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Round Three: Eagle
Written by Kropotkin123 on Sunday, 22nd Sep 2019 18:32

Introduction
Par was set at five points from one win and two draws. We managed to get a haul of seven points, which means we were two under par. Google promises me that this is an eagle.

Before we get into the Round Three overview. Let’s take a moment to acknowledge an important fact. Twenty per cent of the season is done. Done and never to be seen again. Whatever Doris Day has in store for us, we’ve done well up until now.

We are undefeated. We’ve had six clean sheets. Four of which were away from home. We have conceded the fewest goals in the division. Scored the fourth most. We have the best away form. The best 'last eight' form and are top of the table.

On a side note, if you have no clue what this post is about, please go down to the bottom to catch-up on how the projections (not predictions) are made.

Round Three: Eagle
First up was Doncaster, who at the time were undefeated. They are are currently seventh, which is where they are projected to finish.

But with Lincoln capitulating in the wake of the Cowley brothers departing on 9th September, Portsmouth sitting in 20th and Rotherham not up to much, don’t be surprised if they are in the play-offs or better.

They have a tidy defence, which is the second best in the league, a good work ethic and the majority of their games have been against top-half teams. It should be no surprise that when they are on it they can shut out and beat teams like Peterborough, as they did on Saturday.

Where they may struggle this season, relatively speaking, is in attack. At 1.38 goals per game, they sit below the league average of 1.40. When pushing for a top two spot, they may fall short for this reason.

We were projected to draw against Doncaster and we did. It was a decent result.

Next up were two away games. First we took 3,360 fans to Milton Keynes on a Tuesday night. If you haven’t seen the posts floating around, this was one fewer than the rest of the away support for the entire league. Let that sink in a moment. That is awesome. The videos were awesome. The result? Also awesome.

This was forecasted as a draw. So we really did steal two points here to move onto five under par. Golf refuses to validate any score lower than three under par with a birds' names. It’s a little inconvenient, but they probably didn’t have this blog in mind when they started it.

Forecasts always get a hiding from reality, which is always more bizarre than projective measures. When we were forecasted to draw against Milton Keynes, the simple calculations didn’t take into account that Milton Keynes don’t do draws. Nine games, no draws. So it is somewhat fortuitous that we came away with a win and not a loss I suppose.

Although that would require us conceding, which after five clean sheets in a row is also looking increasingly unlikely. Another bizarre stat that crops up with Milton Keynes is that they have played the most home games in the division (six). With them sitting 15th in the League, I wouldn’t be surprised if they end up placing well below their 11th place forecast.

Gillingham were four games unbeaten before they played us. Home games also accounted for 70% of Gillingham's total points and 71% of the goals they have scored so far this season. This includes a 2-0 win against third-placed Wycombe. So they were in good form, particularly at home and were probably hopeful we would underestimate them so they could walk away with a draw or sneak a win.

Gillingham were always going to be a threat in this game, with a 1.56 goals per game (inclusive of our result) this puts them well above the aforementioned 1.40 league average. Even though we kept a clean sheet against them, they remain the league’s joint-seventh highest scorers.

Another great following, filling out all of the 2,000 seats in the away section. Holy, keen to boost my statistics count, said he was at Gillingham for 2.5 years and it is only the second time he has seen the away end full.

Round Five Projections: Seven Points, Two Wins, One Draw
Okay, okay, okay. I know. This is definitely harder on paper than on the forecast. This may be where we relinquish some of our hard earned five under par. Either way, we love to assign fault on TWTD and I can categorically lay the blame at the bookies' feet. They hopelessly forecasted that Wycombe would get relegated in 22nd place. They had the same odds as Tranmere and were only below them due to alphabetical discrimination.

We can’t just change things around to suit us at this stage. If I decide to change things around it will be halfway through the season, when we have played 22 games, switching to a fixed league table standing.

Tranmere were predicted to finished 21st and are currently 18th. After a generally poor start, they only have one loss in five. A draw against Peterborough and a win against Burton should give them the confidence that they can finish above Southend, Wimbledon and Bolton.

Tranmere got promoted last season, with our new striker James Norwood being a key reason for that. We are already seeing why he was so successful last season and by his accounts can do much better.

Tranmere are not really having fun on the road though. Only 11% of their points and 7% of their goals have come away from home.

