The Thundercliffe Files: progress

Cod Almighty | Article

by Paul Thundercliffe

4 October 2019

Statistics show clearly how Town are making progress this season compared with last. 

The Thundercliffe Files
If Buckley’s buzzwords were "pass" and "move", then Jolley's jargon is full of "energy" and "youth". Another word that is also prevalent is "progress". Jolley has been very keen since day one to make progress. It is intriguing the way that he breaks up the season into metrics in order to measure progress overall.

With almost a quarter of the season gone, now is a good time to take measure. With Town 10 points and 15 places better off than this time last year it is plain for all to see that progress is indeed being made. But if we drill down a little, how, why and where has this progress been made? Compare this season with last over a variety of statistics and it makes for fascinating - and very enjoyable - reading.

  2019-20    2018-18   
Matches won 5 2
Matches drawn 3 2
Matches lost 3 7
Goals scored 19 7
Goals conceded      13 17
Goal difference +6 -10
Points 18 8
League position 7th 22nd


Of course, more wins and less defeats will mean more points. But aside from that the goals scored is most impressive: 12 more goals is more than a goal a game than last year and considering Town haven’t scored in three games this season (the three defeats) even more defining.

This time last year the seven goals had been scored by six different players, Cook the player with two. He's repeated that tally twelve months on but has been joined by eight other players, five of whom have also scored two or more. The spread around the team is important, with only really the full back position, and of course Hessenthaler, not contributing.

After 11 games last season the pattern was for Town to concede in the second half. This has been completely reversed this year.

    2019-20  2018-19 
First half Goals for 3 5
  Goals against 6 3
Second half    Goals for 16 2
  Goals against    7 14


Jolley and his team obviously identified the weakness in the second half last year, often running out of steam and ideas. This year it's a different beast: fitter, mentally tougher (two 2–0 deficits overturned in the second half) and determined. It is also interesting to look at the amount of goals scored in the first half across both seasons: tight, managing games, sussing opponents out. This year to our advantage.

Another difference is where the defeats occur. Last season we had six losses on the trot during that 11 game span, and indeed the season was a pattern of strings of wins and defeats. This year there is an obvious mantra from the players not to lose two games in a row. You can see the desire to accomplish this. The thinking is obviously that two defeats can lead to three and then you're in a rut.

That willingness could enable us to really push on this year. 10 more points is almost one per game more than at this stage last season. Extrapolate something similar across the season (44 points extra) and it's trophy time. Town have 18 points after 11 games; each promoted team had at least 17 at the same point last season.

All of which tells you that, yes, Town are making progress. The Exeter win gave players and fans belief that we can go toe to toe with the best and that we have a variety of systems up our sleeves. If we wear our heart on them too, this might just be a very special season.