#FM20 Post 5 – Cobh Ramblers – Beating Expectations? – September 2019

From top left clockwise – Ferrycarrig Park Wexford, FAI First Division Trophy, Bishopsgate Longford & FAI Cup (In which we have a quarter final this month)

Welcome to the first post in a good while, Christmas and Illness (Always almost said in the same sentence for me) getting in the way, and as such I’ve needed to get reacquainted with the squad. This month we (As I type its Sep 1st 2019 in game) have 3 league games and a FAI Senior Challenge Cup Quarter Final (of which i see the winner qualifies for the Europa League!!), but due to the calendar I may slip-in another friendly as well.

Before we get going we have the stats for the month of August, my first full month at the club.

Really solid progression on the attribute front – Daire Doherty smashing it, thinking he may start getting a fair bit of game time. Now first-cholice-keeper Adam Mylod also coming on leaps and bounds. I am finding (In FM19 and now) holding Determination levels is tough – you need to specifically get in determined players otherwise it just bleeds away, and personally i think this is one of the most important single attributes in the game.

The stats for what was a good month prove pretty fascinating if you like that sort of thing. Our passing is looking better, still not with regards to volume but completion is on the the up with Dara Mulgannon topping 80%, and David Hurley having >3 KP per game, which is very high indeed.

Cross completion was OK, Ian Turner completing 3 per game, new-boy Ben Hanrahan completing 58% of his headers helping this. Daire Doherty coming in should improve this with his 15 heading.

From an attacking standpoint I hope Cian Leonard’s absence wont hurt too much – 1.2 goals/game, 2 goals from 4 on target shots and 6 attempts is pretty nice. David Hurley creating > 1.5 chances per game is outstanding with his 2 assists, and Eoin Porter at BBM getting 3 assists is also pretty good indeed.

The Interception levels are mad – James McSweeney with over 8 per game, and 3 others over 4!! We do have a few ricks in us though – 3 wingbacks all with over 3 mistakes/90 (Though none for goals) maybe just showing their attacking nature, that I’m looking to nurture.

Lastly Brian Murphy loves an offside, just under 3 per game is a bit much.

I’ve got a decent few datapoints now for xG analysis – still a small dataset only encompassing 16 matches but when looking at keepers it seems we are blessed.

Currently the average goals per shot-on-target in the league is 0.32 (63 goals, 197 shots on target). Adam Mylod is the best in the league at 0.18 (2 goals from 11 shots on target), Wexford have used 2 keepers since I started taking data, both are at 0.5, a goal every 2 shots on target!!!

Bray Wanderers (4-0) was almost expected as their Keeper Gabriel Sava at the time was the worst (Now is at 0.48, 11 goals conceded from 23 SoT), Galway will be tough (Our first league game) with their keeper Kevin Horgan on 0.21 (3 goals 14 SoT). Our other 2 games are Wexford (Worst) and Longford (Lee Steacy, 0.3, 10 from 33) so again having a solid defence and a good keeper wins you matches!!!

Overall expected goals for the league is 0.14 goals per shot. We are at 0.17 (7 from 42), best is Shelbourne at 0.26 (11 from 43), worst is Athlone at 0.096 (3 from 31). Galway is at 0.11, but by far have the most total shots at 71, Wexford 0.10 & Longford 0.18 so the Longford game looks the most difficult, even though Galway are 2nd….Beware the small dataset 🙂

The draw for the Quarter Finals of the FAI Cup (Irish Senior Challenge Cup) has happened:

Galway Away – The second time we play Galway in 6 days as well. There will be 2 non-premier division teams in the semi finals. This does mean we have 3 games in 6 days though, not ideal.

August review done – Not a bad month at all.

Our U19 won 2-1 v Everton (Cork), 20 yo winger James O’Driscoll & 17 yo Winger Paul Caulfield with the goals.

