You can make statistics sing any tune you like, if you look hard enough. I’ve looked on the BBC Football website, so I’ll let you decide whether that’s staunch enough research. But what I discovered from the past four games – as if we needed someone like me to prove it – is that we’re not scoring enough from the chances we’re creating, and we’re conceding too often from the chances we’re giving away.
The numbers will back me up here. If you’re a Grimsby Town fan, this news won’t come as a shock to you. But since we all like numbers and the things they say, here are some you might find particularly interesting.
I decided to look at the last four games only – the draws against Lincoln and Torquay, and the defeats to Altrincham and Macclesfield.
In these games we’ve had a combined total of 53 shots and scored 4 times. At a rather disappointing conversion rate of 7.5% (that’s putting it mildly) it essentially means we’re having to shoot more than 13 times before we score a goal.
Compare that to the opposition’s conversion rate of 21%. They’ve scored 7 from 33 shots, which means they’re only having to shoot 5 times before they find the back of the net.
What’s slightly more revealing is the conversion rate from the shots on target. Our 4 goals from 18 shots gives us a success rate of 22% (so 4 times out of 5 our goal-bound shouts are being blocked, saved and cleared).
Our opposition’s 7 goals from 12 shots on target gives them a rather worrying success rate of 58% (meaning nearly 3 of every 5 shots they have at James McKeown are going in).
Now, this says one of three things – firstly, that McKeown isn’t having his best season. I think he’d probably admit that himself. Secondly, that the opposition are being unnaturally ruthless for this level of football, and they surely can’t continue at this rate. Possibly.
And thirdly, that we’re just going through an outrageously unlucky spell. I’ll let you decide on that.
How about the season as a whole?
Grimsby: 94 shots (38 on target) = 14 goals (14.9% of all shots, and 36.8% of shots on target are scored).
Opposition: 55 shots (24 on target) = 11 goals (20% of all shots, and 45.9% of shots on target are scored).
Clearly there are trends. While we’re attacking more, and shooting more, we’re just not scoring enough. We’re scoring 1 in 7 while the opposition are scoring 1 in 5. They’re simply being more accurate than we are.
If we were as ruthless as them – scoring 20% of all our shots, and 45.9% of those on target – we’d have between 17 and 19 goals for the season, rather than the 14 we currently have.
While it would be easy to blame the strikers, it’s actually quite difficult. Both Bogle and Amond have started well, scoring four goals each, and at 14 we’ve only scored one fewer than the division’s top scorers Wrexham. If we continue scoring at this rate we’ll finish the season with 100 goals.
Perhaps what needs addressing is the opposition’s much higher conversion rate. They’re not shooting as often as we are, but they’re getting them on target and making them count with much more efficiency. What’s that down to? Are they getting closer to goal before they shoot? Is that down to a lack of pressure in the box? Are we cutting out enough crosses? Is McKeown’s positioning up for debate?
It’s certainly food for thought for manager Paul Hurst.