Monday, 16 May 2016

Statistical review of the 2015-16 season

When assessing Coventry City's season one has to remember the state of the club a year ago – having to come from behind to win at Crawley to retain League One status after a season which was miserable even by Sky Blue standards, with only six home wins. The first-half of this season was remarkable and City were top of the pile after 20 games. Expectations rocketed but a miserable March with four consecutive defeats cost City dearly. The highlights of the campaign were Armstrong's scoring exploits and the autumn form of Murphy, Charles-Cook's record-breaking run and a host of classic matches at home (Peterborough, Gillingham & Bury) and away (Millwall & Crewe). The goals flowed & the defence was so much tighter & the form brought the fans back with crowds up 34%. There is lots of optimism that next season could see a host of records beaten – let's hope so!

Games: Coventry City played 49 competitive games this season, 46 league, 1 FA Cup, 1 League Cup & 1 Football League Trophy (Johnstone’s Paint Trophy) .

Points: The Sky Blues gathered 69 league points during the season. This was fourteen more than in 2014-15 and the highest total since three points were introduced for a win in 1981. The club have the unenviable record of being the only FL club not to have reached 70 points in a season since that rule change. The previous best was 66 when the club finished 11th in 2001-02.

Home Form: The home record was much improved: won 12, drew 6, lost 5. Twelve wins equals the club's best for a season since 1986-87 when there were 14 victories. On four occasions since 1987 they have won twelve, the last time being the first season at the Ricoh in 2005-06. Only five defeats were suffered at home, the lowest for a home season since 2005-06 (four). One of those defeats was to Steven Pressley's Fleetwood. Pressley was the first former City manager to return & win in Coventry since Harry Storer with Birmingham in 1947. It was the first time the team have won more than 50% of home games since that debut season at the Ricoh.

Away Form: The away record: won 7, drew 6, lost 10, earned 27 points, one short on the previous season. City won at Millwall for the first time in 17 visits since their last victory there in 1955. The victory at Blackpool was the first there since 1925. There was no luck however at Swindon (last league win there since 1960), or Rochdale (where City have never won in nine visits now).

Biggest win: The biggest win of the season was the 6-0 home victory over Bury in February which was the biggest league win since the 8-1 thrashing of Shrewsbury in 1963 and the first 'six' at home since Derby were defeated 6-1 in 2005-06. The 5-0 win at Crewe was the biggest away win for three years – since they won by the same score at Hartlepool.

Biggest defeat: The 0-3 defeat at Southend in January was the biggest defeat and the heaviest home league defeat was a 0-2 loss to Burton. No team scored more than three goals against the Sky Blues – the first instance of this since 1997-98.

Goals for: The goals for total of 67 was a big improvement on 2014-15's 49. On only two occasions in the last 49 years has that total been bettered (1977-78 (75) and 2013-14 (74). 41 of those goals came at home, and looked to be the best in the division until Peterborough's goal rush against Blackpool on the final day. It equalled the total home goals at Sixfields in 2013-14 and is the best haul since 1977-78. City, amazingly, failed to score in fourteen league games (the same as last season) but scored more than two goals on ten occasions in the league compared to only two in 2014-15.

Goals against: Despite criticism from some quarters City conceded only 49 goals – 11 less than last season and 28 less than 2013-14. It is the lowest number conceded since 1997-98 (44) and the lowest in a 46-game season since 1958-59 (43). The away goals conceded was impressive – just 25 in 23 games and the lowest since 1988-89 (19 in 19 games). The team kept sixteen clean sheets in the league, only two short of the club record of 18 set in 1938-39 and 1958-59. Reice Charles-Cook kept Thirteen and Lee Burge three.

Amazing first-halves: On three occasions the Sky Blues scored four goals without reply in the first-half: Gillingham (h), Crewe (a) & Bury (h). This had only happened twice in the last 50 years (v Derby in the last game at Highfield Road in 2005 and v Preston a year earlier).