Fleetwood, who sit in fourth place, are outrageous when it comes to goals. Their matches average 3.33 goals per game (GPG), which is the joint-third highest. The difference to a team like Peterborough and Tranmere (also 3.33 GPG) is that they score and concede rather than score or concede.

Whilst Peterborough are joint-second lowest when it comes to both teams scoring (33% BTS), Fleetwood are joint-third highest with 78% BTS.

One hundred per cent of their matches have had 2+ goals per game and that is in stark contrast to us. Our matches have the joint-second lowest goals per game. Even with a 5-0 win against Bolton and a 3-0 win against Shrewsbury, this shouldn’t be too surprising, given our six clean sheets.

When two contrasting playing styles come together, it is always interesting to see which one prevails. Personally I can see us shutting them out, as they don’t seem to travel too well. So far they have only amassed four points from a possible 12 on the road. Note they scored eight goals in these games, but conceded nine.

On to Wycombe. When we last spoke, Wycombe were four over par. This meant that despite sitting in fifth place, they were actually doing worse than a projected top two side and despite a decent set of results, I really expected them to fall away.

Instead it is Lincoln who have really fallen apart. Wycombe’s last six form is eighth, compare to Lincoln who are now 21st in the form table. Over the past six games Wycombe have won three, drawn two and lost one. They have scored nine and conceded seven. This is compared to our W5, D1, L0, F12 and A1.

Wycombe’s sole loss this season has come Gillingham. Looking at their fixtures, the jury is still out on whether they have actually been playing like a top-six side, or whether they are just playing well against poorer opposition.

Over the next six games they play Rochdale, Peterborough, Ipswich, Sunderland, Blackpool and Rotherham. This horrible set of fixtures highlights that they have had some easier games and it will really show us if they are here to stay.

To highlight where I sit on this, they have played four of the bottom five at home and fifth team away. They have only played three of the top 10 and have played one more game than Ipswich, Coventry, Fleetwood and Sunderland. They have played two more than Doncaster in seventh.

With this in mind, the seven-point par may be more realistic than first thought.

Top Seven Table
Team, Points, Par
Ipswich, 21, -5
Coventry City, 19, +1
Wycombe, 19, +5
Fleetwood, 17, +2
Sunderland, 16, 0
Blackpool, 16, +8
Doncaster, 15, 0

To recap, the higher the minus figure, the better you are doing. In a 24-team division division, par would be 90 points. So at the moment Ipswich are on course to get 95 points (89 when we factor out Bury).

Ipswich are the only team in the top seven to remain under par. This suggests we are currently on course to win the league. But bear in mind that 80% of the season is still to play for, so let’s not go counting chickens just yet.

Second place is projected to be Doncaster or Sunderland. Sunderland’s form is dubious though. A -3 picked up against Portsmouth is really helping to hide some horrible results.With Doncaster, it underlines what I said about lower league opposition and their firepower.

I don’t know enough about Doncaster. I don’t know if they need to bring in a striker or a creative player for their strikers. But against the four best teams they have played they are -7 and against the bottom four teams their have played they are +7. It is a massive swing. If they can pick up someone to break down these lower ranked teams, they can really make the top two a realistic target.

Wycombe and Blackpool are really highlighting the fortuitous fixtures they have had in this table.

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Side Note For Newcomers
Round One: Establishes why I did this, why 90 points is the target, how I have modelled the fixtures and what par is based on. There are also two nice and related videos in response.

Round Two: A lot of people didn’t like that par was set at nine points for round two, so further explanation was given. There are a lot of good questions that would potentially make a nice FAQ, given a bit more commitment on my side.

Pointofblue really draws out that projections aren’t connected. So when we played Sunderland we were both projected to lose. The fact that we drew meant we both got -1. This is because we are projecting 90 points for each team, not simulating a league.




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peaky69 added 04:46 - Sep 23
I absolutely love this analysis type stuff Kropotkin123.
I actually do something similar with a far more simplistic measurement of bookmakers odds and estimating the number of points required for automatic promotion or the play-offs.
For what it is worth we were 5 points ahead of expectation for both after August and, with a game to go already 5 points ahead for the play-offs and 4 points ahead of promotion requirements.
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Kropotkin123 added 20:39 - Sep 24
Thank you, I've been playing around with how to do this over the last 9 games. I might try and make it a bit more concise next time.

Seems like our projections are pretty close, which is re-assuring that we are hitting the mark.
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