Tom discusses County ahead of the gameat Meadow Lane
I’ve been going to County games as long as I can remember (my first football game ever was actually a Forest game, but in fairness I won the tickets in a school penalty shoot-out and I didn’t rush back). The last few seasons I’ve started following Notts far more seriously as I’ve fallen back in love with the game, and Notts’ brand of football certainly helped. This is my first year covering the league in any sort of capacity and I’m loving it; it’s such a fun division and the fans are great. I’m currently a student at the University of Reading, which is great as I can get to far more southern away days, but it also means juggling uni work with the stuff I do on Twitter; a balance I haven’t quite got right yet!
Honestly it’s brilliant. I made the trip down to Wealdstone on Tuesday night and it’s brilliant celebrating goal after goal. We have so many goal threats in our side too, so if one has an off day you know another will pick up the slack. The style is great and we know that more often than not we will score at least a couple of goals.
I think 6 league wins on the bounce speaks for itself. The form is fantastic, and it’s up to the boys to carry it on for as long as possible. Not only are the results really good but so are the performances to go with them. That’s why I feel sustaining the form is realistic, as it’s not as if we’re scraping results, we’re winning emphatically.
He is relentless. He never stops working and is so hungry for goals, hence why he already had 17 goals. I would say he’s a fox in the box, but that would be doing him a disservice; he has so much more to his game than that. He’s such a clever striker, his positioning is truly excellent, and his work off the ball, leading the line and the press is great too. He works tirelessly so remains a threat all game, and his goal in the week was a bit more flashy than his typical tap in goal. He’s the joint leading scorer in the country (tied with Haaland) and it’s not just a hot streak; last season he got 32 goals and 14 assists for Gateshead. Oh, and he only cost £50k too.
OTHER KEY PLAYERS
I could honestly name the whole 11 but I’ll try limit it to a few. Ruben Rodrigues jumps out straight away, he’s the creator in our side, but like Langstaff his work off the ball is amazing too. If you give him time and space he will run the game, something no side at this level can afford to do. Matty Palmer is a calming influence in midfield, is really good at cycling possession and is crucial to our build up. Former Torquay man Kyle Cameron is our captain, but he’s so much more than just a leader. He’s a fantastic defender and an attacking threat too. I’ll also have to throw a mention to our wing backs, who are so crucial to the way we play; both get forward, and Chicksen already has 5 goals, and Nemane has a bucket load of assists, 2 of which came just this week.
I rate Luke Williams so so highly, he’s been immense since coming in. He’s got nearly everything right, and when he hasn’t he has learnt from it quickly. He’s shown he can make subs at the right time (see 2-2 against Chesterfield) but he’s also improved so many of our players, taking them onto new levels. He hasn’t changed our shape at all, keeping us with a 3 at the back system, but he’s pushed the wing backs on and made us far more intense as an outfit. We are far fitter, work harder, press the opposition more and are more incisive too. It’s the best football I’ve ever seen us play; we move the ball so quickly and with purpose, it’s a real attacking brand of football, but one that doesn’t compromise on results.
It’s tough to say as we played in the week. One thing for certain is that Brindley won’t be playing, as he got a red card against Wealdstone in the week. Slocombe will start in goal, and the back 5 is almost certainly going to be Rawlinson at right centre back, Baldwin in the middle with Cameron to the left, with Nemane at RWB and Chicksen on the opposite side. I’d suspect we will remain unchanged in the attacking 3rd too, meaning Palmer will partner Bajrami in midfield and Ruben and Scott will play just behind Langstaff.
They’ve both been fan favourites since arriving, but this season they’ve both really kicked on and added levels to their game. Nemane has been converted into a wing back, a role which he is flourishing in. It’s definitely been his best season in the black and white, and seeing him bombing forward down the right isn’t an uncommon sight. To be honest, he’s probably our main outlet; so often he is the out ball, and he creates so much down that flank. Cameron has really led by example; he’s been our best defender, winning defensive battle after defensive battle, and he’s been great in the air too. He’s also a real threat going forward, both with his crosses from deep but also when he does a marauding run forward and looks for goal. I always struggle to sum Cameron up because he does everything really well. He is as close to being a complete defender as you can get at this level.
I don’t want to jinx anything, but if we keep this up then we have to fancy our chances really. It’ll be tough, and I think Wrexham will push us all the way, but confidence is sky high right now. Chesterfield will still be in the mix; they lost 3 on the bounce but are still a great side and could be a threat too.
With all due respect to yourselves we have to fancy our chances this weekend. We have to win and win comfortably if we are serious about going up this season. My score prediction would be 3-0, with the usual suspects getting the goal. I feel Kyle Cameron is due a goal too, which would certainly be interesting given his history with both clubs.