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Mark Stallard on Notts County: ‘Cutting Out Individual Errors is Point Number One’


In the aftermath of Notts County's thrilling yet agonising defeat against Colchester United, Luke Williams, the club's manager, cut a somewhat restrained figure. 

Despite a four-goal offensive onslaught, Williams seemed to be holding back the fury that one might expect from a manager whose team had just conceded five goals. Speaking to Dave Bracegirdle before the game, Williams had described the number of goals his side was conceding as "really worrying." With eight goals conceded in two games and a staggering 19 already this season, it's not difficult to see why.

Former Notts County striker and BBC Radio Nottingham's correspondent, Mark Stallard, shared his thoughts on the defensive frailties that have haunted the Magpies. Stallard's assessment was candid, stating, "There's too many mistakes being made, you know." He added, "Thankfully, other than today, they've not cost Notts too much this season." While the Magpies may sit at the summit of the table, they are doing so with a glaring defensive vulnerability, with only four teams having conceded more goals.

Despite the concerning defensive record, Stallard was quick to recognize the attacking prowess of Notts County, stating, "We're scoring a hell of a lot of goals, posing such a threat going forward." Indeed, the neutral observer must have relished the spectacle of the game, even if Notts County ultimately found themselves on the wrong side of the score line.

So, how can Notts County address these defensive issues? Stallard acknowledged that the solution lies in training and analysis. He emphasized the need to work on transitions, positioning, spacing, and individual errors. "Cutting out individual errors is point number one," Stallard insisted. While the mistakes have been costly, he was resolute in his belief that Notts County should not deviate from their attacking style of play, which has been their hallmark under Williams' tenure.

When questioned about whether the team should change their playing style, Stallard responded categorically with a resounding "no." He pointed out that their style of play had brought them success, enabling them to score four goals on the day. He acknowledged that some of the goals conceded were due to outstanding strikes rather than systemic issues, emphasising the importance of finding the balance between attacking potency and defensive stability.

One of the highlights of the game was Jodi Jones' sublime goal, a "goal of the season contender," according to Stallard. Despite such moments of brilliance, the frustration lies in the fact that Notts County's defensive lapses overshadowed their attacking brilliance.

With Langstaff continuing to find the net and Notts County's knack for creating chances, it's clear that the attacking aspect of their game is firing on all cylinders. However, the team now faces the challenge of addressing their defensive fragility. Stallard noted that Tuesday night's clash against Swindon, who are also prolific in front of goal, is a massive game. Williams will be seeking a bounce-back performance from his team and will undoubtedly be focused on tightening the defensive screws.

The question now is whether Notts County can maintain their attacking flair while shoring up their defence. As Stallard concluded, "Championship [winning] teams are built on solid defences," and the current number of goals conceded remains a cause for concern. Tuesday's match promises to be a thrilling encounter, with both teams possessing an eye for goal. With a bumper crowd expected at Meadow Lane, it could indeed be another goal fest, but Notts County fans will hope that their team's defensive resolve takes centre stage, allowing them to maintain their position at the top of the table.

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i think hes 100% correct, i appreciate and love hearing mark stallards comments. i think we just need to work harder in training in defensive situations and work more as a team. every needs to think about their positioning and if someone is marking, ensure that the space is limited. if it means making sure we get players back so be it, we cant keep conceding the amount of goals that we do.

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There’s an age-old saying in football that a solid defence is the foundation of a good team. However, we should also acknowledge the strength of our attacking force. Yes, there are areas for improvement in our defence, but we have a talented squad. I wish supporters would understand that every player is giving their all, and mistakes are part of the game. I believe we can manage until January, but we need to make decisions about these loan players who aren’t making it into our first team. They either need to be given a chance to prove themselves or returned to their parent clubs. The addition of a robust, commanding centre-back could be beneficial. Hopefully, our recruitment team is considering this. But let’s not forget, we’re performing well overall. If you exclude matches like those against Forest Green and Colchester United, our record looks much more positive.

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“Cutting out individual errors is point number one,” This statement is spot on. It’s not a big problem, but we do need to start maintaining more shutouts if we want to keep ourselves at the top. As long as we can secure victories and minimise losses or points dropped, there’s always a chance we can remain in the lead.

I believe part of the problem lies in our starting strategy. If John Bostock isn’t playing, we need to consider how that might affect our defence and ensure that everyone is working together. Good defending is crucial to winning games, regardless of how many goals we let in. Mistakes are bound to happen, this is League Two football after all, but I think Mark Stallard’s comment hits the mark.

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The key point to remember here is that everything can be resolved with a bit of effort. There’s no need for concern, but we do need to return to our winning form. Mark Stallard’s insights are quite sensible; it’s crucial to maintain structure and work in harmony.

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Mark Stallard talks a lot of sense, I agree to his emphatic “no” when asked should we change the style of play, he’s exactly right because as he says this style of play has brought success, the team just need to work on the defensive side of things on the training ground and I’m positive that Luke Williams will be aware of this and working hard with his team to put it right. There’s absolutely no need to panic. 


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Stallard's point about individual errors really struck a chord with me. Watching the game, I can't help but tense up every time the opposition mounts an attack, knowing our defence might falter. It's time for us to strengthen up in the back, without compromising on our attacking might.

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Great points by Mark Stallard here. There's no two ways about it, individual errors are something we really need to conquer if we want to continue our hot streak.

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Mark Stallard is correct, although I don’t see the need for concern. We might very well keep a clean sheet tomorrow against Swindon. The more we worry or panic, the larger the issue will become. I believe the focus needs to be on training, with an emphasis on awareness. We seem to leave defending to one or two players who are closer to the ball. Perhaps Luke Williams might consider instructing the players to move into defensive positions quicker and to provide support?

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Colchester demonstrated a high quality of play, it's hard to deny. But hats off to the team for putting up a spirited performance. We could’ve got something from the goal ourselves but we didn’t.

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It's evident that he has pinpointed exactly where we are going wrong. Our attack is intimidating, scoring with relative ease against our opponents, but the chinks in our armour become apparent when facing a counter-attack. Our defence seems to falter and lapse into mistakes when under pressure, causing us to concede. Stallard is right, this is an area we need to focus on in training. We must learn to maintain consistent pressure without compromising on our defensive stability, managing transitions effectively and limiting individual errors. Only then can we become a well-rounded team capable of maintaining our position at the top of the league.

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Pride of Nottingham is an independent fansite devoted to Notts County, the world’s oldest professional football club. Created in 2013, it has served as a source of Magpie news, features, match previews, reports, analysis and interviews for more than three years.

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