League 2 2016-17: stats dump

After last week’s onslaught of post-season League 2 graphics I wanted to round up some of the other useful – but less obviously visual – stats that I hadn’t managed to work into anything I’d produced. I’m working on a couple of template designs to house some of the simpler stats next season so I thought I’d road-test one of them here by pulling together some club rankings covering a range of measures that might make for some interesting comparisons.

I’m always happy to field requests for anything people would like to see, and may well ask a few questions ahead of next season about what sort of thing I should be focusing on.

Clean sheets

Starting with something simple, here’s how many clean sheets each club kept over the course of the season:

Champions Portsmouth kept three more clean sheets than anyone else and an honourable mention should go to Mansfield given that they started the season poorly. Carlisle‘s problems at the back this season are laid bare by the fact that only Leyton Orient registered fewer shut-outs.

Before we move on, we can also look at defensive solidity from a slightly different angle and measure each club’s longest run of minutes without conceding a goal, which to my mind is a bit more fun (and easier to rank) than “consecutive clean sheets”:
It’s an interesting coincidence that the four South West teams managed the four longest runs without conceding a goal, despite two of them ending up not far from the relegation zone.

Failure to score

Let’s now look at the mirror image of a clean sheet – the failure to score:

Five of the top six clubs make up the top five in this table and are the only teams to have drawn blanks in a single-digit number of games each. The sixth team are Exeter who – thanks to that dire start that saw them sitting in the relegation zone as late as November – endured more failures to score than all but three other clubs this season.

Again we can look at each club’s longest run of minutes:

That awful Carlisle goalless run, from late February through to the start of April without scoring a league goal, saw them tumble from an automatic promotion place out of the top seven altogether and was the longest of any club in the top four divisions this season. Despite a lowly finish culminating in a late managerial change, nobody endured a shorter spell without a goal than Crawley.

Types of shot

I also wanted to look briefly at attacking style, starting with the proportion of headed shots that each club took:

Wycombe‘s summer capture of Adebayo Akinfenwa was surely a sign of the type of football they were looking to play this season: almost a quarter of their efforts were headers. Crewe are still a side who like to keep the ball on the deck by the looks.

I’m also interested in long range shots, which are perhaps less of a stylistic choice and often tell us about a team’s ability to work the ball into dangerous positions:

Doncaster didn’t take an excessive amount of shots this season but they didn’t need to, with almost three quarters coming from inside the box. This is by far the lowest of any EFL club and suggests an impressive ability to break down a defence.

Meanwhile Accrington and Newport were the only two clubs to fire in over half of their shots from outside the box, which goes some way to explaining their disappointing campaigns.

Shot dominance

I already have the scatter graphics to show a team’s shot stats in detail, but I was interested in how often each club out-shot their opponents:

This is a good illustration of why my model likes Portsmouth so much: they out-shot their opponents in 39 out of 46 matches (and tied in a further two), which makes them the most dominant chance creators by some distance.

The location of Plymouth here – near the bottom and surrounded by mostly bottom-half sides – also shows why the model remained suspicious of them this season. They might not be able to repeat the same trick in League 1 next season, so perhaps we’ll see some summer re-engineering.


Something I realised that I hadn’t covered at all this season was points taken from winning and losing positions, so I wanted to take a quick look at these, starting with the former:

Plymouth may not have dominated matches but, like Portsmouth, they were almost unstoppable once they got their noses in front this season. If Hartlepool had retained the whopping 32 points they dropped from winning positions (only Gillingham in League 1 lost more this season with 36) then they’d have finished 4th!

Now let’s look at points recovered after going behind:

Again we have five of the top six – and again excluding Exeter – at the top of this graph, so keeping heads up after falling behind appears to be a crucial ingredient in a successful campaign. There’s definitely work to do at Grimsby, who only recovered four points from a possible 60 after going a goal down.


I wanted to look at fouls, which I thought would be interesting to look at in terms of who committed more fouls than their opponents in the highest proportion of games:

Newport and Wycombe were the scrappiest teams in the division, out-fouling over two thirds of their opponents this season, while Mansfield were the cleanest with fewer than one in five of the teams that faced them being fouled more.

Game states

Finally I wanted to crowbar in a slightly different chart which shows how long each club spent winning, drawing and losing this season. Clubs are sorted by the difference between the amount of time spent winning and losing:

It’s been a frustrating season for Colchester, who missed out on a play-off spot despite spending more time in the lead than anyone except Doncaster. It looks like Yeovil need to find a more effective way of breaking out of stalemates, with nobody spending more time drawing this season.