Defensive Zone Exits: Kiernan & Wilson partnership is quietly effecient

Danny Wilson, courtesy of RFC

written by – Rangers Report

With so much attention being focused on Rangers’ struggles on defence, particularly with how they handle counter attacks, I decided to shift some of my attention towards tracking who is getting the ball out of the defensive third & how they are doing it.  Much of this work is inspired by Jen Lute Costella’s tracking similar concepts in hockey for her blog & now for her start-up company – LCG Analytics.

Given the camera angles at Dumbarton’s stadium & some intriguing directorial decisions by the Rangers TV crew there will be a margin of error but this is what I was looking for –

  • controlled exits from the defensive third – when a player either dribbled the ball out of the zone or when they completed a relatively short pass out of the defensive third
  • clearances – the opposite of a controlled exit.  Basically, the defender kicks/heads the ball out of the zone with no real passing target.  I think it is safe to say that we all know a clearance when we see it. Additionally, I tracked how many of the clearances were headers.
  • pressured v unpressured exit- was the player under pressure from an opposing player when they made the defensive zone exit or clearance
  • flipping possession to the other half – regardless of how the ball left the area, did it lead to Rangers establishing possession in the opposing half of the pitch?  Ideally, Rangers defenders are able to trigger a counter of their own in order to attack an unorganized defence.
  • Only defensive zone exits in the run of play are accounted for…meaning when Wes Foderingham triggers the team bringing the ball up the  pitch – those plays were not tracked nor was the play tracked if Rangers voluntarily played the ball back into the defensive third.  So basically, plays were tracked only when the opponent gets the ball into their attacking third & a Rangers defender retrieved it to get it out of the zone.
Player Controlled Exits Pressured Opp Half Clearance Pressured Opp Half Headed Cl Total Exits
Rob Kiernan 2 1 1 3 3 2 1 5
Danny Wilson 2 1 2 2 2 0 1 4
James Tavernier 2 1 1 1 1 0 0 3
Andy Halliday 2 1 2 0 0 0 0 2
Dean Shiels 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 1
Totals 9 4 7 6 6 2 2 15
First Half 4 3 2 4 4 2 1 8
Second Half 5 1 5 2 2 0 1 7
  • Again, the margin of error is heightened by the weather conditions on Saturday.
  • For the second straight week, Rangers’ defence had very little to do.  If you combine their Defensive Exits from the past two weeks they basically equal the amount from the match against Dumbarton two weeks ago.
  • The center back tandem of Rob Kiernan & Danny Wilson combined for 60% of the exits from the defensive third.  Even though they were pressured on 78% of their exits, Rangers were able to turn their Defensive Zone Exits into possession in Livingston’s half 56% of the time.
  • Again, Lee Wallace had very little to do on defence – not registering a single zone exit on Saturday.
  • Andy Halliday had to bring the ball out of the defensive third on a couple of occasions & each time it turned into possession for Rangers in the offensive half.
  • Rangers turned Defensive Zone Exits into possession in Livi’s half 60% of the time — 78% of the time on Controlled Exits & 33% of the time on clearances.

You can follow Rangers Report on Twitter @TheGersReport

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