Crossing Stats – A look at our wide players over the last four years

Courtesy Graham Burrell

I made a fleeting comment about our crossing in an article this week, commenting that we’ve always been able to deliver a cross into the box. I was pulled up in the comments and told that the stats over the last few seasons would be interesting.

Well, prepare to be interested.

I’ve been on Wyscout and (sorry Neal Eardley) looked at two stats for all the players I feel were out and out wide players; crosses per game and success rate. It’s hard to find a good and respectable average for crosses per game as some teams rely heavily on balls into the box, others not so much, but in terms of success, an average seems to be around the 30% mark.

I also took the player with the highest number of crosses in our division for that season and his percentage, to act as a balancer to give the numbers some perspective. Interestingly, the stats on Wyscout vary wildly to those on Whoscored, another popular stat website. Whoscored have Liam Feeny as the third most prolific crosser in our division at the moment averaging 2.6 per game, whilst Wyscout have him making 9.54 per game. Wyscout film all the matches and provided the clips, so I’m content that he has made that many per game; he made 25 in one encounter with MK Dons.

I’ve been very surprised with the results, starting back in 2016/17 and coming right up to today. You might be too.

2016/17

I’ve taken Liam Ridehalgh as the benchmark, he played for Tranmere and averaged 4.66 crosses per game, with a 35.3% accuracy. No Lincoln player would have played more in total than Ridehalgh who was top in the division in terms of the number of balls he played into the box, but it gives a good indication of what a strong number is for average and accuracy.

It surprised me hugely to find Josh Ginnelly coming out on top for number of deliveries per game, although given his career trajectory since perhaps it shouldn’t. Ginnelly became a scapegoat in his second season, even I got on his back after a game against Port Vale, but with 4.83 crosses per game and a 31.3% accuracy rate, he was the player who delivered the most balls in the National League.

Terry Hawkridge was the most accurate with 38.5% of his balls finding a teammate. That didn’t surprise me entirely, he became a fan favourite for a reason long before he bagged the brace against Macclesfield.

Terry Hawkridge – 2.81 / 38.5%

Harry Anderson – 2.12 / 25.7%

Nathan Arnold – 2.91 / 36.3%

Josh Ginnelly – 4.83 / 31.3%

Benchmark

Liam Ridehalgh (Tranmere) – 4.66 / 35.3%

 

2017/18

In our first season back in the Football League, it’s clear that the squad went through a transistion by the number of wingers who featured. We had seven in total I feel warranted picking up, although I don’t include players who didn’t start a league game, or who only had a couple of outings, hence Joe Ward not being on the 2016/17 list.

Nathan Arnold, a true hero of the National League campaign, had the best accuracy with 37.9%, solid enough on the back of 36.3% the previous season. He delivered fewer per game though, but when he crossed it was usually accurate.

Jordan Maguire-Drew had decent accuracy but remember this is only about crossing; the boy did little else in a Lincoln shirt. Danny Rowe came out top in terms of numbers and I think when he signed we all saw his class. His accuracy was good too, 32.7% which stacks up nicely.

I used David Worrall of Port Vale as the benchmark, he put a lot of crosses into the box on average and his accuracy was certainly strong.

Harry Anderson 2.97 / 17.9%

Nathan Arnold 1.87 / 37.9%

Josh Ginnelly 2.53 / 31%

Cameron Stewart 4.13 / 27.8%

Jordan Maguire Drew 3.1 / 33.3%

Danny Rowe 4.47 / 32.7%

Jordan Williams 4.08 / 20%

Benchmark

Dave Worrall (Port Vale) 6.65 / 35.5%

 

2018/19

Courtesy of Graham Burrell

I haven’t included Bernard Mensah as we barely saw him, nor Danny Rowe who played much of his football through the centre. Tom Pett did play out wide a bit, but because he also played through the centre I felt it would be unfair to include him in the list. Instead, I’ve picked our two out-and-out wingers as well as Kellan Gordon.

The Derby loanee perhaps didn’t get enough credit for his ability, although I do know some fans clamoured to see more of him. He came out on top in terms of average per game, but the other two had much more time on the pitch and often played with tired legs or in matches away from home where we didn’t get the ball forward as much, so it’s perhaps not as straightforward as calling Gordon better.