Final position: The final position of 8th was nine places higher than 2014-15 and the first top half finish since 2005-06 when they also finished 8th. They are the only club, bar long-serving Premiership clubs and recent promotees from the Conference, not to have been promoted or reached the play-offs since the play-offs were introduced in 1987 nor to finish in the top six of a division. The club did top the League One table for three weeks in November and December – the first time they had headed any division, other than early season, since November 2001.

Leading scorers: Adam Armstrong was leading scorer with 20 goals, all in the league. Jacob Murphy was runner up with 10 goals (9 league, 1 cup). Armstrong is only the third player in the last 49 years to score 20 or more league goals, following in the footsteps of Ian Wallace (21 in 1977-78) and Callum Wilson (21 in 2013-14). Eighteen different players were on the score-sheet during the season equalling the club high set in 2003-04.

Doubles: City achieved the double over two sides, Millwall & Crewe. . On the other hand only Scunthorpe did the double over City .

Appearances: Romain Vincelot celebrated his first season at Coventry by starting the most league games. He played in 45 out of 46, only missing the Port Vale away game through suspension. The Frenchman started the League Cup tie at Rochdale but was omitted from the other two cup games. Sam Ricketts also started 46 in total (43 league and 3 cup). John Fleck started 43 games in total (40 league & 3 cup). It was the third season running that Fleck has made over 40 league appearances and he was only missing through injury & suspension. For the fifth season running no outfield player was an ever present in the league – the last to do so was Richard Keogh in 2010-11 – but Vincelot made more appearances than any outfield player since Keogh.

Players used: Thirty-nine players were used in league and cup games - two more than in 2014-15 and five short of the club record of 44 in 2002-03. Of the 39, 24 players made their debuts during the season and three, Ivor Lawton, Lateef Elford-Alliyu and Bassala Sambou, only appeared in cup games. Ten loan players were used. In addition to the 39 players used, four more, Ben Stevenson, Danny Swanson, Adam Jackson and Corey Addai sat on the bench as substitutes but were not used.

Home-grown players: Of the 39 players used 14 of them (including loanees Ben Turner & Gael Bigirimana) were home grown products of the Academy. It is now more than six years that a City team did not include a home-grown player.

Records: John Fleck took his total appearances to 182 & is now 54th on the club's all-time appearance chart, level with Greg Downs, David Smith, Dele Adebola and Carl Baker. Only one other player, Conor Thomas, has reached the 100 appearance milestone – he has now played 117 games.

Goalkeeping record: In his first season Reice Charles-Cook broke Steve Ogrizovic's post-war shut-out record. First he became the first City goalkeeper to not concede a goal in his first four league games and then at Swindon he overtook Oggy's record and went on to keep a clean sheet for a total of 580 minutes before two late Swindon goals. He finished just 28 minutes short of Horace Pearson's record, set in 1934.

Substitutes: Marcus Tudgay made the most substitute appearances (19 league) – whilst Ruben Lameiras was the most substituted player (16 times). Seven substitutes came off the bench and scored: Tudgay did it three times (Swindon a, Fleetwood h, Millwall h), the others were Maddison (Port Vale h), Murphy (Walsall a), Rose (Bradford h) and Lameiras (Sheff.United h). Tudgay is the first City player to score three from the bench since Patrick Suffo in 2004-05 (one league, two League Cup) and no City player has scored four from the bench in a season. In the home game with Doncaster City did not use a substitute for only the second time in almost four years. Rose's goal against Bradford was timed at 35 seconds after he entered the pitch & is probably the second fastest by a substitute (after Wayne Andrews' goal at Barnsley in 2006).

Average attendance: Home 12,570 (2014-15 9,332), up 34.7% & the third highest in League One, behind Sheffield United & Bradford City. Away 7,665 (2014-15 7,397), up 3.6% & the third highest in the division, behind Wigan & Sheffield United. If away fans are stripped out of the attendances, the average home following was 11,633 up 38% from 8,431.

