Notts County are without a fixture this weekend due to Chesterfield’s involvement in the FA Cup second round against League Two side Salford City.
As we approach the halfway stage of the National League season, we have called the Magpies and their boss Ian Burchnall in for parents evening for a chat about how things are going so far and where they can improve.
Notts County are currently sitting in fifth place, the same position they finished last season in before losing the play-off semi-final against Torquay United.
They are just one point off the automatic promotion places but the teams above them have a game in hand.
While they are not playing this weekend, Burchnall and his players will certainly be keeping an eye on the weekend’s results as the two teams directly below them are in action against each other.
Bromley, who are in sixth, have a game in hand on Notts County and they are at home to Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney’s Wrexham.
Just two points separate County, Bromley and Wrexham, so the result between the latter pair will see County end the weekend in sixth due to both teams having a better goal difference.
Stockport in eighth also have a game in hand on County and are only two points behind but like the Pies they are not in action this weekend.
In the league, Notts have a record of nine wins, five draws and four losses, having scored 29 and conceded 21 goals after 18 games played so far.
Burchnall’s side have five clean sheets so far.
It is clear to see when looking at the table that there is the most room for improvement in defence for Notts County. They have conceded more goals than every team down to Yeovil Town in 10th, who have conceded just 15.
In comparison, only four teams have scored more goals than Notts and only one of those teams are above them in the table.
The Magpies’ top scorers in the league so far this season are Kyle Wootton and Ruben Rodrigues, who are both on eight goals. Wootton has a record of 0.44 goals per 90 minutes in comparison to Rodrigues’ 0.48 goals per 90 in the league. They sit in joint eighth in the overall top scorer rankings for the league.
Speaking to the clubs’ official twitter account about Wootton’s goal scoring form this season, manager Burchnall said: “I think he’s improved his movement in the box. He’s a bit more selfless in the final third and he gives so much to the team with his hold up play, link play, defensive responsibilities and he has started to be more selfish as well by getting into the box more.”
Rodrigues said: “I think I know the league better and you can see the ending of the last season gave me a lot of confidence and a boost coming into this season. We have the same manager so we know how he wants to play, and he knows our abilities and our specialities so I think everything around it is working well so hopefully we can keep going that way.”
Rodrigues also spoke about the style of play that Burchnall had instilled in his team since taking charge in March 2021: “The way Notts County play is from the back always with passing defenders even when there is high pressure we still want to play out.”
Notts County started the season in fine form and did not lose a game until their eighth match at the end of September against Altrincham away.
Since then, their form has been inconsistent. They lost their next two games 4-1 against Woking and 3-2 against Halifax Town respectively, before going on an eight-game unbeaten run which included a 0-0 draw and then 4-0 win in the FA Cup final qualifying round against Tamworth.
Their second unbeaten run of the season came to an end in a last minute 2-1 loss at home to League Two Rochdale in a first round FA Cup replay, following an initial 1-1 draw at the Crown Oil Arena.
Notts County’s most recent game was an impressive 2-1 victory at home to Dagenham and Redbridge thanks to goals from Frank Vincent and joint-top-scorer Kyle Wootton.
Speaking to the club website about the two weeks break his side have been on since the Dagenham and Redbridge victory, Burchnall said: “You always wanted to finish with a win because it’s a long two weeks if you don’t. I’m really happy with that. The boys are crying for Monday off but they’re not going to get it, they are coming in and were going to work hard in the time that we’ve got. It will also give us a chance to recover a few players that we’ve been missing.”
Grade: B – The Magpies haven’t lit up the league as they had hoped they might at the start of the season but they haven’t disappointed either wand are still well in the hunt for the automatic promotion places.
Ruben Rodrigues – The Portuguese attacking midfielder has been in spectacular form so far this season and his link up with housemate Cal Roberts looks to be blossoming.
Passing style – Burchnall has been in the job for since March 25, and the passing style that he has been trying to enforce on his team his finally playing off as they try to pass their way out of the National League
A wish – To try and tighten a slightly leaky defence, do this and they could find themselves pushing towards the top of the National League.
Notts County are back in action against Southend United at Meadow Lane on December 11 at 3pm, they will be hoping to move up the table and push for those automatic promotion places. Tickets are available at Nottscountyfc.co.uk.