented County from winning, Coventry and Accrington, both managed a brace of goals. Wycombe also managed two goals but still failed to accumulate a single point. The games mentioned were three of the first four games and account for seven of the eight goals The Magpies have conceded this season. Lincoln are the only team that have managed to breach County's defence in the last six outings. They have also not conceded a first half goal since the opening game.

In Jorge Grant, County arguably boast the best player in League Two. He is the joint top scorer, with seven goals from midfield, and also has two assists to his name. The variation of his finishes are also impressive, having looped in a header, stole in for back post tap ins, curled in from a direct free kick and smashed in from outside of the area. Despite being benched by Nolan for the top of the table clash at Exeter, he still scored two when introduced. Four of his seven goals have come when starting as a substitute.

Set pieces and crosses have been the assist method for 14 of Notts' 20 goals. Jorge Grant and Dan Jones are the most threatening when over a dead ball, but Matt Tootle, Terry Hawkridge and Jonathan Forte can all create from wide areas. With Jon Stead and Shola Ameobi possessing considerable aerial prowess, you may have expected them to thrive, but the pair have only managed one goal between them from open play.

The tireless running of Lewis Alessandra, three goals to him name thus far, can prove a good foil to the hold up play of Stead, and often paves the way for the introduction of Jonathan Forte late in games, whose pace has always caused problems for defences at this level.

As you expect of an Allardyce student, Nolan has his players in fantastic shape, shown by the majority of their goals being scored in the second half of games. Six of those have found the next in the last fifteen minutes of games.


As you would expect of a side top of the table with only 5 dropped points out of possible 30, weaknesses are difficult to spot. This section may have a hint of 'clutching at straws' about it, but I'll do my best.

It could be argued that Notts have been fortunate in a few of their games. Against both Chesterfield and Lincoln, the opposition were reduce to ten men with the scores goalless. Both of these dismissals took place in the first half, leaving the Magpies with over half the game to breakdown ten men with home support behind them. 

At Port Vale, the hosts had the lion share of possession, more shots and ten corners to County's one, but the visitors left Vale Park with maximum points, scoring from the games only shot on target. In their last outing at Exeter, again the statistics were in the home side's favour, but Nolan's men notched with their only three shots on target. Notts are remarkably clinical as displayed by the stats in the next section, scoring 20 times from 41 shots on target. 

In terms of areas to exploit, County can look shaky when defending set pieces, whilst few goals have actually resulted in their failure to defend them, but certainly opportunities have been conceded. Shooting across keeper Collin from he right and left sides of the 18 yard box has proved pretty fruitful for opposition teams also, perhaps suggesting the full backs can be troubled by quality opposition, such as Jodi Jones on the opening day.


Goals/Shots Attempted (for) : 20/113 (41 on target)
Average Shots per Game : 11
Average Shots on Target per game : 4
Goals/Shots Attempted (against) : 8/90 (32 on target)
Average Shots per Game : 9
Average Shots on Target per game : 3
Goal Periods (for) :       0-15mins 3 goals 16-30mins 1 goal 31-45mins 3 goals 46-60mins 4 goals 61-75mins 3 goals 76-90mins 6 goals
Goal Periods (against) : 0-15mins 0 goals 16-30mins 1 goal 31-45mins 0 goals 46-60mins 3 goals 61-75mins 1 goals 76-90mins 3 goals
Average Corners per Game (for) :  5
Average Corners per game (against) : 5
Average Possession : 52%


It's a massive game on Saturday, there is no doubt about it. County will arrive at Field Mill on the crest of a wave having dispatched second place Exeter 3-0 in midweek, whilst the Stags looked to extinguish the memory of Tuesday's dismal performance at Cheltenham from their minds, also a 3-0 scoreline.

Looking at the stats, Mansfield will be hoping to keep it tight in the first half at look to nick one late on as the game opens up. It's a shame that Joel Byrom will miss the game through injury, as his set piece delivery could have proved a potent weapon.

In the hope that Steve Evans will have his side suitably motivated, and that County may put in a 'after the lord mayor's show' performance, my prediction is a 1-1 draw.


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