Imps v Plymouth: Dispelling the Myths

Credit Graham Burrell

You all know I’m a big one for stats.

I love numbers in football, always have. You can blame Paul Gascoigne, in a way. Back in the day, he loaned his name to an awful football game called Gazza II, which delivered loads of stats after a game. I loved them and have believed that patterns appear in numbers that can prove or disprove theories over time.

I’ve seen a lot of theories about the game this weekend, and how we did, so I’m interested to know if the numbers back up what I’d consider being commonly held beliefs about the encounter. I’m going into this without prejudice, I don’t know the outcomes before I’ve written the titles. The numbers might prove the beliefs right, or wrong. Let’s see, shall we?

Disclaimer – I can’t legislate for you if you’re one of those people who start a sentence with ‘I don’t care what the stats say’, before making your own outlandish and baseless claims about players as if your opinion is the right one and everybody else is a wet wipe. If you’re one of them, save yourself the bother of getting into a slathering mess over my research, and you’ll save me the hassle of adding another name to my ever-expanding muted list on Facebook and Twitter. Cheers.

Credit Graham Burrell

We Didn’t Pass The Ball As Well As Plymouth

The first one I wanted to check was around our passing. I was told by someone on social media we didn’t pass the ball well at all, certainly not as well as Plymouth. Is that right?

Well, we certainly passed it more than Plymouth, a team who usually enjoy passing it around. Remember, this is a Ryan Lowe side. His Bury were the best team in possession back in 2018/19, compared to us apparently the best out of possession. That’s certainly changed; we played 555 passes compared to their 358. In terms of accuracy, we were ahead – 83.06% to 79.05%. That’s the most accurate our passing has been since Cambridge away.

Not all passing is great though, it is easy to find backward and lateral (sideways) passes easily, isn’t it? So, how did we do on forward passes, much worse, surely? Nope. Sorry to disappoint, but we played more forward passes (173 compared to 146), and we were considerably more accurate (73.99% to 63.01%). Our long passes were also more accurate; we played 50 with 68% accuracy, compared to their 59 with just 49% accuracy. We played nine fewer long passes during the game, but more accurate ones (34 to 29).

Credit Graham Burrell

I’m sure you get the picture by now, but we played more passes into the final third (60 to 58), and with better accuracy (66.67% to 51.72%). We played more progressive passes too, (96 to 69) and guess what? We were more accurate (79.17% to 73.91%).

For those who are interested, a pass is considered progressive if the distance between the starting point and the next touch is:

  • at least 30 meters closer to the opponent’s goal if the starting and finishing points are within a team’s own half
  • at least 15 meters closer to the opponent’s goal if the starting and finishing points are in different halves
  • at least 10 meters closer to the opponent’s goal if the starting and finishing points are in the opponent’s half

Outcome: False – we did not pass the ball worse than Plymouth

Next Page: Dan N’Lundulu Gave the Ball Away Too Much – true or false?