Football: A game of 90 minutes?

PUBLISHED: 15:51 23 October 2009 | UPDATED: 16:38 10 September 2010

As a Statistician by trade an interesting football statistic that I discovered by chance in a discarded magazine on a train last weekend got me thinking.

By Matt Juler

As a Statistician by trade an interesting football statistic that I discovered by chance in a discarded magazine on a train last weekend got me thinking. Apparently, and I've got to trust the highbrow magazine (Zoo) on this as I really don't have the time or inclination to repeat the analysis, Manchester United at Old Trafford are “offered” over one minute extra added time when they are losing or drawing compared to when they are winning. Whether or not they find the time to score is a different matter, but the number of goals scored during second half added time seems to have never been higher, and few will be as cruel as Beckford's at Leeds on Monday night.

In the thirteen league matches so far this season involving Norwich City, six games have concluded with a goal in added time. At Brentford it was too little too late, Tudor-Jones' strike just reduced the deficit and despite a late rally City left Griffin Park with zero points. The late goals during the comfortable wins over Leyton Orient and Bristol Rovers also had no effect on the outcome, but would have done Jamie Cureton's confidence the world of good and certainly helped to boast the goal difference after the opening day disaster.

City's current winning momentum, hopefully only stalled by Leeds, has I believe as much to do with the second half performance against Charlton at Carrow Road than anything else. Having battered Charlton throughout the second half, Grant Holt's late equaliser in the third minute of added time seemed to lift the squad and provide the boost in confidence that was needed across the team. If Charlton had held on to win, not only would it have been one less point for City, two more for promotion rivals Charlton, but the second half performance would have counted for little and City would have travelled to Kent on the back of a home defeat.

However, at Gillingham a week later, down to ten men and trailing entering stoppage time, City never gave in. Holt's looping header was allowed to drop on to the crossbar by the Gills keeper and Russell was in the right place at the right time to score the equaliser a good seven minutes into added time. The Leeds game aside, all goals scored during added time have been for City, and whilst the net points gained stands at just one, the late goals scored breed confidence and City will fight to the end knowing that as long as there are seconds left on the clock, there is always time to score.

The opposite can also be true. Like Norwich City, Ipswich Town have also played 13 league games so far this season. Of these, four matches have included goals during second half added time. Against Middlesbrough the Tractor Boys scored a late consolation from the penalty spot, but at Sheffield United they let a two goal lead slip with an added time equaliser in the ninety second minute. Things didn't improve a week later at Barnsley, a decent away point was turned into a defeat when Macken fired in the winner in the sixth added minute. And on Tuesday night at home to Malky Mackay's Watford as the game entered the last minute of stoppage time the paltry crowd of 19,283 at Portman Road must have all thought that Ipswich would finally end their winless start to the season, but up popped Ellington and Town continue to write unwanted history.

The Middlesbrough match aside, all goals scored during added time have been against the Tractor Boys and the net points lost stands at five. The late goals conceded breed nerves and whilst Town will attempt to hold on until the end, they know that as long as there are seconds left on the clock, there is always time to concede.

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