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Tactical Talk: Notts County 4-1 Lincoln City, Saturday 23 September 2017


Notts County have climbed to the top of League Two after a resounding 4-1 victory against 10-man Lincoln City.

The Magpies rode out a tricky start at Meadow Lane to edge into a numerical advantage when Billy Knott was sent off for a high boot into the face of Ryan Yates.

Notts then took the lead through Jon Stead and, despite being pegged back by Harry Anderson's equaliser, went on to strike thrice more, through Matt Tootle, Jorge Grant and ex-Imp Terry Hawkridge.

Here is an in-depth analysis of the game from Chris.

Was the result fair?

Notts asserted domination after Lincoln pulled level, and despite all the whining about the red card and refereeing decisions, it was the correct decision. Ultimately Notts responded well after losing the lead. And I have explained further why the result was fair in my feature, "Billy Knott red card cannot be blamed for Lincoln City loss".

How did Notts play?

First half was disappointing, the players refused to keep the ball on the ground and this better suited Lincoln. I feel we were cancelled out, largely by negative game play but in the second half Notts managed to assert control of the game and from there it was one of the best second half performances I have seen at Meadow Lane for a long time.

How did Lincoln City play?

Firstly, I felt they played well. Attacking wise they reminded me of Notts with how we tend to force play but they worked the ball very nicely and created chances. It was obvious that they wanted the play to be primarily thought-out in the air, however several rash challenges and blatant cheating ultimately saw their performance spiral to a very low point. Why the Lincoln goalkeeper decided to go down at two periods to allow his team to have a ‘team talk’ is beyond me.  

Did our tactics work out?

First half no, second half play was adjusted and the wider positions gave Notts what they needed. The players also focused on passing rather than hoofing and it was like watching a different game. Line-up wise it was spot on but Notts just need to remember to keep the ball down in the future.

How did the referee perform?

He was alright, I think some of the decisions he made was swayed by both teams players and Lincoln fans might moan about Matt Tootle but there were times several of their players did the exact same thing. I don’t think the official controlled the game very well, especially for since it was a local derby.

Who do we play next?

Next up, Exeter City – a game which they have been hyping quite a lot. It’s one of those games which will easily define the 2017-18 season for Notts.

How should we play them?

I don’t want to see Kevin Nolan opt for a defensive line-up, as I feel this would play into the hands of Exeter who will be heavily focused on attacking.

To control the game, we should build slowly, pass the ball around into positions whereby we can guarantee more time to pick out the right pass. It’s important that we make a lot of movement as we move forward, as this will create better chances.

Again the midfield will have to do a lot of running and hard-work, as this will help the defence handle Exeter.

We just have to build careful and be prepared for them to throw everything at us, I think they start a lot like Swindon Town did – using a mix of pace and creativity to form good chances, so we must be alert at the back.

Lincoln fan reaction (from the Lincoln Vital page)

Scotimp: Danny said he wants to be around the top ten at the halfway stage. We are 12th, having played some very difficult games - we have played the top 2 away, for example, and the teams who are 3rd and 5th at home. We have also played the teams in 9th and 10th away. We are 4 points off the play-offs. We are in the Football League. We are not Tranmere. I'm pretty pleased with all of that.

Croozey: I don't think we need a squad of 25. Two more would be enough. But I think in January we could see some of the current squad moved on and replaced.

Hulloutpost: We dominated the game until the outrageous sending off against a team second in the league, high in confidence and with some very experienced/decent players. We are not far away from giving somebody a spanking and the sooner it comes the better. We have had a similar start (bit patchy and inconsistent but some good stuff also) to what we had last season and whilst this is undoubtedly a tougher league I have seen enough to know that we have better players than last year. Given a better rub of the green and a bit more sharpness on our part and we will be fine going into the January transfer window. I expect us to kick on at that point.

85 Horace Green: I was sat quite high up and admittedly saw the last three County goals from a distance, but it didn't look to me as if Farman was at fault for any of them. He does flatter to deceive sometimes but I'm not sure today was his fault at all.

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