A League 2 blog with an overwhelmingly pro-Torquay United bias
It’s another analytical post I’m afraid, based on data that my Experimental 3-6-1 activities have churned out. One of my recent posts over there showed that no team in League 2 conceded a higher proportion of their goals in the last 15 minutes than Torquay last season. Looking at our results over the years, I’ve often noticed that we seem to ship a lot of late goals, so I thought I’d dig a little deeper.
Below is a distribution of all the league goals netted at Plainmoor last season broken into 6 phases of 15 minutes, with Torquay’s goals in green and our opponents’ in red:
Let’s take goals scored first: we weren’t too bad at scoring early, but as the first half wore on we were less likely to find the net. We rediscovered our attacking edge after half time, perhaps benefiting from a rest, a chance to regroup or the occasional fiery team talk. Interestingly we were best of all after the hour mark, which is shortly after Buckle would usually make his first substitution, suggesting that the impact of these was generally positive. As in the first half though, we tended to end the second quite sheepishly, and this is where things get really interesting.
Looking at goals conceded, these are almost uniformly distributed until we get to those final 15 minutes, when we seem to suddenly go to pieces: over the course of the season we actually conceded the same number of goals in this period as we did in the entire first half at Plainmoor. These lost us 8 home points over the course of the season, which makes you wonder what could have been if only we’d been better at keeping things tight late on. Still, 8 more points wouldn’t have been enough to secure automatic promotion, so let’s turn our attention to our away performances before we decide how upset to be:
It’s a slightly different shape but there are a few notable similarities: we still had problems keeping things tight in those final 15 minutes, and now the end of the first half also looks to be cause for concern. Scoring-wise, we started games fairly well and finished strongly, but were largely anonymous either side of half time. I couldn’t resist taking a closer look at the goals we conceded in the final 15 minutes: these represent another 9 points dropped and included a couple of occasions when we were leading by 2 goals only to come away with a draw.
So overall we dropped 17 points in the last 15 minutes of matches – if we’d saved 12 of these we’d have finished 3rd on goal difference and gone up automatically, although there’s no telling what effect a different tactical approach would have had on goals conceded elsewhere over the 90 minutes. Let’s have a quick look at the combined picture, i.e. adding the previous 2 graphs together to show all of our goals, home and away:
We can clearly see our attacking effectiveness diminishing as the first half wears on before returning to peak in the middle of the second, which may well be the effect of some canny substitutions as I previously mentioned – Billy Kee often came off the bench to liven things up. Defensively we were clearly weakest in the last 15 minutes of both halves, particularly the 2nd. This suggests that there was an issue with either fitness, inexperience or a lack of determination. Whatever the reason, it’s undoubtedly cause for concern and something we could make massive strides by addressing, given how close this division invariably proves to be. It will be interesting to see whether the same pattern repeats itself under Martin Ling this season.
To end on a slightly more upbeat note, it could have been worse – look at what Bournemouth fans had to put up with: