"You have to give large amounts of credit to Luke Williams" - Notts County v FC Halifax Town: Opposition Focus

Luke WilliamsLuke Williams
Luke Williams
We spoke to Ollie King from the Nottingham Post for the lowdown on FC Halifax Town’s opponents on Saturday.

1) What kind of form do County go into the game in?

It's been a difficult start to the new year for Notts. They have taken just five points from their opening three league games of 2023, while also being knocked out of the FA Trophy in their last game against Maidstone. Two postponements against Chesterfield and Solihull Moors have halted any sort of momentum to get back to winning ways, with this weekend's fixture against Halifax allowing them to equal a club record of 19 games unbeaten in a league season, something which has not been done since 1930.

2) Why has the team done so well this season?

You have to give large amounts of credit to Luke Williams since he joined the club in the summer. The Magpies boss has seemingly revolutionised players that looked on their way out of the club, with his appointment going hand in hand with the vision set out by owners, Alexander and Christoffer Reedtz. The right blend of experience and tenacity has also been a key factor, with players within the squad relishing under his guidance.

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3) What's the team's style of play, what can Halifax expect to come up against?

In the majority of games this season, Notts have had the majority of possession, looking to build from the back and create unique avenues towards the goal. In recent weeks, their playing out from the back has caused them problems and resulted in conceding some avoidable goals, and could be something Halifax look to exploit when they visit Meadow Lane. Out of possession, they work extremely hard to try and win the ball back as high up the pitch as possible, with particular emphasis on their wingbacks being involved in the build-up.

4) Who will be your dangermen and why?

It's difficult to not highlight Macaulay Langstaff. With 22 goals in 26 games this season, he has been in red-hot form under Williams and will be chomping at the bit to get back out on the football pitch and continue his quest for the golden boot. His strike partner who joined him in the summer from Gateshead is also having a fantastic start to life in a Notts shirt. Cedwyn Scott has 13 goals to his name this season, with the pair having more combined goals than 13 teams in the National League, including outscoring Saturday's visitors 11 times.

5) How do you think Halifax should approach Saturday's game to give themselves the best chance of getting a result?

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A lot of teams have found joy with sitting back and defending when coming to Meadow Lane, looking to hit the Magpies on the counterattack. The likes of Yeovil, Bromley, and Boreham Wood have found joy in slowing the game down as much as possible and frustrating the home crowd, and taking some valuable points from Williams' side. As mentioned earlier, there have been a few errors with Notts playing out from the back, and this could be something exploited if they were to adopt a high press from goal-kick situations.

6) Injuries/suspensions?

The only injury concern is that of Tobi Adebayo-Rowling. The defender has been in fine form this season at right-wingback but suffered an injury at the start of the season, with Williams confirming he will not be ready for another week despite returning to the training pitch early last week. Apart from that, the Notts boss will have a fully fit side to choose from.

7) Likely line-up and formation?

Williams tends to opt for a 3-4-1-2 formation (5-3-2 out of possession), with emphasis on his wide players helping out in attack. With everyone fit, I feel as though this is how we will line up on Saturday – Slocombe, Cameron, Baldwin, Brindley, Chicksen, Nemane, Palmer, O'Brien; Rodrigues, Scott, Langstaff.

8) What impact has manager Luke Williams made this season?

An immense one. While adopting a similar style of play to previous manager Ian Burchnall, each player has expressed the intensity that has been introduced into training as the key difference from under previous managers. His success is no luck, and he has been rewarded already with a new deal until the 2026/27 season, and his commitment at the club could be pivotal in the summer as to whether some of the Magpies' key players sign new terms, with nine players out of contract including Ruben Rodrigues.

9) How do you rate the team's chances of promotion?

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It's still far too early to call with Chesterfield having several games in hand, but I feel as though it could go down to the wire. Wrexham have set new levels alongside Notts this season, with both quite comfortably capable of accumulating 100 points this season, but at this stage, Phil Parkinson's side has the momentum along with a game in hand. It will be interesting how it all unfolds with the top three all still needing to play each other once more.