4 games into the season, 2 goals scored, no points and little did anyone connected with Sligo Rovers realise that there was a 4-month gap until they next played in the League AND that they would end the season with 25 points from 42 and a place in Europe. Amazing turnaround!

With some excellent early business done already, it could be a big 2021 for everyone at Sligo Rovers. In this article, we will take a deep dive into the performance data output that was the drive behind this revival in the Sligo Rovers squad this season.

All stats highlighted are for players who played a min. of 270 league mins this season.

Goalkeeping

As mentioned in previous articles, our GK model is still under development. Ed McGinty was named in several our Team of the Week selections, earning a few call-ups to the Irish U21 squad because of his excellent form. Our standout goalkeeper moment of the season (subjectively speaking) was his save in the last game of the season from Brian Gartland’s header. A save that we should be watching for years to come!

Defensive metrics

Def 1v1: Lewis Banks was the squad leader when it came to defensive 1v1 situations (definition in previous articles). Lewis led the way with 5.54 successful def. 1v1 situations per 90 mins. along with the highest success rate (65.00%) – it should be noted that Danny Kane stood out in 1v1 success rate (84.62%) but had a far inferior engagement rate (85% less) across this metric, compared to Banks.

Notable mentions for the two midfield generals in the team, Niall Morahan and David Cawley. Morahan came in 2nd for successful def 1v1/90 (5.46), had the highest number of successful def 1v1 encounters (91) and the highest overall number of encounters (161). David Cawley was not far behind, with the 2nd highest number of overall encounters (140) and third highest successful def 1v1/90 output (4.77). Two players doggedly winning the ball back for their team.

Tackles: Lewis Banks again led the way here, with successful tackles/90 mins (0.53) over the season; a tackle being any sliding challenge made to dispossess an opponent. Again, Niall Morahan ranks highly with the highest tackle success rate (85.71%) & the joint highest number of successful tackles over the season (6, along with David Cawley and Jesse Devers). David Cawley stood out, however, with the most amount of tackle attempts (14).

Def Aerial duels: Two players stand out here; Kyle Callan-McFadden contested the highest number of duels (72) and winning the most (42). John Mahon returned from injury and got going straight away, winning 5.67 aerial duels/90 mins. Huge numbers considering he was returning from a lengthy injury absence. This amounted to a 65.38% success rate, ranking him first in this metric also.

Progressive Regains %: Our final metric for ranking the defensive side of the game is the progressive regain %. As mentioned in our previous article, it gives a greater sense of what a player does once possession is regained. Three players stood out here in this metric, all three of them defenders: Kyle Callan-McFadden, Darragh Noone, and Lewis Banks. Callan-McFadden led the way with 85.05% regain success rate, Noone second with 82.98% and Banks third with 82.43%.

Once again, yet another notable mention for Niall Morahan, the highest number of progressive interceptions (42) and progressive recoveries (101) over the season.

Summary: A difficult one here – Lewis Banks and Kyle Callan-McFadden stood out from the rest across several metrics, but Niall Morahan was consistently high across most defensive metrics. I think that his steady presence in the midfield, winning back possession and outshining most defensive players in the side across the defensive metrics, is just about enough to give him the nod over Lewis Banks and Kyle Callan-McFadden.

Attacking Metrics

Goal Scoring: Sligo Rovers scored 19 goals this season, from 163 efforts on goal. Based on shot location only, their total season xG was 21.74 goals. Close to parity, where actual goals scored matches xG. Ronan Coughlan was, unsurprisingly, the main man in this metric. Scored the highest number of goals (6), had the highest number of efforts on goal (46), most efforts on goal per 90 (2.72) and the highest total xG (8.60). He wasn’t the most efficient in front of goal though, in terms of accuracy; David Cawley leading this metric with 50.00% shot efficiency across 14 efforts on goal.

Chances Created: The ‘chance creator’ is powerless as to whether it is an assist or not (down to his teammates’ ability to finish), but using chances created as a metric, this gives a clear indication of who the creative influences in the side are. Ryan de Vries was Sligo’s most creative player this season with 1.37 chances created/90 mins. David Cawley came in a close 2nd with 1.32 chances/90 mins (and led the way in number of chances created [20]).

Attacking Aerial Duels & Hold Up: In previous articles, the same players (usually the target man up front) led the way in both metrics, but the burden was shared at Sligo. Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe was #1 for successful attacking aerial duels/90 mins (1.91). He was only second for number of duels faced though, with Ronan Coughlan way out in front with 85 aerial duels (1.28 successful duels per 90 mins). Coughlan was also the squad leader by over 4 times the number of successful hold-ups/90 mins (2.61). As the lone striker most of the time, holding up the ball to draw a foul / link up with teammates, this huge disparity from the rest of the team is no surprise. As a sidenote, he drew 44 fouls from opposition defenders, 2.44 per game.

Attacking 1v1 & dribbles: Ronan Coughlan again led the way here, with a very impressive 34 dribbles across the season. This is 15 more than his two nearest rivals, Niall Morahan and Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe. Both players do get their own back however, respectively first and second in att. 1v1 situations; Morahan leading the way with 1.32 successful att. 1v1 situations per 90 mins and a club-high success rate of 75.86%. Junior has 1.22 successful att. 1v1 situations/90, but this didn’t translate in his success rate %s – a disappointing 22.58% success rate.

Summary: Ronan Coughlan, all day. Led the way in dribbles, efforts on goal, goals scored, and successful hold-ups. Excellent all-round performance from a much-improved player since his move to Sligo. Not mentioned in the piece, he also had 52 established touches in the box, 24 more than the next best Sligo player. A huge part in the side establishing a foothold in the opposition box.

Possession Metrics

We tagged 6139 passing attempts for Sligo Rovers (both successful and unsuccessful). With regards to pass direction:

Who stood out, possession-wise? As mentioned in our last article, pass completion doesn’t always give the clearest indication of passing value, due to lack of directional data. Garry Buckley ended with the highest pass completion rate (88.61%) from 395 passes. David Cawley leads the way in successful passes/90 mins (36.95) and for the highest number of successful passes (558), with Niall Morahan just behind with 549 passes.

Again, in our previous article, we mentioned that progressive passes are a far more insightful possession metric; passes towards the opposition goal. Teemu Penninkangas leads this metric with 73.86%% of his passes made towards the opponent’s goal (John Mahon had 87.50% in this metric, but a far smaller dataset to be considered relevant); Penninkangas was not the player with the greatest progressive accuracy, however. Garry Buckley had with a progressive pass completion rate of 83.48%, just ahead of Kyle Callan-McFadden.

Player of the Season: Our data collection is completely objective; no opinion, no punditry and no “should have done better there”.

Ronan Coughlan was a standout figure for Sligo Rovers in an attacking sense, leading the way across all the important attacking metrics. Niall Morahan and David Cawley seemed to be the consistent figures in a defensive and possession capacity – our data doesn’t put separate weight (yet) on the importance and relevance of different sets of performance metrics, so we are not sure who to go with for our Player of the Season.

Sligo fans, it is over to ye!