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A Brief Examination of Bolton’s Record in One-Goal Games

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Bolton have performed poorly in all types of matches this season, but the club's record in games decided by a single goal has been especially League One worthy.

Scott Heavey

Soccer is a relatively low scoring game. As such, scores between teams tend to be close a majority of the time. So, a team’s performance in games decided by one-goal goes a long way towards determining whether a team is having a fantastic, mediocre, or terrible season.

So far in the 2013/14, 40.16% of all matches have been decided by a single goal. When draws are removed, 58.23% of matches were decided by a single goal. Over the course of an entire season this works out to being approximately 55 points up for grabs for a team in one-goal games.

Now, obviously no team is going to have a perfect record in one-goal games, but still 55 points represents about 75% of the point total that a team would need to have a good chance at a playoff place.

Below is a chart that shows the performance of all Championship teams in one-goal games through Saturday’s matches, as well as the net points gained or lost to competitors in one-goal games.

Team Games Wins Losses Win% Net Points
Barnsley 12 3 9 25.00% -18
Birmingham City 12 2 10 16.67% -24
Blackburn Rovers 12 7 5 58.33% 6
Blackpool 10 6 4 60.00% 6
Bolton Wanderers 11 3 8 27.27% -15
Bournemouth 12 7 5 58.33% 6
Brighton & Hove Albion 12 7 5 58.33% 6
Burnley 11 9 2 81.82% 21
Charlton Athletic 13 4 9 30.77% -15
Derby County 12 8 4 66.67% 12
Doncaster Rovers 9 4 5 44.44% -3
Huddersfield Town 19 9 10 47.37% -3
Ipswich Town 11 5 6 45.45% -3
Leeds United 15 6 9 40.00% -9
Leicester City 17 14 3 82.35% 33
Middlesbrough 11 4 7 36.36% -9
Millwall 8 4 4 50.00% 0
Nottingham Forest 9 6 3 66.67% 9
QPR 14 11 3 78.57% 24
Reading 12 7 5 58.33% 6
Sheffield Wednesday 9 3 6 33.33% -9
Watford 12 6 6 50.00% 0
Wigan Athletic 14 8 6 57.14% 6
Yeovil Town 13 2 11 15.38% -27


Bolton have been involved in 11 one-goal games this season, this puts them towards the bottom of the league (T-16) in terms of one-goal games.

This represents 35.48% of all of Bolton’s matches and 57.89% of all of Bolton’s matches that were not draws. These numbers are pretty close to the league-wide average for this season. So, nothing seems too out of line there.

Where Bolton’s poor performance this season is painfully apparent is once you start looking at their record in one-goal matches (this also points towards the Wanderers’ defensive fragility).

Bolton Wanderers are tied for the third fewest wins and fourth lowest win percentage in games decided by a single goal. This has lead to Bolton being tied for 4th worst net point total (-15 points) in one-goal games.

What this means is that Bolton would need to be +15 points in all other matches not ending in a draw just to end up middle of the table. Obviously, with Bolton sitting in 19th place at the moment, they have not done this. By comparison, league leaders Leicester, have earned a stagger +33 net points in one-goal games.

While there are many reasons for Bolton’s low spot in the Championship League Table, the club’s performance in one-goal matches is one reason they are sitting closer to the Relegation Zone than mid-table.