Another season of ups and downs for Waterford FC. Three different managers, missing out on Europe on the final night.

On the plus side, there were some shining lights to come from the season – the emergence of players such as Niall O’Keeffe, Tunmise Sobowale and Shane Griffin that will give fans hope for the footballing future of the club. Added to this, the return to the club (and their hometown) for Daryl Murphy and Brian Murphy.

In this article, we will take a deep dive into the performance data output across the Waterford FC 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. A statistical breakdown of the performances of Tadhg Ryan and Brian Murphy are not available at this point. Brian Murphy was a rock at the back; the sheer volume of his communication was a standout feature of the 2020 season. A very calm presence at the back, hugely experienced and some world-class saves over the course of the season to keep Waterford FC in the hunt for Europe. Tadhg Ryan had a difficult spell coming in after Murphy’s injury, with the team going through a spell of conceding late, important goals. His confidence took a bit of a hiding as the games went on, but he is a solid goalkeeper who is capable of being #1 at most clubs next season.

Defensive metrics

8 clean sheets from 18 games, conceding 22 goals in the remaining 10 games (the 6-1 defeat against Rovers did not help this total). There were several changes of personnel and formation at the back over the season, with 13 different players having a spell at the back at some stage of the season.

Def 1v1: In the St. Pat’s article, we defined what we tagged as a defensive 1v1. In this metric, Matty Smith led from the front, with the highest number of successful def. 1v1s and the highest total of 1v1 situations. Darragh Power was first for successful def. 1v1 situations per 90 mins (6.14). In addition, Shane Griffin ended the season with the highest def. 1v1 success rate (67.31%).

Tackles: Darragh Power once again stood out here in successful tackles/90 mins, ending the season with 1.54 successful tackles/90 mins; a tackle being any sliding challenge made to dispossess an opponent. It was Tyreke Wilson, however, who had the highest number of tackle attempts (16), Tunmise Sobowale with the highest amount of successful tackles (12) and the highest tackle success rate (80.00%).

Def Aerial duels: Akin Odimayo leads the way here, despite not playing for the cub since March. 2.75 successful aerial duels/90 and an impressive 78.57% overall success rate also. Robbie McCourt was involved in the highest number of aerial duels (66), winning the most also (32).

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. Jake Davidson was #1 in this metric with an 87.10% progressive regain rate, with Tunmise Sobowale in second place with 87.10% progressive regain rate.

Attacking Metrics

Goal Scoring: Waterford FC scored just 17 goals this season, from 166 efforts on goal. Based on shot location only, their total season xG was 20.38 goals. Not too bad an under-performance. John Martin led the goalscorers with 4 goals in just 685 mins of play (just under 0.55 goals per 90 mins). Ali Coote had the highest number of efforts on goal (32), with Matty Smith highest in the efficiency %s (43.48% of his efforts on goal were on target).

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. Will Fitzgerald stood out for chances created/90 (169). Tyreke Wilson created the highest number of chances (18).

Attacking Aerial Duels & Hold Up: Michael O’Connor stood out here, leading both metrics. 3.21 att. aerial successes/90 rate and 3.01 successful hold-ups per 90. Kevin O’Connor interestingly came in 2nd for att. aerial success/90 with 2.05 successes per 90; Kurtis Byrne unsurprisingly in 2nd for successful hold-ups per 90 (2.10).

Attacking 1v1 & dribbles: When in possession, beating the defender in front of him, Tunmise Sobowale was well ahead of the rest. He had the highest number of overall att. 1v1 situations (59), the most successful att. 1v1 situations (49) and the highest success/90 mins (4.57). Ali Coote led the way in the dribbles metric though, with 49 dribbles completed over the course of the season.

Possession Metrics

Just over 4777 passing attempts were tagged for Waterford FC this season (both successful and unsuccessful). With regards to pass direction:

Who stood out, possession-wise? As mentioned in our last article, pass completion doesn’t give the full picture, due to lack of directional data. Tunmise Sobowale ended with the highest pass completion rate (83.38%) from 343 passes, just ahead of Ali Coote with 83.18% completion rate. Robbie Weir ended the season with the highest successful passes/90 mins (29.57). Robbie McCourt ended the season with the highest number of pass attempts (626).

Again, in our previous articles, we mentioned that progressive passes are a far more insightful possession metric; passes towards the opposition goal. Sam Bone leads this metric with 78.08% of his passes made towards the opponent’s goal; he was not the player with the greatest progressive accuracy, however – Ali Coote, with a progressive pass completion rate of 72.92%.

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

We think that this is another case where the reader will have to decide for themselves who jumps out from our data output. Tunmise Sobowale had consistent numbers across defensive, possession and some attacking metrics, whereas Ali Coote looked to stand out in many possession and attacking metrics. Tyreke Wilson and Brian Murphy stood out for the fans for a variety of reasons too, but we will let the fans decide from the data on this one!