Where have all the headed goals gone?

Martyn Waghorn

written by – Rangers Report

Remember when a major talking point for both the media & supporters was the fact that Rangers had yet to score a headed goal?  Well, now they have two (!) in thirteen matches.  That’s two whole goals behind the league leaders.

Where have all the headed goals gone?

There have been 174 goals scored in the Scottish Championship this season & of those goals, only 23 have been headers.  That’s 13% of the goals.

Of the 1,363 shots taken only 229 have come from the head.  That’s 17%.

So was the outcry about Rangers not getting headed goals another example of hyperbolic reactions from those who follow & cover the team?

Obviously, Mark Warburton’s desired style of play does not put an emphasis on a strong aerial presence up front & given that Rangers have scored 39 goals this season, which is 14 more than the next team – should it even matter?


Liam Fontaine

Here are the team totals for the season.  Teams are ranked by their Expected Goals total from headed shots.

Team Headed Shots Headed Shots on Target Headed Goals Hd Sh Acc Hd Sh% HdxG GmxG % of total goals
Hibs 27 9 3 0.333 0.333 3.03 -0.03 0.27
Raith Rovers 34 11 4 0.324 0.364 2.79 1.21 0.10
Queen of the South 33 18 3 0.545 0.167 2.25 0.75 0.25
Livingston 23 11 4 0.478 0.364 2.14 1.86 0.31
Dumbarton 20 4 2 0.200 0.500 2.11 -0.11 0.13
Falkirk 25 9 3 0.360 0.333 1.98 1.02 0.12
Morton 21 8 2 0.381 0.250 1.74 0.26 0.09
St Mirren 18 9 0 0.500 0.000 1.20 -1.20 0.00
Rangers 16 8 2 0.500 0.250 1.09 0.91 0.13
Alloa Athetic 12 5 0 0.417 0.000 0.99 -0.99 0.00
Totals 229 92 23 0.402 0.250 19.32 3.68 0.13

Hd Sh Acc is the percentage of headed shots that are on target.  Hd Sh% is the percentage of headed shots on target that are goals.  HdxG is the total Expected Goals off headed shots.  GmxG refers to the difference between headed goals & Expected Goals.  % of total goals is how many of the team’s goals have been headers.

  • Rangers have the second lowest total of headed shots but only two less goals then Raith Rovers & Livingston.  Their shooting percentage is equal to the league average, as is their percentage of goals coming from headers.  The capacity is there for more headed shots & goals but it would mean a change in tactical approach.  Such a change would only be situational given the trade-offs that would result.
  • You may wonder how Hibs have more Expected Goals then teams like Raith & Livingston.  Basically Hibs are more effective at getting their shots closer to goal.  They have eleven Very High Danger headed shots, while Raith & Livi have nine combined. These are shots coming within the vicinity of the goalie’s six yard box.
  • These numbers hone in on a crucial area of improvement for a team like Queen of the South.  They have the second most headed shots in the league & 25% of their goals have come from headers.  But look closer & you see a team that needs to desperately improve on their finishing.  Of those headed shots 55% have been on target (which is the highest accuracy percentage in the league & significantly better then the league average).  However, only 17% of those shots on target have been goals, which is way below the league average of 25%.

Derek Lyle, courtesy of QoSFC

Here are the individual leaders for headed shots.

Player Team Position Minutes Headed Shots Headed Shots on Target Headed Goals Hd Sh Acc Hd Sh% HdxG GmxG % of total goals
Derek Lyle Queen of the South Forward 1168 15 9 2 0.600 0.222 1.11 0.89 0.40
Jon Daly Raith Rovers Forward 900 14 4 1 0.286 0.250 1.25 -0.25 1.00
Liam Fontaine Hibs Defender 826 7 1 1 0.143 1.000 0.92 0.08 1.00
Denny Johnstone Morton Forward 1140 6 2 0 0.333 0.000 0.50 -0.50 0.00
Declan Gallagher Livingston Defender 1170 6 2 1 0.333 0.500 0.64 0.36 1.00
Martyn Waghorn Rangers Forward 1141 5 3 1 0.600 0.333 0.44 0.56 0.07
Andy Dowie Queen of the South Defender 820 5 2 0 0.400 0.000 0.38 -0.38
Kyle Benedictus Raith Rovers Defender 990 5 2 1 0.400 0.500 0.30 0.70 1.00
Steven Thompson St. Mirren Forward 788 4 0 0 0.000 0.000 0.38 -0.38 0.00
Calum Gallagher St. Mirren Forward 959 4 3 0 0.750 0.000 0.24 -0.24 0.00
Garry Fleming Dumbarton Forward 1086 4 1 0 0.250 0.000 0.38 -0.38 0.00
David Gray Hibs Defender 1120 4 2 0 0.500 0.000 0.52 -0.52
Paul Hanlon Hibs Defender 1080 4 1 1 0.250 1.000 0.52 0.48 1.00
Jason Cummings Hibs Forward 1001 4 1 0 0.250 0.000 0.38 -0.38 0.00
Will Vaulks Falkirk Defender 1170 4 1 0 0.250 0.000 0.24 -0.24 0.00
Craig Sibbald Falkirk Forward 1168 4 3 1 0.750 0.333 0.24 0.76 0.50
John Baird Falkirk Forward 1060 4 2 1 0.500 0.500 0.66 0.34 0.13
Lee Miller Falkirk Forward 333 4 2 0 0.500 0.000 0.24 -0.24 0.00
Gary Oliver Queen of the South Forward 526 4 1 0 0.250 0.000 0.24 -0.24 0.00
Lewis Toshney Raith Rovers Defender 1125 4 2 2 0.500 1.000 0.38 1.62 2.00
Craig Sives Livingston Defender 387 4 1 0 0.250 0.000 0.18 -0.18
Jordan White Livingston Forward 572 4 2 1 0.500 0.500 0.52 0.48 0.25
Jordyn Sheerin Livingston Forward 403 4 1 0 0.250 0.000 0.24 -0.24 0.00
  • As you can see the days of the one-dimensional target man are in the past – even at this level of Scottish football.  Derek Lyle & Jon Daly are heads & shoulder over the rest of the field.  However, while 74% of Daly’s shots are headers, only 44% of Lyle’s shots came off the noggin.  Teams are relying on more well rounded players up front.  Of Denny Johnstone’s shots, 20% were headers – for Martyn Waghorn it’s 9% & for Jason Cummings it is 11%.
  • Even 6’4 Jordan White, who has been championed by this site in recent weeks, has displayed a more complete game with 27% of his shots being headers.  He’s an aerial threat but he is also adept at creating other scoring chances within the penalty area.
  • Rangers only have one player, Waghorn, with more than three headed shots.  Rob Kiernan is second on the team with three & only two others have more than one headed shot.
  • Hibs are clearly targeting their defenders on set pieces & it has been effective with two of their three headed goals coming from defenders.
  • It is very interesting to note that after 13 matches only two players have multiple headed goals.

You can follow Rangers Report on Twitter @TheGersReport

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