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Match Previews

PREVIEW | Wrexham v Notts County

16 February 2024

Match Previews

PREVIEW | Wrexham v Notts County

16 February 2024

Football’s great isn’t it? This clash between the oldest and third oldest professional football clubs in the world ought to be an epic rivalry by definition, but instead it was a routine fixture for both sets of fans. It took a season like no other to draw us together, and now our fates our intertwined.

Wrexham smashed the record for the most points in a season in the UK this Summer to win the National League, and we had to because Notts County did exactly the same.

Just think about it: a side which put last season’s sequence of results together would have been runaway winners in any previous season at any level of the Football League or Premier League, going back to 1888, yet the title race was most definitely alive until the closing moments of our penultimate match of the season. That’s how magnificent Notts County were last season: we had to be unprecedentedly good to better them.

Throw in the drama of our end of season showdown at the Stok Cae Ras, and this is suddenly a rivalry for the ages. Just as it should have been all along


Wrexham’s win at Sutton on Tuesday wasn’t pretty, but it was exactly what was required. The home defeat to Bradford felt peculiar: the level of performance was close to what we’d expect at the Stok Cae Ras, but the goals just wouldn’t come.

Phil Parkinson will hope that a hard-fought away victory will restore the positivity and resilience that his squad famously possess just in time for this massive clash. He shuffled his pack, and the four players that he brought into the starting line-up have given him plenty of food for thought as he considers the line-up for this game.

Will Boyle’s heroic return from the disappointment at Newport was an obvious stand-out effort, but Max Cleworth was equally solid on the other side of the back three, while Luke Bolton and Jack Marriott both made positive impressions in their first starts for the club.

Furthermore, Parkinson singled out Paul Mullin and Ollie Palmer for praise after they did well off the bench, and Luke Young’s first appearance in 8 games was impressive as he brought bite and drive to the middle of the park.

Young might have to replicate that role, as George Evans came off after feeling tightness in a gluteal muscle.




A week ago it wasn't just last season's titanic title tussle which links the two clubs. Both Wrexham and Notts County were in the midst of a poor sequence of results and concerned they might even see all the good work they'd put in this season undermined. County even dropped out of the play-off spots on Saturday, overtaken by the team which beat them, Gillingham. 

However, we both bounced back on Tuesday, with an impressive 3-1 win at Newport halting County's worrying sequence of results and restoring their place in the top seven.

The win was also most welcome as it was Stuart Maynard's first since succeeding Luke Williams. Williams left County after a 4-2 defeat at Tranmere on New Year's Day, taking up the opportunity to return to Swansea City as manager. He was assistant manager in South Wales before taking charge at Meadow Lane in 2022, and instilled a distinctive style of possession-based football which brought remarkable success over a year and a half. His reputation as a progressive, technical coach meant higher division sides were bound to be interested in him, and his previous work helping to establish Swansea's style of play meant he was an obvious choice to replace Michael Duff.

County's board issued a statement which put Williams' achievements at the club into context:

“As disappointed as we are to lose Luke, he departs with nothing but our very best wishes. We’re sure this sentiment will be shared by our supporters, who have grown to love him not only for his phenomenal achievements but also his infectious personality. He will be forever known as the man who took the world’s oldest professional club back into the EFL, breaking records and creating lifelong memories along the way.

“The high-profile nature of our achievements since Luke’s arrival 18 months ago, coupled with the immense respect he holds within the game, mean it’s come as no surprise that he’s attracted interest from higher in the pyramid. ...It’s important to remember that the club operates in a way that protects itself against the loss of a key figure like Luke. While his presence will naturally be missed, our vision remains the same."

Williams was replaced by Maynard, who was described by the County board as "one of the most exciting managers outside the EFL.” He fits the profile County went for when they appointed Williams: a young manager who is looking for his first chance to manage at a big club with high expectations.This will be his first shot at managing a full-time squad, having excelled in the last two seasons at Wealdstone.


“We’ve been tracking Stuart’s progress for a long time," explained the County board, "and have huge respect for the outstanding job he’s done at Wealdstone on limited resources.

“We believe he will thrive in a full-time environment and is an excellent fit for us in terms of his playing philosophy, which puts him in a strong position to settle in quickly and lead our continued push for promotion to League One… he has formed a formidable and dedicated coaching team who will integrate seamlessly into our existing set-up as we look to build on the foundations we’ve laid during our adaptation to life back in the EFL.”

Maynard will have a new striker at his disposal as the signing of Gambian striker Alassana Jatta on deadline day has finally been confirmed following the granting of his visa. Jatta arrives from Danish club Viborg: the consortium which owns them includes County's owners, Alexander and Christoffer Reedtz. The brothers took the club over in 2019, and have employed a similar model to Brentford owner Matthew Benham to facilitate County's rise up the divisions.

The club benefits from the expertise and financial support of their football data analysis business, Football Radar, which sells data to football clubs gamblers. Its net worth has risen 150% since the takeover, from a starting point of £4 million, it seems the arrangement is mutually beneficial. Certainly, eye-catching signings like that of Macaulay Langstaff suggest their data is reliable: he is currrently top scorer in the division, seamlessly making the move up from the National League. Indeed, he is on the verge of an astounding feat, as he was top scorer in the National League last season, and of the National League North the season before with Gateshead.

