Fine Margins: The Seven Goal Swing

Credit Graham Burrell

I’ve just read Gary’s piece on the Crewe game, and felt compelled to write something myself, writes Jack Turner.

We have talked about problems within the squad, the transfer policy, all sorts, and yet the truth is only one thing is wrong. We’re not scoring enough goals at home. It’s that simple. Why we haven’t scored the goals can be debated, but it is the sole problem within this current team. If you don’t believe me, please read on.

Last season, across 25 League One games at home (including Sunderland in the play-offs), we averaged 1.54 goals per game. This season, albeit over a smaller period of time, we average 0.8. This season, that equates to seven missing goals (ten home games, multiplied by the 0.74 difference and rounded down). Seven goals. It doesn’t sound like an awful lot, but it really is when you consider the difference in results.

Let’s assume that we scored those goals in relatively close games. After all, we only scored three or more at home on three occasions last season, so you’d assume that these missing goals came in matches we’ve either not scored, or bagged one. Therefore, I’ve taken the games we’ve either not scored in, or scored one, and worked out where we’d be if we’d got those seven extra goals. It’s surprising reading.

Firstly, what are the games in question?

Lincoln 0-1 Bolton, would be 1-1

Lincoln 1-1 Rotherham, would be 2-1

Lincoln 0-1 Ipswich, would be 1-1

Lincoln 0-1 Wimbledon, would be 1-1

Lincoln 1-1 Shrewsbury, would be 2-1

Lincoln 0-3 Portsmouth, would be 1-3

Lincoln 0-1 Accrington, would be 1-1

we’ve seen this eight times at home, as opposed to 16 times after 20 games last season – Credit Graham Burrell

There you go. Seven games that, had we got a single goal more and matched last season’s home haul (actually, we’d have one fewer, as we’d have scored 15 and after 20 games at home last season we’d scored 16), we’d have eight more points. How would that reflect in the league table?

Firstly, the Imps would be tenth, not 18th. That’s a big jump, and who would be calling for the manager’s head after that? We’d still be out of all the cups, we’d still have lost to Crewe last night, Portsmouth would have well beaten us. However, seven goals, pure and simple, would be the difference between fans calling for the gaffer’s head, and lauding him as a genius.

After all, we’d be above big-spending Ipswich, fancied Charlton and most of the teams fans consider we should be better than. We’d be 11 points clear of the bottom four, and eight behind the top six. Seven goals.

Credit Graham Burrell

Bear that in mind when you’re next calling for a new manager. By the way, I’ve seen people saying things on social media like ‘Paul Cook is a good manager, recently sacked by Ipswich), or ‘we should go for Flynn at Newport’. Both failed, Cook had a big budget and failed, Flynn took Newport as far as he could, which was League Two and no more. Why on earth would they be better than Michael, when he’s just seven goals away from being applauded for punching above his weight? In just four months he’s been let down by a transfer target at the last minute, lost his captain at a crucial time, lost his number nine for the entire autumn period, been let down by two headline signings in Adelakun and N’Lundulu, come back from cancer and lost his leading scorer to injury who, incidentally, had scored seven league goals. If you’re comparing him to Tilson, who was shit, from start to finish, who signed shit off his own back, who got his targets and was still shit, who had a decent budget compared to his rivals and was still shit, who dropped into the division below and was still shit, then you’re deluded. Gary might not call out some fans, but I do.


Current P GD PTS PTS (2)
1 2 Wycombe 21 10 41 41
2 1 Rotherham 20 25 41 39
3 3 Sunderland 20 12 39 39
4 4 Wigan 18 18 38 38
5 5 Oxford 20 12 36 36
6 6 Plymouth 20 11 36 36
7 7 MK Dons 19 13 34 34
8 8 Sheff Wed 21 7 34 34
9 9 Portsmouth 21 4 33 33
10 18 Lincoln 20 -6 21 28
11 10 Burton 21 -2 28 28
12 12 Cheltenham 20 -9 27 27
13 14 Charlton 21 1 26 26
14 15 Cambridge U 21 -3 26 26
15 11 Ipswich 21 4 27 25
16 13 Accrington 21 -11 27 25
17 16 Bolton 21 -3 26 24
18 17 AFC W’bledon 19 -2 24 22
19 20 Morecambe 20 -13 19 19
20 21 Fleetwood 20 -5 18 18
21 19 Shrewsbury 19 -7 19 17
22 22 Gillingham 21 -15 17 17
23 23 Crewe 21 -17 15 15
24 24 Doncaster 20 -24 13 13