We’ve been taking a wander through the statistical minefield over the past few weeks, and it has proved that you can tell almost any story if you have the right numbers! On this occasion we’re going to look at our Pitching In Isthmian defences, and decide which of them are as watertight as the portholes on a cruise liner.
We were going to begin simply by giving you a list of the sides who have conceded the fewest goals, and then we noticed that a number of them have also played the fewest games, so assumed that you would nod wisely and say “well, I’m not at all surprised.” Other suitable exclamations are available.
On that basis, we thought we’d go with goals conceded per league match, and see whether there were any interesting stories to unveil. We’re only going to go with a top ten- although as you’ll see that will contain eighteen clubs- as we’ve decided to focus only on clubs who have conceded no more than one goal per game.
We’re starting our countdown in Step Four. Bury Town have conceded fewer league goals than everyone else, and supporters of the Ram Meadow side will be delighted that they’ve had to groan with annoyance only twice this season- yet they don’t have the best defence. That honour goes to our Pitching In South East Division leaders, Hastings United, and the side in fourth place in the Pitching In Isthmian South Central, Tooting & Mitcham United.
The two United’s have each conceded only three goals in seven matches, an average of 0.43 goals conceded per game. The Terrors conceded two of their three goals in their very first match, against Hertford Town, and have delivered five clean sheets in their last six games; whilst the Sussex seaside side have four clean sheets from seven and have won each match in which they’ve conceded one goal- that’s three of them, in case you’re counting.
Bury Town, with half a goal conceded every match, come next (and yes, we know you can’t concede half a goal, even with help from VAR), but they aren’t alone. Stand up and take a bow Faversham Town, who are unrecognisable from last season with only three goals conceded from their six matches. Three clean sheets and no defeats equals some proud Lilywhites.
Maldon & Tiptree come next, with three goals conceded but having only played five matches, and they are followed by another Pitching In Isthmian North Division side, as Cambridge City have also conceded only three goals- albeit having played a match fewer than the Jammers.
We then come to our first Pitching In Isthmian Premier Division side, as Bishop’s Stortford hove into view. The Blues have conceded only five goals from their six matches, and had they not conceded two in their opening day draw against Bognor Regis Town would be even further up this table. You could say very much the same about the Rocks, who are just behind the Blue. They conceded four goals in their first two matches, before following that by conceding only two from their next four.
We’re back in the Pitching In Isthmian South East Division next, as up come VCD Athletic. Vickers have conceded only seven goals in their first eight games, which is perhaps why they are second in their division- although rather bizarrely they’ve conceded eight in just two knockout matches so perhaps they have a league team and a cup team, rather like all the Premier League sides when the FA Cup Third Round comes along.
Finally, we’ve nine teams sharing tenth place, after conceding one goal a game on average. From the Pitching In Isthmian Premier we have Bowers & Pitsea, who have been defeated only once- by Worthing- yet have only one clean sheet, and then from the Pitching In Isthmian North we have five sides, Grays Athletic, Coggeshall Town, Soham Town Rangers, Dereham Town and Canvey Island. Athletic would be much further up this table if we could discount their four-nil hammering at the hands of Canvey, as their defence has been breached only twice in the other five matches; whilst the Seed Growers have conceded two goals on two occasions, and only two goals in total from the other four. Only Cambridge City and Tilbury have breached the Soham Town Rangers backline more than once, as they’ve conceded seven in seven.
Dereham Town have conceded seven goals from their seven matches, five of them in the first two but only two from the subsequent five; whilst the Gulls have been preoccupied with their cup exploits- but three of the five goals they’ve conceded came in one match. They didn’t lose it, by the way, despite Basildon United scoring three they managed three of their own.
Into the South Central, and Bracknell Town have also conceded an average of one goal per game. The Robins have four wins and a draw from five matches, but have twice conceded two goals- first in a draw with Uxbridge and more recently in victory over FC Romania, although they got four of their own in that one. Staying in the same division we have another side who look much changed from last season, Ashford Town, who have conceded only eight goals from their eight matches- and if they could expunge the three they conceded against Chertsey Town and the two that they let in against Tooting that would only be three conceded in five!
Finally, we’re back in the South East Division. East Grinstead Town have flown out of the starting blocks like a swarm of over-enthusiastic wasps, letting in a goal a game whilst scoring rather a lot more. If Whitstable Town hadn’t managed to score two, they’d be higher up the table, too.
Here's the table, based on average goals conceded per match (League only)
1. Hastings United 0.43
Tooting & Mitcham Utd 0.43
3. Bury Town 0.5
Faversham Town 0.5
5. Maldon & Tiptree 0.6
6. Cambridge City 0.75
7. Bishop’s Stortford 0.83
8. Bognor Regis Town 0.85
9. VCD Athletic 0.875
10: Bowers and Pitsea 1
Grays Athletic 1
Coggeshall Town 1
Soham Town Rangers 1
Dereham Town 1
Canvey Island 1
Bracknell Town 1
Ashford Town 1
East Grinstead Town 1