9th Sep 2019 – Cobh Ramblers v Galway Utd (Irish First Division)

Galway Utd ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galway_United_F.C. ) come to St Colman’s Park already having qualified for at least a play-off spot and currently sit in 2nd, are unbeaten in competitive matches since the end of May and look like a very good team from the scout reports. IRL they were relegated from the premier division in 2017, and finished the last 2 seasons in the first division 6th & 7th respectively, 5 points behind Cobh in the 2019 Season. They play a Positive 4-4-1-1 almost exclusively, so we need to see if we can exploit any spaces between the lines that are presented to us, but I’m not expecting too much from this to be honest.

Cian Leonard is back for at least a half, Mihoubi starts on the left as I want him to get as much game time as I can give him. This is the 1st of 3 games in 6 days so I’ll need to rotate a bit but with resting players i may be able to nurse our best 15 through all the games; we have a 12 day break after the Galway QF.

Key Highlights v Galway Utd

FT Cobh Ramblers 2 (Brian Murphy 88 Doherty 90+2) Galway Utd 2 (Barry 2,60) Att 325 (74 Away)

As I mentioned I wasn’t expecting much from today’s game, so going 1-0 down in the 2nd minute wasn’t unexpected, a poor clearance from McSweeney leading to an easy Conor Barry volley tap-in. This is also the first game played IRL since before Christmas, so with updates I’m not 100% sure on the tactics working etc.

Galway were pretty rampant but were were matching them for possession and chances in the main. We went in at the break 1-0 down – Leonard off for Bri Murphy, Nolan on for Mihoubi. Will try and keep it tight until 75 then give it a go.

An end-to-end start to the second, with chances for both teams. Galway were really pressing and harrying, and it was 2-0 just before 60, a 25-yarder from Barry. Swapped to a 3-4-3 to try and get something from the game, and we got a goal back in the 88th, Brian Murphy capitalising on a poor back-pass. And out of nowhere it was 2-2!!! – Daire Doherty with a screamer of a direct free kick in the 92nd minute. Undeserved as Galway had bossed the game. 2-2 it finished, an absolute diamond of a point.

The shot stats were not pretty by full time – though we both only had the 1 clear-cut chance. The match engine felt a lot jerkier to me as well. Another good game for our keeper Adam Mylod as well, some very nice saves. Our right winger Ian Turner has sustained an ankle injury – only out for a few days but wont be playing v Wexford in 3 days as a precaution – the Galway QF game is only 2 days after that as well.

The only team below us playing today was Athlone, and they lost to Shelbourne so we move another point clear of the gaggle at the bottom. 5 games left, Wexford next, and a win will mean we will be 14 points clear of them with just 4 games left – we definitely wont be able to end the season bottom of the table at that point.

Adam Mylod & Daire Doherty make it into the team of the week.

12th Sep 2019 – Wexford v Cobh Ramblers (Irish First Division)

Only 70 hours have passed since our 2-2 v Galway and we make the trip to Ferrycarrig Park to play Wexford – A lovely 108 mile journey east along the N25, passing the stunning Dungarvan and Comeragh mountains on the way.

Wexford FC ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wexford_F.C. ) have finished 2nd bottom in the first division for the past 3 seasons since being releagted from the the premier division (also finishing 2nd bottom there in the 2016 season) so their current position in-game is not surprising.

Same formation, slightly tweaked tactic re. lines. Hanrahan in for Bri Murphy with Leonard on the bench for 2nd half super-subbage. Nolan for Mihoubi, 18 yo Cameron Harlson in for Ian Turner, who may get 30 minutes late on. Otherwise unchanged, with the training rest giving us a pretty well-conditioned side. Wexford also start with a 4-4-2. They’ve lost their last 6 competitive matches so expect a tough one, because FM.