Highest home attendance: The biggest league crowd was 17,779 for the Boxing Day game against Port Vale. Apart from last season's game with Gillingham this was the highest City league crowd for four years, since Easter 2012 when over 18,000 watched Peterborough play. There was only one home cup-tie – Northampton in the FA Cup – but a large contingent of Cobblers' fans boosted the crowd to 9,124, the highest home crowd in the competition since Chelsea came in 2009.

Lowest home attendance: The lowest league crowd of the season was 9,942 for the Rochdale game in March. This compares well with the lowest Ricoh crowd in 2014-15 - only 6,885 watched a midweek game versus Scunthorpe.

Away followings:
For league games City’s away following averaged 1,339 (2014-15 1,002), an increase of 33.6% The best following of the season was 2,883 to Blackpool, closely followed by 2,636 to Chesterfield at Christmas. The smallest was 535 for the midweek trip to Barnsley, although only 400 City fans attended the cup games at Rochdale & Yeovil. Swindon brought 2,432 fans to the Ricoh in March, the largest league away following but Northampton's Cup following of 2,509 topped that. At the other extreme, Fleetwood brought only 111 fans in February, ten less than the previous season and the lowest following since the Ricoh opened in 2005.

Highest away attendance: The biggest away league crowd was at Sheffield United's Bramall Lane (18,074).

Lowest away attendance: The smallest away crowd was 2,495 at Rochdale in October. This was the smallest away league crowd for a City game since 2,077 watched City play Wimbledon at Selhurst Park in 2002 and the third lowest away league crowd since the war. At Yeovil in the Football League Trophy (JPT) there were only 1,605 present and 400 of them came from Coventry. It was the lowest crowd to watch the Sky Blues in that competition.

Won from behind: (4) City came from behind to win on four occasions versus Peterborough (h) (for the third season running), Burton (a), Colchester (a) & Millwall (h).. For the second season running City came from two goals down to beat Posh after 29 years since the last league two goal comeback. On three occasions the team came from behind to get a draw Southend (h), Chesterfield (a) & Rochdale LC (a) but in the latter game lost on penalties. 15 points were won from losing positions, one more than last season.

Lost from in front: (1) The only game City lost after being in front was at Shrewsbury. In six games City took the lead only to be pegged back for draws. At Swindon City threw away a two goal lead to draw – the fourth season running that a lead has been thrown away & resulting in a total of nine points dropped. . 13 points were lost from leading positions which was a massive improvement on last season's 26 lost points.

Best run: The Sky Blues went unbeaten in eleven league games after losing at Bury in September before losing at Bramall Lane on 13 December. This was the club's best run since 2001 when Roland Nilsson's side went 11 without loss. If they had avoided defeat at Sheffield it would have been the best run since Jimmy Hill's promotion side's 25-game run in 1967. The season started with three wins which, when added to the victory at Crawley on the last day of 2014-15 meant a run of four successive victories for the first time since December 2002. The team were unbeaten in league games at home until January, a total of 13 home games – the best home start to a season since 1955 under Jesse Carver (15). The run was the best home run at the Ricoh and the best since 1978-79 when Gordon Milne's team were unbeaten for 15 home games.

Worst run: Up until January the team did not lose consecutive games then a three loss run followed a run of four successive defeats in 11 days at the start of March proved to be the definitive part of the season.It was the worst run of losses since the dark days of September 2012 when Richard Shaw was caretaker manager.

Hat-tricks: (2) After six years without a Sky Blue hat-trick we got two in two months. At home to Gillingham, Jacob Murphy scored the fastest post-war hat-trick (10 minutes) and the first first-half hat-trick since Kevin Gallacher in 1990. Then at Crewe Adam Armstrong became the youngest ever hat-trick scorer with his three in the 5-0 win breaking Tom English's 35-year record. It was also City's first away league hat-trick since Lee Hughes at the same ground in 2002. Prior to this Armstrong had netted five braces including the first debutant to score two goals on his first appearance at home since Robbie Keane in 1999.

