Judging Swindon’s strikers: One missed every minute

Alex Cooke compares the scoring prowess of Obika, Hylton, Delfouneso and Norris with Chelsea’s Feruz (and rumoured target Dagger’s Oliver Hawkins)

In this transfer window, Town have been linked with forwards (Oliver Hawkins) and actually brought one in (Chelsea’s Islam Feruz) which seems a perfect excuse to compare the current crop and the new  one.

It is clear that Town have a problem scoring goals – in the league only Shrews, Coventry and Oldham have scored fewer. They also have a problem with forwards scoring goals – Luke Norris leads the way as top scorer with a measly four.

Swindon’s four main forwards have hardly impressed, for various reasons. Aside from Norris’s four goals, Jon Obika and Nathan Delfouneso both have three and Jermaine Hylton’s strikes have all come away from the club. To compare them all with the new and prospective signing, I’ve looked at the number of goals they’ve score through the number of minutes they spent on the pitch. It is more accurate than judging appearances as for every scoring 20- minute super-sub many more are put on with seconds to go solely to run down the clock. 

Looking at the season so far (prior to Shrewsbury): Delfouneso had scored three goals for Swindon in 1565 minutes on the pitch. Norris had four goals in 1716 minutes. Obika notched four in 1076 minutes. Finally we have Jermaine Hylton who is yet to score for Swindon this season in 789 minutes. Not exactly thrilling stuff, but once we compare it to what these players have done in the past, it gets a bit more illuminating.

Obika has actually scored a goal every 214 minutes throughout his career. Norris has one every 277 minutes. Delfouneso, who has never been prolific, has scored every 339 minutes. Hylton has to be ignored in this comparison as without detailed non-league data he is all the way out on 914 minutes per goal. 

strike rates with captions.jpg
Contrast that with Feruz and Hawkins, both are have scored at a much more rapid rate
(199 and 175 minutes per goal respectively). But how the goals have been scored couldn’t be more different: Hawkins has scored 16 of his 17 goals at National League standard, all of Feruz’s 21 goals have come at youth or reserve level football. Likewise both Obika and Delfouneso scored plenty of their goals in reserve football, which is in contrast to Norris who has scored all of his in the pro game, in the cups or League One and Two.

But what is a goal worth? Are Delfouneso’s Checkatrade Trophy goals worth less than his UEFA Cup ones? The standard clearly isn’t as good but should they be ignored or devalued? After all Delfouneso is the only one to have scored Premier League goals but that was a long time ago now especially compared to a scoring just eight goals in the last four seasons? 

What about Feruz compared to Hylton? How do youth goals compare to amateur ones? Particularly since both seem to be competitors for the same role as paced or wide strikers. 

Answers on a postcard please, or in the Comments box below. Whichever is easier. 

With Feroz it is also worth noting that many of his minutes came in very late substitutions: His two appearances for Blackpool add up to just 16 minutes, his seven appearances for Belgian side Mouscron total a mere 164 minutes. While it certainly hints at another problem, it goes some way to explaining his scoring rate outside of development football.

But are strikers the only problem behind Swindon’s poor scoring? After all Obika and Norris are some way behind their career standard rates and Town don’t real trail their current Expected Goals ranking.

The bad news is that Town have actually become less threatening in front of goal of late. Since Tim Sherwood took over Town’s goals per game has dropped from 1 to 0.888. Chance creation is also broadly down. Swindon’s average shots per game has dropped from 11.56 to 9.77, although their shots on target per game has stayed similar (3.75 to 3.55) per game. And, using Experimental 361’s measure for Expected Goals has also dropped from 1.09 to 0.84 per game (All before Shrews).

Perhaps Town should be more worried about creating chances than just finishing the few they have? Perhaps it is time for Ben Gladwin? (One goal every 403 minutes). But that is the subject for another blog…

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