FT Wexford 0 Cobh Ramblers 1 (Leonard 84) Att 194 (28 Away)

Key Highlights v Wexford

We are in our change sky-blue shirts today, and as expected Wexford started well, pinging the ball around like Barcelona. We came back into the game after 20 minutes or so, and had some good chances. 0-0 at HT, Leonard on for Hanrahan, wingers onto attack, wingbacks to fullbacks, a few more tweaks to try and get at Wexford.

The Second half started promisingly, but we are too profligate today. Turner & Mulgannon on for Harlson & Hurley. But we got the breakthrough, a Doherty ball through to leonard who stroked home past the keeper – 84 minutes, 1-0 Cobh. Off course Wexford came back at us, and hit the post in the last minute but we scraped it – 1-0 – and work required to a tactic that has stopped working. Lots of half-chances for both teams today.

So 4 games left, 12 points clear of Wexford, 35 goals better off – I don’t think we will be finishing bottom 🙂 Cabintelly & Bray are in striking distance as well, the difference between 6th & 7th is only £750 in prize money so its no great issue if we don’t close them down though. Tight at the top, just 3 points between Shelbourne & Galway now and they play each other in October.

Our U19 Drew 1-1 with Galway U19, Central defender Jamie O’Sullivan with the goal. This leaves us 7th in the U19 Southern Elite Division.

15th Sep 2019 – Galway Utd v Cobh Ramblers (FAI Cup Quarter Final)

Eamonn Deacy Park, Galway

We make the 141 mile, 2hr 45min trip to Eamonn Deacy Park to play Galway in the Quarter Finals of the Irish FA Cup on a bright Sunday afternoon.

We know they will be a handful, having played them 6 days prior, with their star man Conor Barry playing just behind the striker being the main issue.

As such we will press the press, trying to disrupt them as much as possible and be an attacking influence – if we sit back we get hammered IMO. Mulgannon & Hurley will start as twin Mezzalas, O’Riordan comes in at the back, Porter moves to a preferred AP position in attacking midfield. Should be interesting 🙂 Galway stick with their 4-4-1-1, and they also played on Thursday so I’m hoping the AI didn’t rest their starting 11 – lets see.

FT Galway Utd 2 (Walsh 63 Collins 79) Cobh Ramblers 0 Att 795 (21 Away)

We are again in our away strip, and it was a quite start, though Galway lost Conor Melody to injury early doors. We had lots of possession, and a disallowed offside goal from Daire Doherty, so it was going well. A bit of a stalemate overall, 0-0 at half time. A few tweaks, midfielders move to a BWM/BBM setup from Mezzala;s, Eoin Porter to an AM from an AP, Leonard on for Hanrahan.

Galway came out of the traps quickly in the second half, with an offside goal of their own from a free kick, and Cian Leonard looked dangerous straight away. However Galway took the lead in the 63rd minure, a Walsh header from a corner. Disappointing. Turner & Nolan on for the wingbacks, into Defensive Winger roles on Support. It was 2-0 in the 80th – Collins scoring from a knock down. We had our chances to get back into it but to no avail – 2-0 it finished. Apparently we had 4 clear-cut chances today – we really need a make-over up front.

Limerick also make it through after a 2-1 win v non-league Letterkenny, so there’s the possibility of a First Division side in the final.

Our U19 were in action again, winning 2-0 v Tolka Rovers in a friendly, Brian Murphy & 17yo midfielder Shane O’Flynn with the goals.

27th Sep 2019 – Longford v Cobh Ramblers (First Division)

Bishopsgate, home of Longford Town FC

After 12 days off we travel the 173 miles up the spine of the country to meet 3rd place, play-off contenders Longford Town, in our last game of the month,. again not expecting much. Longford Town ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Longford_Town_F.C. ) came back down to the First Division in 2017 after a couple of years in the Premier Division, finishing 6th in 2015. IRL they finished 3rd in 2019, missing out on promotion after losing to Cabinteely in the play-offs – as such they are a useful team, and my scouts agree to that end (I’m looking forward to ‘refactoring’ my squad somewhat over the close season).

