This may feel like Groundhog Day all over again but the subject of Bolton Wanderers’ goal-shy strikers is one that simply will not go away... wait, I’ve read that somewhere before...
Nearly two years ago I wrote about the goal-shy efforts of Gary Madine, Jamie Proctor and Keshi Anderson, who had managed just five goals in a combined 47 appearances.
Now, with Bolton having managed just 11 goals in 17 league games this season and scored just twice in 10 games since mid-September, I raise you that the current crop of Josh Magennis, Clayton Donaldson and Christian Doidge could be even worse. The trio have a combined total of 5 goals in 39 appearances this season, and have only one goal between them since mid-September.
But, of course, to lay the blame purely on the shoulders of our forwards is a little simplistic, so we’ll also explore the efforts of our so-called creative players.
To start with, here’s a look at how our three strikers have fared so far this season:
Shots on Target: 12
Last goal: 15th September, at home to QPR
Appearances since last goal: 10
I almost feel apologetic for including Magennis on this list as, much like his predecessor Gary Madine, there’s much more to his game than goals. But, when you’re playing up front and go 10 games without a goal then questions have to be asked.
Magennis started the season in superb goalscoring form, finding the net in his first two games and four times in his first eight. But since then, the goals have dried up and now he can’t even get a game.
However, Magennis’ lack of opportunities to shoot, given our appallingly uncreative midfield, are clearly to blame for this lack of goals. Averaging 1.16 shots per match has to be truly demoralising for any forward.
Shots on Target: 0
Last goal: 20th January 2018, for Sheffield United at Norwich City
Appearances since last goal: 26
That last stat alone is truly laughable. A striker who’s gone 26 matches without scoring, dating all the way back to January.
Shots on Target: 2
Last goal: 20th October 2018, at Rotherham United
Appearances since last goal: 4
It also feels a little unfair to judge Doidge, given he’s only been handed two starts, but the numbers yet again don’t look pretty. In nine appearances, albeit limited to very few minutes, he’s only managed three shots but, unlike Donaldson, has hit the back of the net.
Doidge scored 3 goals in 7 appearances prior to joining Bolton this season, and racked up 25 goals in 49 matches last season and 27 in 43 the previous campaign - both of which included 7-match scoring streaks. So maybe it’s time to just give him a chance to prove himself, rather than blindly persisting with Donaldson who we know is never going to score goals for us?
So in conclusion, is this our worst ever strikeforce? No, I don’t think so. I think there’s potential for goals in both Magennis and Doidge, albeit less so in Donaldson. The more overarching issue is the painful lack of creativity from midfield.
Chances at a premium
In order to score goals our strikers have to be suppled with chances, and the stats tell us the players most prominently tasked with this aren’t delivering the goods. To put this into perspective:
Yanic Wildschut has attempted 13 crosses in 13 appearances, of which just ONE has been successful. He has a passing accuracy of just 56.5% in the opposition’s half, and 29% of his passes have gone backwards, with just 22% going forwards.
Craig Noone has a passing success rate of 51.5%, which falls to just 41.5% in the opposition’s half. Of his 58 crosses this season just 8 have been successful, that’s around one in every seven crosses finding a teammate. And, in his 13 appearances he’s managed 10 shots of which four have been on target.
Will Buckley, while having a decent pass completion rate of 70%, has managed just 10 cross attempts in 12 matches, of which just TWO have been successful. He’s also managed only five shots, of which two have been on target.
Sammy Ameobi, who’s played just six games through injury, also has a good pass completion rate of 74.3%, but has completed just four of his 19 crosses. Of his 11 shots, only three have hit the target.
The one forward thinking player that does appear to have some sort of threat, statistically speaking, is Erhun Oztumer. While he’s yet to score or assist a goal, Oztumer has a passing completion rate of 80.5%, which only drops to 69.6% in the opposition half, and has completed 21 key passes - more than Wildschut (2), Noone (7), Ameobi (5) and Buckley (2) combined. However, like Ameobi, he’s hit the target with just three of his 11 shots.
Looking further back, our central midfield quintet of Jason Lowe (9), Luke Murphy (0), Josh Vela (12), Gary O’Neil (11) and Joe Williams (9) have amassed just 41 key passes in a combined 50 appearances, so there’s little to no creativity from the centre of the park.
These stats show that our so-called creative players are offering next to nothing for our strikers to feed on. It’s very easy to pin the blame on the forwards for a lack of goals, but it’s the guys behind them who ought to be shouldering the blame.