League 2 timelines, 3 Sep 2016: Luton run riot

A quick explanation

You can skip this if you’ve seen these before.

As usual, here are timeline graphics for the latest round of matches. There’s a full explanation of these here, but in a nutshell they track how each club’s expected goals tally (the number of goals that the average team would have scored from the chances that they created) increased over the course of the match.

This allows us to get a better sense of how each game played out than from just watching the highlights. Every jump in a line is a shot, with bigger jumps corresponding to more promising chances (at least as far as I can tell from the limited data available at this level).

There are two numbers next to each club’s name: the first is how many goals they scored and the second (in brackets) is how many goals the average club would have scored from their shots. The latter number is what the lines track, with dots on the lines denoting the goals they actually scored.

You can browse previous timelines by selecting “VISUALISATIONS > TIMELINES” from the menu.

Side-by-side comparison

First of all, here are all of the match timelines side-by-side and using the same vertical scale, which makes it easier to pick out which games saw the most (and least) goalmouth action. I always sort matches by date and then alphabetically by the home team’s name in these posts to make it easier to find a specific one:

L2 2016-09-03

We’re one game short due to Newport v Barnet being called off at half time. Luton’s impressive attacking performance (top right) dwarfs almost every other match here and makes Mansfield v Cambridge in particular look like a snooze-fest. There were impressive wins for both Stevenage and Blackpool too, with Portsmouth also making short work of Crawley.

Individual matches

2016-09-03 Carlisle Accrington

Carlisle look to have enjoyed the first half far more than Accrington but it was the visitors who went ahead shortly before the hour mark. Having created the better chances overall – albeit not by a spectacular margin – it seems only fair that the Cumbrians were able to level the scores shortly after falling behind.2016-09-03 Colchester Exeter

Exeter edged a close-looking match here. Both sides struck from their first attempts but then spent much of the opening half deadlocked before Colchester snapped back into life. The Grecians’ second goal came from their first shot in over half an hour of football and their winner came from their next effort a quarter of an hour later. The hosts endured a quiet second half until a frantic – and ultimately fruitless – surge in the closing stages, and will be justifiably disappointed not to have taken a point.2016-09-03 Crewe Doncaster

While Doncaster out-created Crewe heavily overall, this was a pretty close game until the last quarter of an hour. Crewe had taken the lead with their first shot, which also happened to be their only attempt of the first half, and regained it with their last. Rovers hadn’t produced all that much themselves but looked to have earned a point with their late penalty until their hosts stunned them at the death.
2016-09-03 Luton Wycombe

Two Luton penalties – only one of which was scored – certainly helped to boost their expected goals total (a penalty is “worth” about three quarters of a goal) but even without them this was a comprehensive victory. While there were a few long gaps between the hosts’ attacks, Wycombe posed few questions of their own, although they had managed to keep the scoreline respectable until the second (successful) spot kick late on.2016-09-03 Mansfield Cambridge

The travelling Cambridge fans had to wait an hour for their team to muster a shot on goal here, although fortunately for them Mansfield weren’t having a particularly inspiring afternoon themselves. While the home side looked the more deserving winners of the two, only a couple of their efforts were struck from good positions and they were unable to threaten very frequently.
2016-09-03 Morecambe Leyton O

Morecambe had actually started this game better prior to falling behind in the first half, so there was some justice in their equaliser early in the second. However from that point on it was Orient who did the bulk of the attacking – even after regaining the lead shortly afterwards – and look to have earned their away win.2016-09-03 Notts Co Grimsby

After an even opening half hour it looks like Grimsby had deservedly taken the lead, with Notts County offering little for the middle hour of this game. However the Mariners themselves struggled to maintain their momentum and could have been left empty-handed after a chaotic final 15 minutes. After netting from close range, County missed a penalty almost immediately afterwards (which is why their line keeps rising after their first goal) and grabbed a late equaliser that their overall performance looks to have merited.2016-09-03 Plymouth Cheltenham

A close but relatively uninspiring first hour was followed by a far better finish from Plymouth, who contained visitors Cheltenham for almost the entire second half while creating some of the game’s best chances. The Pilgrims certainly look to have deserved their late winner, having carved out opportunities of twice the menace overall.
2016-09-03 Portsmouth Crawley

Based on these two clubs’ recent performances, this was among the least surprising results of the day. Nearly all of Portsmouth’s games have seen them dominate by this sort of margin, although their finishing has sometimes let them down, so they were due to demolish somebody. Crawley never really got going here, with their shots few and far between, and it’s shaping up to be a challenging season for them.
2016-09-03 Stevenage Hartlepool

I live close enough to Stevenage’s ground that I hear about it when they score, so I didn’t get much peace this afternoon. Hartlepool took an early lead but offered virtually nothing for the remainder of the match and can therefore have no complaints about the result. While the first half was relatively even overall, the hosts dominated the second.2016-09-03 Yeovil Blackpool

Yeovil put in an almost anonymous attacking performance here, which brought back unwelcome memories of last season’s toothlessness. Blackpool didn’t offer much themselves at first, but found their rhythm as the match progressed and looked good value for both the result and their margin of victory.