We go with a Cautious press -4-1-4-1 with O’Riordan in at DM, the rest of the team pretty much unchanged. The match engine seems a lot less fluid since I started again after Christmas, so it will be interesting to see what this change of tactic brings.

When I look at the xG stats for the 25 games I’ve captured data for so far Longford have an xG/shot of 0.157 (11 goals from 70 shots) – The League average is 0.143, and we are at 0.164 (10 from 61) so we are both over average. With regards to Keepers the average goal per shot on target iss 0.325 – Longford (Lee Steacy) is at 0.363 – 16 goals conceded from 44 SoT, we (Adam Mylod) is still best by far at 0.166, 4 from 24, so looking at these numbers we should have a good chance.

Looking at form Longford have lost 3 of the last 4 competitive games, letting in 13 goals in the process… I may need to change to a more positive tactic at some point in the game. Longford are going 4-2-4 wide, lets see what transpires.

FT Longford Town 3 (Boyd 38, 79 Byrne 90+2) Cobh Ramblers 3 (O’Riordan 25 Mihoubi 75 Mulgannon 84) Att 750 (17 Away)

Key Highlights v Longford Town

A quiet-ish start, lots of spaces as Longford are pushed right up the pitch. And we took the lead in the 25th minute – A Turner corner nodded down by Evan Murphy into O’Riordan’s path at the back post. 1-0 Cobh. It was pretty comfortable until a ball over was picked by Boyd, who fired into the roof of the net from just inside the box. 39th Minute, 1-1. That was the score at HT. 55% possession, 11 shots but only 3 on target (Since I’ve started again after Christmas this stat has been really poor, and i’ve seen the same in other games when capturing xG data). A few tweaks to lines, Leonard to Defend to try and get involved, CM’s change duties as well.

Longford came out looking a lot more dangerous in the second half. Nolan picked up a bruised thigh, Mihoubi on. And Mihoubi made a pretty instant impression, nodding down an O’Riordan cross, then receiving the knock-back from Porter to make it 2-1 Cobh in the 75th minute. Mulgannon on for Porter, who was on a yellow, Doherty on for Leonard. Can we see it out? Emphatically no, a free-kick finiding Boyd unmarked, who tapped in. 2-2. Mihoubi does look a handful though. And it was 3-2 Cobh in the 83rd, a lovely break letting Mulgannon get free, and he finished really well. Can we hold-out this time? Can we F**k! 3-3 in the 92nd, a break & low cross finished by Byrne. Absolute joke of a game. 3-3 it finished and we led 3 times. A good point but we should have won that one. Steven Nolan out for 6-9 days, no competitive game for 2 weeks (4th placed Drogheda) so no problem.

That point means we can finish no lower than 8th we 3 games left – Limeric & Athlone both losing, with Wexford coming off bottom spot. Both Shelbourne & Galway won, meaning the next league game on 11th October is most probably a title decider if Shelbourne beat Galway.

Task complete – We can no longer finish bottom of the league 🙂

When I was compiling the xG data I got the feeling that there were so many more missed shots than I could remember from before Christmas, so I decided to run the numbers.

So Shots on target only dropped by 2.4%, and Missed Shots rose by 4%, but not as much as I though, its good to analyse this if you think something is up with the game after an update. It definitely seems to be playing differently, but these limited stats show its not by much if at all.

Our U19 had another game, a 1-1 draw with UCD U19 in the league, 18 yo poacher Connor Farrelly with the goal.

Lastly Dara Mulgannon made team of the week after his goal. Daire Doherty placed 3rd in goal of the month for his free kick v Galway to make it 2-2.

That’s it for September 2019. We have 3 league games left, nothing much to play for apart from maybe 1 position, but being 7 points behind 6th and 8 points clear of 8th sort of precludes that. We will have a quick look at the stats for September and where we hope to strengthen in the off-season (November to Mid-February, so a longish one). See you then.

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