In a new weekly column Tom Harrow-Smith takes a closer looks at the stats that have had an impact on Reading’s season so far. This week he examines how important the first goal has been in matches under Jaap Stam.
10.25% - The percentage of points Reading have gained from conceding the first goal in league matches under Jaap Stam.
12.96% - The percentage of points Reading have dropped from scoring the first goal in league matches under Jaap Stam.
The 3-1 victory at the Pirelli Stadium on Tuesday night very much went with the status quo from a Royals perspective under Jaap Stam.
“What do you mean? It was our first win in nine games! Stam Out!”
Well, I’m not talking about our current run of form, I’m highlighting the fact that we have yet again won a game after scoring the first goal, which if you dig a bit deeper into Reading’s results under Stam has become something of a trend...
Last season we came from behind to win just twice and draw thrice, but this season our ability to overturn a deficit looks more worrying still, as the Royals have recuperated just three points from losing positions: Brentford (a) 1-1, Hull (h) 1-1 and Bolton (a) 2-2. We have not come from behind to win a game in any competition since 17th April at home to lowly Rotherham.
This season we have the second worst comeback record in the Championship, only lowly Bolton have not managed to pick up a single point from losing positions, and whilst Barnsley and Sunderland like the Royals haven’t won from behind yet, they have accrued four and five points in this manner in comparison to our meagre three. Whilst every Championship team above Reading in the league (17th and higher) has come from behind to win at least once this season.
However, there is a rather curious anomaly with Reading - whilst we are shocking at getting back into games after conceding first, we are surprisingly good at holding on to a lead when we actually go out and score the first goal, even if we are pegged back at one stage. Take Tuesday night for example, we conceded an equaliser but were back in front just six minutes later. If you think about it that happened fairly regularly last season too, I can remember matches last season at home to Cardiff, Wolves, Brentford and Ipswich where we won despite conceding an equaliser at some stage in the game.
Now to get to this conclusion you need to divide points accumulated under Stam into two categories; points gained and points lost. Stam has overseen 75 league matches so far, offering a total of 225 possible points to have been won, of which Reading have taken 117 and missed out on 108. Of the 117 points won by Jaap Stam since his arrival, just 12 of those have come after conceding the game’s first goal, culminating in two wins and six draws.
Let’s flip reverse this and look at the 108 points dropped, just 14 of those have come after scoring the game’s first goal, with two defeats and four draws. Combine both of these and you get the following statistic; in Reading’s 75 matches under Stam, on just 14 occasions has the scorer of the first goal not gone on to win, that’s a percentage of just 18.66%!
Under Stam, it is just Derby away last year and Millwall away this season that we have actually lost after scoring first, this is an unbelievably low amount when you think about it. Furthermore, this shows how we are unbeaten at the Madejski Stadium when scoring first, and on only three occasions have Reading not won, 2-2 to Brighton last season and 1-1 and 2-2 draws with Fulham and Cardiff respectively this time around.
OK, so now this is where it might get a bit complicated but do stick with me, I promise it will make sense in the end...
Now Reading have played 37 home matches under Jaap Stam in the league, winning 19, drawing nine and losing nine. In the matches Reading won, we scored first 18 times, in the matches Reading drew we scored the first goal just three times, and surprise surprise in the matches Reading lost we conceded first EVERY SINGLE TIME.
There have been four 0-0 draws at the Madejski in this time frame, so we’re looking at 33 matches where there has been a goal, and on just one occasion, just ONCE has a team come from behind to win in all Jaap Stam’s games, that’s just 3.03% of the time! And only 18.18% of the time has the team that scored first not gone on to win the match. That is quite a remarkable statistic and I cannot imagine many teams in the Championship can rival that.
What does all this mean though? Well, quite simply in blackest black and whitest white it means that Reading better score first against Millwall this Saturday if they want to record back-to-back wins for just the third time this season. Oh and maybe Stam might consider going into matches with a Plan B in future but I won’t open up that debate here...