That phenomenal 3-year burst of goals seemed to come out of nowhere, as his first 5 years of senior football yielded a mere 16 goals in 206 appearances, with all those goals being scored at National League North level. However, he then blossomed to strike 32 goals in 44 appearances, convincing County to take a punt on him. The rest is history as he has hit 63 goals in 81 appearances for County thus far, attracting the interest of clubs in the Championship.

A penalty area specialist, Langstaff has been supported by a talented array of creative talent. Ruben Rodrigues has gone, having signed for Oxford in the Summer, but the likes of David McGoldrick, Aaron Nemane, John Bostock and Dan Crowley (who is also in double figures for the season), have kept him well supplied.

However, the king of the assists, not just for County but in the entire division, is Jodi Jones.His arrival in the January transfer window of 2023 was another inspired piece of business as he immediately settled into the side. He'd suffered an horrendous series of fitness problems prior to arriving at Meadow Lane, including 3 ACL injuries, but given continuity he made a terrific impact on County's season and scored a priceless last minute winner against Boreham Wood in the semi-final of the play-offs.

"That moment made all the rehab worthwhile. It wiped out all of the injury nightmares and made me feel so proud. There were so many times I could have crumbled, but that moment made me feel happy to have carried on."

-Jodi Jones on scoring against Boreham Wood

He continued where he left off at the start of this season, providing 4 assists in a remarkable 5-5 draw with Grimsby, the first player in the top 4 tiers since Harry Kane in 2020. The 18 assists he has managed this season means he has already broken the League Two record.

"I can only thank my team-mates," he told Sky Sports, "The way we work and the things we do allow me to get the ball and put it into dangerous areas. When you've got players like McGoldrick, Langstaff, Crowley and Nemane getting on the end of them, you know you've got a chance of getting loads of assists."

"A target that I set myself is to get as many assists as possible so hopefully I can keep that up. When I get on a good run of form I don't get too far ahead of myself, because you know you can get hit with a setback, I try to stay level-headed."

"Without being too biased I think we're the best team in the league. The way we play is something I really enjoy. We have been unlucky in some games and we're still working on things but with these players, we do need to get promoted. It's something I believe will happen."



A game against Notts County doesn’t need to be sold to either set of supporters. Our titanic struggle for the National League title last season has bonded the two clubs in a profound, if unexpected manner. We set a national record for the most points won in a season, and we had to as The Magpies also smashed the previous mark in pursuit of us.

The clash between the two sides at the Stok Cae Ras at the end of last season will go down as one of the true classics of our history, with Ben Foster’s remarkable last-gasp penalty save from Cedwyn Scott already an iconic moment.

There were other heroes that day though: Paul Mullin and Jacob Mendy scored to overturn a half time deficit, and when County equalised with a quarter of an hour left, we swiftly went up the other end and got a winner through Elliot Lee.

Our 2-0 win at Meadow Lane earlier in the season means we go into this game with the upper hand in recent clashes, but actually we’ve only won 3 of the last 9 games in this fixture, the other win coming when James Jones struck a last minute winner in a FA Trophy quarter final in 2022.


County might have access to sector-leading data analysis, but there are some basic numbers which must have them scratching their heads. Their away form is bewildering: only the top two have scored more on the road than County, but despite that their away record is worrying. They have lost more away games than anyone else in the top half of the table, won fewer than anyone else in the top 11, and only Swindon and bottom club Sutton have conceded more in away matches. Incrediblly, they were 18th in the away table before winning at Newport in midweek.

Moving on to the sort of data County actually focus on, there's one fascinating stat which sums County's style of play perfectly. Opta's data illustrates spectacularly just how extreme their short passing game is compared to the rest of the division. Keep searching down at the bottom right corner of the graph and you'll find them eventually! Wrexham, in contrast, are slap bang in the middle, suggesting we are more comfortable mixing play up than anybody else.


Per Opta

The success of their focus on possession is shown in their xG figures. They are one goal behind the top scorers in the division, Stockport, but are the highest scorers in the division in open play, and have the highest xG in open play too, but are outperforming it by 8 goals. Their set piece stats are the opposite though: they have the lowest xG in the division from restarts, and least efforts on goal from set plays.

Of course, Wrexham are strong on set pieces, having had the most shots, second highest xG and third most goals scored from them in the division, but both sides are strong when defending set piecesounty have conceded the 5th fewest shots on goal from set plays, and Wrexham the 6th.


AFC Wimbledon v Morecambe
Bradford City v Sutton United
Colchester United v Accrington Stanley
Crawley Town v Forest Green Rovers
Crewe Alexandra v Harrogate Town
Grimsby Town v Doncaster Rovers
Newport County v Gillingham
Salford City v Barrow
Swindon Town v Milton Keynes Dons
Tranmere Rovers v Stockport County
Walsall v Mansfield Town

We're the match of the day, but there's plenty of interesting encounters elsewhere. Crewe are the only side in the top 9 apart from us to have a home game,  and they'll be fancying their chances against Harrogate, who had a bit of a rough ride in midweek!

There's a terrific queue of clubs behind County searching for a play-off spot: 5 sides are within 2 points of them and two of those sides meet when Wimbledon face Morecambe.


Ben Tozer's 500th league appearance.

Jordan Tunnicliffe's 325th career match.

Aaron Hayden's 250th career game.

Will Boyle's 250th league match.

Sam Dalby's 150th league appearance.

Paul Mullin's 125th Wrexham match.

Max Cleworth's 100th career appearance.

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