That final day defeat wasn’t as bad as you think when you see the stats

Against Colchester in May 2019. I couldn't find any pictures with Ross on, because I'm not sure we had a shot at goal! - Credit Graham Burrell

Part of the increased coverage I want to offer next season involves deeper statistical analysis of matches and players after the event. I’ve always been fascinated by the numbers behind football; not just goals scored either, the really important stuff that affects the outcome of a game but that we don’t always pick up on.

I’ve joined Wyscout, a popular platform used by journalists, players, scouts and clubs to really get to the nitty-gritty when the new season starts. I want to have a better insight into the players performances and to gain an increased understanding of who the dangermen are from our opponents.

The trial period has just started and I wanted to have a quick look at the final match of the season, our 3-0 defeat against Colchester. This is going to be numbers heavy, but I hope to break down the figures over the season to give you a much clearer picture of exactly how we’re doing.

For a start, Colchester didn’t come with the express intention of throwing the kitchen sink at us. They played a 4-2-3-1 formation, similar to Portsmouth and Sunderland in League One. It’s a standard set up now and much hinges on the bank of three to get in and around the main striker. In this instance, that responsibility fell to Sammie Szmodics.

The feeling was we had a terrible game, a worrying sign for the coming season, but when you look at the figures we were actually the better side. It sounds crazy, but we had more shots, 14 compared to their 10. They got five on target, we managed just three. That wastefulness cost us the game, nothing more.

courtesy Graham Burrell

I’d seen talk of them ‘wanting it more’, but again the stats don’t show a pattern of Colchester playing us off the park. We played 355 passes during the game, 283 of which were accurate. That’s a 79% pass accuracy, give or take a decimal place. Colchester on the other hand, they attempted 193 passes, 135 of which were accurate. They clearly came to soak up our pressure and hit us on the break and it worked. Possession stats back that up even further, we had 63.96% of the possession, compared to their 36.04%. That was the least amount of possession a side had against us all season.

We were even better in terms of winning possession. There were 202 battles for possession, we won 89 and they won 75. The player with the most successful challenges on our team? Harry Anderson. The player who attempted the most challenge on our side? John Akinde. Yup, it surprised me too.

We did still lose 3-0, but on reflection it wasn’t the ‘football lesson’ that many felt at the time. The possession stats show we lost our way between 15 and 30 minutes, struggling to make that back up once we went behind. In the 60-75 minute period we had a whopping 82% of possession, but by then the game was lost.

Now, I know this was an end of season game, but I’m keen to know if analysis like this is going to be of interest next season, both as previews to games and as part of the post-match analysis? I’m certainly keen to subscribe but it’s not cheap and I need to know that the readers of the Stacey West are going to be interested in that sort of data.

Michael Bostwick, our Player of the Year, made 294 interceptions during the course of the season, 1662 accurate passes with a 74.2% completion rate and won 337 aerial duels, 65% of all those he took part in.

Bruno Andrade made 269 successful dribbles, put in 164 cross of which 24% were accurate and was involved in 891 duels, of which he won 42%.

I love this data, the question is do you?

Will these sort of stats will be of interest next season?

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  1. I am afraid the stats do not take away the fact that we played rubbish football in the last game

  2. Can’t think of anything more boring, it’s like watching paint drying. I’ll stick to watching live action!!!!

  3. Provide as many stats as you like. Anything to mask the truth of what was an horrendous display of massive proportions.

  4. I guess in-depth statistical analysis is always going to be marmite content. I think the above is fascinating, but clearly others don’t.

    Personally what I liked even more was the monthly predictions you did in the National League winning year. I don’t think we’ve seen them so much recently(?).

    Was just looking at your predictions for league placings last year as well. Makes really good reading with the benefit of hindsight.

    Either way, the content is great. Keep up the good work.

  5. I’d be interested to see standalone stats pieces. But I wouldn’t want your excellent ‘narrative’ match reports to be bogged down with reference to stats.

    Given our ability to mix playing styles I’d be keen to see stats on territory as well as possession.

  6. You have to be very careful. Passing stats can be very misleading. You can pass it hundreds of times lazily between the centre backs and with great accuracy. But is this more incisive play than a threaded through ball to a striker that is just cut out by a diviing lunge from a full back? Only one pass and 0 accuracy but has lead to a corner. And next time that one pass will lead to a goal, or three of them. And also a team may come to sit back, let the other team play in front of them, and then hit them on the break.

    Also possession stat is worth being wary of. It used to be all the rage to hold onto the ball like the Barca team and rest in possession and kill off the other team. But tactics have evolved to allow teams to do that and get wins. Leicester were happy to let the other side have the ball before using the pace of their attack to hit teams on the break.

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