Notts County v Boreham Wood
Tuesday 10th January 2023, 7.45pm
Meadow Lane, Vanarama National League 

The Wood return to league action with a difficult trip to league leaders Notts County, looking to pick up their first win since the start of December.


Notts County are the world’s oldest professional football club and predates the FA itself, spending almost their entire history in the Football League after being one of the 12 founding members in 1888. However, internal turbulence saw the club struggle during the 2010’s and they subsequently fell out of the Football League after more than a century, with their relegation to the National League being confirmed for the first time in their 157-year history in 2019. They kicked-off their stint in non-league in the 2019/20 season, and came within 90 minutes of regaining their Football League status immediately only to lose to Harrogate Town in the play-off final. This would be followed by another play-off attempt in which they lost to Torquay United at the semi-final stage, and three times proved not to be a charm when they fell to eventual winners Grimsby Town in the elimination round last season, thus keeping them in the fifth tier for a fourth successive season.

However, the arrival of Luke Williams as head coach has seemingly sparked a change in fortunes for the Magpies, with the club also benefitting from a number of high profile signings in the summer as well. Macauley Langstaff is the most notable of these with his move from fellow National League side Gateshead proving to be incredibly successful as the forward currently tops the division’s scoring charts with 22 goals. Additionally, the likes of Geraldo Bajrami and Aden Baldwin have added steal at the back to blend with plenty of quality in attack, with Langstaff being joined at Meadow Lane by Gateshead teammate Cedwyn Scott along with Sam Austin to contribute to County’s impressive form this season and replace the outgoing Kyle Wootton and Callum Roberts. As a result, the Magpies currently sit five points clear at the top of the National League table having lost just one game all season and compared to their previous attempts, look best placed to finally return to the Football League.


Aldershot Town 0-3 Notts County
Saturday 7th January 2023
Vanarama National League

Notts County extended their lead at the top of the National League table with their first victory at Aldershot Town since 1988.

An uncharacteristically slow start from the visitors saw the Shots go close after eight minutes with a free kick whistling wide, but they soon gained control with their first big chance minutes later falling to Macauley Langstaff. Cedwyn Scott nodded a header over and Ruben Rodrigues fired a free kick over as County continued their pursuit for an opener, which they soon got just before the half-hour mark when Jim O’Brien was alert to fire home the rebound after Langstaff’s initial effort was blocked. The hosts almost gifted Scott a second of the game five minutes later before Kyle Cameron saw a shot diverted away, with a penalty appeal following when Aaron Nemane saw his cross blocked.

The Magpies did double their lead a little over ten minutes into the second half when Langstaff teed up Rodrigues to curl the ball into the bottom corner from 20 yards, and they nearly scored a third with Luca Ashby-Hammond being forced into an outstanding save to deny Scott once again. The Shots struggled to get back into the game, although they did produce a rare chance with Oliver Pendlebury’s shot being deflected narrowly wide. County eventually put the game to bed when Ashby-Hammond inadvertently presented Nemane with the ball, and he could only watch on as the former Manchester City man added gloss to the scoreline with a perfectly judged lob from 30 yards that sealed all three points.


Aldershot Town (A) W0-3
Oldham Athletic (A) D2-2
Oldham Athletic (H) W4-1
Chorley (H) W2-1
Gateshead (H) W2-0
Maidenhead United (A) W3-4

The Magpies have been in-form throughout the campaign and are yet to run out of steam. Their unbeaten run in the league was stretched to 13 games after a seven-goal thriller saw them come out on top at Maidenhead United, with a more straight-forward victory over Gateshead following. They would switch their attention to FA Trophy action and needed an own goal to beat National League North side Chorley, but were back to their best as they entered the festive period as a brace at either end of the first half from Cedwyn Scott contributed to a comfortable 4-1 victory over Oldham Athletic. The Latics were able take revenge on New Year’s Day with Joe Nuttall’s late penalty seeing Luke William’s men fail to pick up all three points for the first time in six outings, but they bounced back with another comfortable win as they overcame Aldershot Town 3-0 last time out.


Following a short-lived playing career in the non-league, Luke Williams transitioned into coaching with stints in charge of the youth teams of Colebrook Royals, Leyton Orient and West Ham United, before taking over as a development coach at Brighton & Hove Albion. A four-year spell at Swindon Town followed after initially arriving as assistant to Mark Cooper, taking over as head coach after a caretaker role before moving on to Bristol City’s Under-23’s. He would then link up with former Norwich City defender Russell Martin at both MK Dons and Swansea City, but stepped down from his assistant manager role in February 2022 and later replacing Ian Burchnall at Notts County after his departure to League Two champions Forest Green Rovers, following the Magpies’ defeat in the 2022 play-offs. Williams has overseen a marked improvement from Burchnall’s efforts though with County currently five points clear at the top of the National League table.


After impressing in the amateur game, Macauley Langstaff earned opportunities with Billingham Synthonia, Blyth Spartans, Gateshead, York City and Bradford (Park Avenue), before returning to the Gateshead International Stadium in 2020. It was his second spell on Tyneside that saw him enjoy a breakout season, firing the Heed to the National League North title with 32 goals and 14 assists which earned him the division’s Player of the Season award. As a result of his form he moved to Notts County in the summer, scoring on his competitive debut with a brace against Maidenhead United on the opening day of the season. This would be a sign of things to come as Langstaff has gone on to impress throughout his first season at Meadow Lane, and is currently the National League’s top scorer with 22 goals to his name.


Boreham Wood 2-2 Notts County
Saturday 13th August 2022
Vanarama National League

Tyrone Marsh’s late penalty rescued a point as the Wood kicked-off their 2022/23 campaign at home with a 2-2 draw against Notts County.

It was the visitors who looked the more positive of the two sides early on and controlled the vast majority of the possession, with Macauley Langstaff heading wide with the first chance of the game. County would take an early lead though when Nathan Ashmore initially denied Ruben Rodrigues, but this resulted in a tangle of legs as Langstaff looked to meet the rebound which ended in the referee pointing to the spot after deeming Ashmore to have fouled the attacker in the subsequent scuffle, and it was Rodrigues who made no mistake from 12 yards as he sent Ashmore the wrong way. The Wood soon grew into it and remained resilient to make chances hard to come by for the visitors, with a half-hearted appeal for another penalty being turned away midway through the half. Langstaff almost had the chance to give Magpies’ goalkeeper Sam Slocombe an assist after the former Gateshead man brilliantly plucked his long ball out the air, but the striker was penalised for a slight nudge on Fyfield before being unable to meet Adam Chicksen’s cross moments later. This seemed to spark some life into the hosts with Zak Brunt and Marsh going close, before the former sent in a cross which caused chaos in the box, ending with Danny Elliott scrambling the ball over the line on the stroke of the interval.

Like in the first half, the second began with Langstaff going close as Jamal Fyfield needed to block his effort from a tight angle. However, it was the Wood who were next to have the ball in the back of the net as Sam Slocombe gifted the ball to Brunt who’s heavy touch fell perfectly in the path of Elliott, but the flag was up for offside. Ashmore would need to be alert at the other end to make a couple of important saves, but he could do nothing to deny Kairo Mitchell moments later who fired beyond Ashmore from distance. Elliott twice had chances to level the score once again when he robbed Ed Francis of possession, before tapping home at the far post from a corner but he was denied by the assistant’s flag for a second time. However the Wood created chaos from a corner once more with ten minutes to go which saw Fyfield pulled down in the box, giving Marsh the opportunity to fire home from the spot and secure a point for the hosts.



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