League 2 timelines, 24 Sep 2016

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:


There were dominant wins for Carlisle (top left) and Portsmouth (bottom left), while Crawley (in between those two) finished their game strongly to record a potentially crucial victory. I was surprised to see Yeovil – whose attack has struggled for a while – rack up so many goals against Cheltenham’s usually streetwise defence.

Individual matches

You can also see how the E Ratings predicted each of these games would turn out here.


Carlisle were heavy favourites here and they look to have delivered on expectations. After a slow start they went on to create enough chances to score at least twice and ran out deserving winners, although a quieter Wycombe side could also have gotten on the scoresheet.

This looks to have been a game low on goalmouth action, although Accrington managed to get all six of their efforts on target. The visitors edged the contest late on with what looks like the game’s best chance, although this was otherwise an even game.

An own goal handed Blackpool the lead before either side had registered a shot, with the visitors’ late first half surge retrospectively earning them their lead. Crewe’s own rally in the second half yielded an equaliser but overall they should be the happier with the draw given how much their visitors were able to create.

With half an hour gone this looked like it was going to be another impressive Doncaster performance. They were 1-0 up and Luton hadn’t even gotten a shot away, but the Hatters then turned the game on its head: striking twice before half time and barely allowing their visitors another look-in.

Saturday’s early game was settled by a first half penalty, after which Grimsby clung on as Mansfield vainly attempted to find an equaliser. The hosts were the busier side and on another day might have succeeded, but were unable to create much of genuine menace.

Five goals in the last 20 minutes saw Crawley grab a deserved-looking win over the only club with a worse rating than theirs. The visitors found their rhythm after an even and dull-looking first hour, suddenly creating chances of increased quality and quantity while Morecambe were unable to reply. The hosts’ late double bookended a third away goal that put the game out of their reach.

Finally a bit of luck for Cambridge, who hadn’t been performing anywhere near badly enough to be sat bottom. They went in second best at half time here but raised their game in the second half to record their first win of the campaign, although a point apiece may have been the fairer result overall.

Notts County had a man sent off with 20 minutes to go, but held on to their lead and even managed to re-extend it late on. Orient had started better but then faded, only sparking back into life when handed a numerical advantage, although on another day the same overall balance of chances may have seen them leave with a point.

A late penalty rescued a point for Plymouth, although even without it they’d have been decent value for a share of the spoils here. Hartlepool started more brightly but neither side created much of note overall, with the visitors particularly quiet in the second half.

Barnet played the final half an hour with 10 men but by then the damage had already been done. Portsmouth were already 3-1 up, having kept the Bees almost completely quiet apart from a first half penalty, and missed their own spot kick before adding two more goals late on to cap another dominant performance.

I was at this game and this looks pretty accurate to me. Exeter were reduced to 10 men (a bit harsly I thought) with less than half an hour played but Stevenage were unable to take advantage. Despite raining in a succession of chances, the hosts looked hesitant in their finishing and the Grecians’ makeshift defence was in fine form.

Arguably the weekend’s most action-packed game – with six goals from five goals’ worth of chances – saw Yeovil edge a close contest. The Glovers had started more brightly but Cheltenham had caught up with them by the time they netted their second just before the hour mark. However the visitors couldn’t make any further headway in a stodgy second half and had any remaining hopes dashed late on.