League 1 timelines, 17 Sep 2016: Blades back to their best?

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:


While Sheffield United put in a dominant performance to move into the play-off places, some similarly assured attacking displays from both Bradford and Oldham failed to elicit the same reward. There were plenty of close games this weekend, with plenty of sides edging encounters that could easily have ended as draws.

Individual matches


After a close and relatively dull first half, Bradford came alive after the break and were eventually rewarded for a dominant second half display. However Rovers – who had looked significantly off the pace since half time – rallied and snatched a late, seemingly fortunate equaliser in the game’s closing minutes to deny their hosts what would have been a convincing victory.

Wimbledon had long looked doomed here: they’d conceded early and had only troubled the home defence once in over an hour of football, while hosts Charlton had forayed forward regularly. However a late fightback, culminating in two goals from their last two attacks, netted them all three points in fortunate-looking circumstances.

Northampton’s incredible unbeaten run came to an end here and it was also the first time that they’d even fallen behind this season. On balance it looks like they were unlucky to lose, having created better chances than Chesterfield overall, although their defence was perhaps due a bad day at the office after some impressively resilient displays this season.

While Coventry finished this game in control, it looks like they were fortunate not to have fallen behind after Oldham had dominated much of the second half. The visiting Latics created enough chances to net twice here, with their hosts unable to carve out opportunities of equivalent menace, so this feels like a point gained for the Sky Blues. Incidentally, this was Oldham’s fourth 0-0 of the season and Coventry’s third.

MK Dons have out-shot every opponent they’ve played so far, suggesting that the lack of a cutting edge up front is costing them at the moment. They started and ended the second half in much better shape than Oxford in what was an even game until the final moments, but ultimately were unable to make their chances count.

Despite going almost the entire first half without a shot, Port Vale registered a win thanks to a rampage in the last 20 minutes. Gillingham had offered little themselves other than a couple of excellent first half chances that yielded their goal, but overall looked to have done enough to earn a share of the spoils.

Rochdale have been overdue a bit of luck – their performances have been nowhere near as bad as their league position suggests – and their late goal here provided it. Having been pegged back by a Fleetwood penalty in the first half, they rallied late in the second to snatch a win from a game where a draw would probably have been a fairer outcome.

A rampant start from Sheffield United suggested that the Blades are making up for lost time after their disappointing start. Peterborough were barely in this game for the first half an hour and even when they began to turn the tide they were mostly limited to long-range efforts. While the home side could easily have scored another, the margin of victory looks about right given the balance of chances overall.

This was a far more muted display that watchers of Scunthorpe have been used to – in fact it’s the first Iron match this season not to see at least three goals scored. Shrewsbury contained their high-flying visitors impressively in the first half – at least until the game’s only goal went in just before the interval – and can consider themselves unlucky not to have held out for a point overall.

Southend fans will surely be relieved to have seen their team move out of the relegation zone with this win, but it looks to have been fortunately acquired. Millwall created chances of similar quality overall, so if the ball had bounced a bit differently the Shrimpers may have come away two points lighter. Still, matching one of the division’s stronger sides is cause for encouragement.

A heavily-rotated Swindon side which saw eight changes to their last starting line-up (with a couple surely enforced by suspensions) conceded their first goals at home this season in a close contest. The hosts created marginally more overall so were perhaps unlucky not to draw, particularly after containing usually shot-happy Bury for long periods here.

Despite going a man down after a quarter of an hour, Walsall proceeded to take the lead and then stubbornly cling onto it for a precious three points. Bolton laboured to recover and it wasn’t until the final quarter of an hour that they caught up with their depopulated hosts’ expected goals tally, although they looked unlucky to leave empty-handed after a strong finish.