Harry was more accurate than Bruno, just, but Bruno got more balls into the box per game. Both got  a similar number of assists, but perhaps proving the point my commenter made on the other post that we weren’t the deadliest from out wide.

Nicky Adams, a player with more total crosses than any player, averaged 7.48 per game and had an accuracy of 27.6%

Harry Anderson 2.61 / 25.6%

Bruno Andrade 3.93 / 24.4%

Kellan Gordon 4.53 / 29.9%

Benchmark

Nicky Adams (Bury) 7.48 / 27.6%

 

2019/20

Courtesy Graham Burrell

This season is already young, but the numbers are interesting. Firstly, it’s notable that the accuracy has gone up, not just with two of our players, but also the benchmark. Liam Feeney, whose 9.54 checks out on the videos I watched, has an accuracy of 42.2%. Or top crossers, Grant and Andrade, are also both in the high forties.

Why? Maybe it’s early in the season and heavy pitches haven’t affected things. Maybe, as a season goes on, tired legs play a part. Perhaps better centre forwards are converting the crosses which may have not been touched last season. Whatever the reason, Bruno’s 48.3% from this season is currently as high as any player has reached over the last four seasons.

On the other hand, Harry Anderson’s 14.7% is the lowest. That’s odd as I’ve felt Harry has got better this season. His goals certainly seem to have come more readily, perhaps that’s at a cost.

Jorge Grant 1.64 / 47.1%

Bruno Andrade 2.62 / 48.3%

Harry Anderson 2.75 – 14.7%

Benchmark

Liam Feeney – 9.54 / 42.2%

 

Neal Eardley / Harry Toffolo

 

Courtesy Graham Burrell

I’m not of a mind to go through all of the full backs we’ve had as well, I have too much on to do that, but I thought it was worth bringing Neal Eardley and Harry Toffolo in to the equation. Certainly, over the last two seasons I’ve felt both have contributed as much going forward as the wingers, something that accounts for so few wide players on the 2018/19 list. It also helps boost my argument we can deliver a ball.

They call Neal Eardley ‘The Postman’ and I can see why. In the last three seasons he’s delivered over 40% accuracy consistently, with a good number per game as well. I think this accounts for some of Harry Anderson’s lower figures, certainly the number of crosses, as he’s often laying the ball back to the man with unnerving accuracy.

As for Toff, the numbers from him have improved this season. He was always a threat and often likes to surge into the box rather than get a cross in, but his frequency and accuracy is up this season.

Neal Eardley

2017/18 – 3.90 / 43.4%
2018/19 – 3.63 / 44.3%
2019/20 – 3.04 / 45.2%

Harry Toffolo

2018/19 – 2.39 / 24.2%
2019/20 – 3.43 / 31.5%

To conclude, maybe we haven’t always got accurate crosses into the box in some people’s eyes, but with benchmarks of between 30% and 35%, some of our players are not far off at all. I’d argue that our deliveries have been of a good standard, but that this season we’ve seen a massive kick on in the early exchanges. It would be very interesting to have picked the same players at the same stage of each season, without the winter periods and excluding loss of form which we’ve not seen from our wide players this season, but you could delve into the stats all day.

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6 Comments

  1. Very interesting stuff, Eards & Toff have a better accuracy than most the wingers we’ve had, surprising.
    I’ve felt that Anderson’s form has dropped off a bit, after a promising start, his two (iirc) goals aside, he’s not been particularly productive. He’s got to learn fast this season if he’s going to make the grade I feel.

  2. Backs up my view of Harry against your view looking through rose tinted spectacles. Under the current manager he wont figure much… football is far more technical at this level…likeable young man as he may be.

  3. Thanks for the article Gary. It’s always disappointing when we see the fullback beaten and the cross lacks quality and accuracy.
    Harry being the scapegoat but as you explain, his cutback to Eardley allows a better ball in by a more experienced player.
    Harry’s an exciting player, though I guess he may be used more off the bench this season based on the stats.
    I will miss him if that happens.

  4. Why the sudden obsession with stats this season, Gary? You can glean anything you want from from stats and make them fit your argument. What’s the saying, ‘lies, damned lies and statistics’?

    • Stats don’t lie over a period of time. I find them interesting and the feedback I get is others do too. There’s still plenty of non stat based stuff on here but I like to cater for everyone.

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