Opposing hat-tricks: (0) No opposing player scored a hat-trick. Several managed two including Bury's Leon Clarke, Barnsley's Josh Scowen, Doncaster's Nathan Tyson and Southend's Tyrone Bennett. Walsall's Tom Bradshaw and Sheffield United's Billy Sharp scored home and away against the Sky Blues. Sharp has an outstanding record against City with six goals in eight games. This season only two former City players netted against City, former loanee Danny Philliskirk scored for Oldham and Clarke was the other. Last season six former players scored. Clarke was the first ex-player to score a brace against City since Steve Whitton for West Ham in 1983.

Own goals: For City: (1) Richard Wood (Fleetwood) was the first ex-City man to score an own goal since Jon Stead at Bristol City in 2012.

Own goals: By City: (2) Aaron Martin (Burton a) and Chris Stokes (Northampton FAC h)

Penalties: For City: (3) City's pitiful penalty record continued with three successes from six attempts. Armstrong (2) and Fortune were the scorers. O'Brien, Tudgay and Murphy the missers. City have scored just four from the last 13 spot-kicks. In addition City lost two penalty shoot-outs in cup competitions – at Rochdale in the League Cup (3-5) and at Yeovil in the FLT (JPT) (3-4).

Penalties: Against City: (6) Six opposition players netted from the spot - Mooney (Southend h), Clarke (Bury a), Scowen (Barnsley h), Barnett (Southend a), Henderson (Rochdale) & Sharp (Sheff.United). Two opponents missed penalties – Lee Burge saved Millwall's Gregory's penalty & Reice Charles-Cook saved Wigan's Grigg's penalty.

Fastest Goal scored: 2 minutes: Ryan Kent scored after two minutes of the home game with Barnsley.

Fastest Goal conceded: 5 minutes: Chris Stokes' own goal against Northampton was timed at five minutes.

Red cards: Coventry: (2): Ricketts (Sheff.United a) & Vincelot (Scunthorpe h) This is the highest number since 2010-11 but short of the record seven set in 2001-02 & 2002-03.

Red cards: Opponents: (4) Dieseruvwe (Chesterfield h), Deegan (Southend a), Williams (Millwall h) & Davies (Bradford h). Deegan was the first former City player to see red against the Sky Blues since Steve Hunt was ordered off playing for West Brom at Highfield Road in 1985.

FA Cup: For the second season running the Sky Blues lost at home in the first round to a lower status club, League Two Northampton.

Bookings: There was a battle royal between Fleck & Vincelot for the most yellow cards award but Fleck's booking in the final home game clinched the title for the Scot. It was his 13th yellow card with Vincelot on 12 and he earned the award for the third season running.

The Manager: Tony Mowbray has undoubtedly had a big impact on the club & it is interesting to note that of Coventry City managers that have been in charge for at least one whole season, he has the best win ratio of any since Jimmy Hill 50 years ago. His 40.7% win ratio in league games is bettered by only three managers in that time: Roland Nilsson, Eric Black & Mark Robins, none of whom stayed a whole seasoC cn.

Television: The Sky Blues appeared live on television on three occasions, at Burton, Sheffield United & Peterborough. The victory at Burton was the first City televised win since 2008 when a Clinton Morrison goal won the points at St Andrews. Between then and Burton City had failed to win in eight away games on the box.

New Grounds: City played at Burton Albion's Pirelli Stadium for the first time & came away with three points, one of only two teams to win there this season.

Man of the Match: Two players shared top place in Andy Turner's Man of the Match awards. Jacob Murphy & John Fleck both won Andy's vote on seven occasions. Reice Charles-Cook was third with five awards and Adam Armstrong and Sam Ricketts each won four. Although he started 12 games, Reda Johnson won only one Man of the Match award. Once again the team's record when he played was amazing- the side only lost three of those 12 games. Over the two seasons he was at the club he started 32 league games and the team's record in those games was won 15, drew 11, lost 6. What a pity he suffered key injuries in both terms.

With many thanks to Paul O’Connor.

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