Today we make a 97 mile journey South-West to Dumfries to face Queen of The South of the Championship (IRL also in the Chamiponship in 19/20 – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Queen_of_the_South_F.C. ) in a match where we could potentially qualify out of the group for the Second Round on the 15th August – at that point you are 3 wins from the final 🙂 I can but dream. QotS have a decent squad and should beat us, but with normal time draws v Livingston & Airdrie and a routine win v Edinburgh City, all higher division opponents, I give us a good chance.
As mentioned last time only four 2nd placed teams go through, and we aren’t in that list so we need a normal time win I think, though mathematically anything is possible.
Before the game we have a few things to look at.
Cameron McGinn (19, 5ft 9) comes in on a free after being released from Ross County. He’s a natural pressing forward which is useful in the gegenpress, and with really nice physicals and a few good mentals for his age I’m hoping to get him in and see him progress this year, though I doubt he’ll get much game time.
Last time I mentioned our xG for the game v Edinburgh City and overall, and I though I’d have a bit of a deeper dive, on how I’m doing it and what I’ll be using it for.
I’ve captured the data like FMTahiti from the Analysis portion of the match report, but I use the Players tab. A reminder of the zones below also:
Above are Kieran McGrath’s 2 goals v Edinburgh City, One from Zone 2 (Outside the posts, inside the 6-yard box) and Zone 3 (Inside the Posts, between the 6 and 18 yard lines). I do this for all the options on here that have a number (So Dean Cornelius and his 2 missed shots, Tom Sutherland, Liam Watt and Lewis Allan and their missed shot etc.). When collated into a list it looks like this:
I’m not taking into account headers or penalties – For headers I’d need to watch every shot highlight, and for penalties I don’t think we’re that far off the norm for Zone 3 TBH 🙂 🙂 🙂 Each shot has a unique ID and relates to a game_id that relates to a fixture list I’ve collated of all competitive matches I’ve had in this save (84 as of yesterdays post). This means i can then slice and dice by competition, season, team (Civil Service or Berwick Rangers) or even player to see what xG values pop out.
Now I nerd-out and whack it into a relational database so I can start doing all the analysis. One thing i’ve done is a xG by match by club.
As you can see at the bottom xG for the Edinburgh game for the shots we had based on the overall data for Berwick was 1.64, so with 2 goals we outperformed this by 0.36 – A good game, good result, slightly more clinical than normal. You can use this to really see if you’ve been stiffed by the opposing keeper/defenders or not (Cowdenbeath, 5th from bottom in the above list, xG of 2.25, no goals scored, 12 shots on target…….)
At a player level there’s just not enough data yet – We only have 6 players with over 50 shots (All Civil Service) so we get some freaky xG – Regan Lumsden scores a 0.49 with his 13 goals from 71 shots as they were all in 2 sectors (8 from 28 in Zone 3, 5 from 25 in Zone 5 (Outside the posts, 6 to 18 yards out), Paul Cairney scores 1.70 as he scored 1 in 1 from Zone 1 (Inside the posts within 6 yards) and 1 in 2 from Zone 3 From zone 6 though he has the outstanding record of 2 from 59 (0.03) 🙂
The interesting thing to me at the player level is the return – James Hainey tops the charts with a goal every 4.8 shots (Players > 50 shots) – maybe a reason by Buckie Thistle bought him from Civil Service after I left. Conor McLaughlin is my sharp-shooter for Berwick (Players > 20 shots) – A goal every 4.6 shots, 5 in 23. We really must stop Tom Sutherland shooting though – 2 goals out of 38 shots, 30 of these from Zone 6 (Where the 2 goals actually came from, which is actually slightly above average). This is what I’ll be using the player data for, not xG but an returns analysis.
So to today’s final Betfred Group game v QotS. I’m in a bit of a quandary about what formation to use, but for defensive stability I’m going Control – 5-2-1-2 WB
Big Rod, Harry Nicolson and Yusuf Hussain make up a more-than-capable back 3, Watt & Morrison as the wingbacks (I lack a quality left wingback by Watt does similar as a Wide Midfielder), Barr and Cornelius in centre mid, Sutherland as an AM (Shoot Less Often!), with McGrath & Allan up top. We start Balanced, hopefully keeping the game nice and calm. QotS go 4-4-2.
HT Queen of the South 1 (Stewart pen 13) Berwick 1 (McGrath pen 45+1)
Berwick playing in white today, which must be our 3rd strip. A decent enough start, good possession, and then out of nowhere a penalty to QotS for pushing – Ross Stewart finishing, though the keeper should have done better (one of those penalties in FM19). 1-0 QotS. Harry Nicolson unfortunately was the perp, pushing Todd. We are looking really good going forward until the finish, Allan missing a point blank header. Again their keeper keeping it level with some fine stops, with lots of balls coming in from our wingbacks.
And then QotS returned the favour just before half time; Allen fouled by Kirkpatrick in the box, McGrath finishing the penalty well. 1-1, and that’s how the half finished.
Stats-wise we are just about on top, so well worth the draw at the moment. Changing crosses to float, Watt to IWB, Morrison to Wingback on attack rather than automatic. As it stands we are 3rd in the group, (Livingston beating Airdrie 1-0) but another goal puts us top on goal difference (I think :))
FT Queen of the South 1 (Stewart pen 13) Berwick 3 (McGrath pen 45+1, Sutherland 57,83) Att 981 (94 Away)
A quiet start to the half, but the breakthrough came after an end to end tussle. A Berwick attack was quickly turned around and QotS flooded forward, only for their final cross to be caught by Allison. he then pumped the ball forward quickly, a poor defensive header allowed Allan to intercept, and a few passes (Barr to Morrison to McGrath) later the ball found Sutherland by the penalty spot, and he finished beautifully to make it 2-1 Berwick.
We just went Positive before the goal – back to Balanced. Archie Gardiner on against his old club for Cornelius, who had a quiet game. We are 2nd as it stands (Livingston above us on having beaten us on penalties) but we are in the top 4 best 2nd placed teams (3rd best at the moment). Meechan on for Morrison, more defensive. McNiff on for Watt as a support wingback, again, less attacking. 75 gone, as it stands we are through, joint 3rd best 2nd place team – Squeaky Bum Time (Trying to remind myself its just the Betfred but getting through means at least £10k more prize monies). QotS look shattered.
And guess who scores from Zone 6 – Tom bloody Sutherland 🙂 A thunder-bastard volley from 20 yards. 83 gone, 3-1. 3rd best 2nd place team as it stands (I really hope I’m reading the rules right). Regardless its been a magnificent performance. And it finishes 3-1, what a performance, really chuffed!
And we’ve qualified!!! An it’s suddenly become a very profitable pre-season.
Now I expect that if we were to lose in the 2nd Round we’d not get another £35k (Unless there is a bug) but the difference between this and £35k (£8.26k) but regardless our finances are now looking pretty healthy, £74k in the black!!
Next time its our first league game, at Home to Stirling – Our first of an August that currently has 8 competitive matches in it so we will do the attribute and stat analysis for July, as well as bringing you the 2nd Round draw of the Betfred Cup. See you then.