The headline fact about this season, of course, is that we came 17th in the fifth tier, therefore suffering the lowest league position in the club’s history. As you might imagine, that means that a lot of our figures this season are the worst since the campaign which saw us relegated to the Conference six years ago.
We conceded more goals and lost more games than in any other Conference season, and clearly those are two circumstances which severely limited our horizons this year. However, in other areas we compare surprisingly well to other, more successful seasons. Proof, if it was needed, that this has been a frustratingly patchy effort in a sub-standard division.
Surprisingly we got the same number of wins at home as we did last season, and conceded fewer goals at The Racecourse than in two of the three seasons we’ve reached the play-offs. Bizarrely, we also scored more away goals than we did last season, and the same amount as when we came fourth three seasons ago, but we conceded a lot more and picked up a lot fewer points on our travels than in either of those campaigns.
Another shock is that this wasn’t the lowest points total we’ve managed in the Conference. We got one point less in Dean Saunders’ first full season in charge and actually scored twenty five per cent fewer goals that season.
My gut feeling that the wheels fell off after the departure of Andy Morrell also seems to hold water. We won an average of 1.34 under him this season, but since he left have managed just 1.14 per game, and that figure is boosted by two wins over hapless Hereford. To put that into perspective, if we’d won 1.14 points per game all season we’d have finished one point ahead of Chester.
When it comes to individual performances, it’s no shock to find that Johnny Hunt was effective in front of goal, hitting the net every 233 minutes: certainly not bad for a player you could hardly describe as an out-and-out striker.
However, he didn’t have the best strike rate this season, and the two men ahead of him will raise some eyebrows. Rob Ogleby scored one every 212 minutes, while on average Andy Morrell only waited 114 minutes between goals.
Perhaps the most revealing fact about the strike rate figures lies outside the top five. In sixth place is Leon Clowes, which says something about the efficacy of the strikers who came beneath him.
Looking at overall creativity is extremely interesting. Hunt scored a good number but surprisingly didn’t set many goals up. If you look at assists, or combine them with goals, then the man at the top of the list will offer plenty of fuel to a long-running debate at The Racecourse. He was constantly criticised for not having end product, but Adrian Cieslewicz scored or set a goal up every 98 minutes, topping that particular list, and was second in the length of time it took him to set up a goal to Bradley Reid.
The defensive stats are interesting too, especially when you bear in mind the news today about the release of Dave Artell. One wouldn’t argue that he was ever the most aesthetic of defenders, but he was one of our most effective options at the back: he featured in each of our three most effective central defensive partnerships, including a paring with Danny Livesey which was only pierced once, when Forest Green scored on the last day of the season.
As for the goals conceded while players were on the pitch, Kyle Parle’s short but promising stint was the most successful: with much of his time in the first team against Gresley, we shouldn’t read too much into these stats per se, but Parle is undoubtedly a player to keep an eye on.
It’s no great shock to see Danny Livesey at the top of the list of defenders who spent any amount of time on the pitch, but this category also shows that sometimes statistics can’t be trusted. According to these figures, Junior Ntamé is a better defender than Steven Wright, Leon Clowes and Steve Tomassen. If you really believe that, then you were watching different games to the ones I saw!