Statistical performance review of Shamrock Rovers’ start to the season

Roberto Lopes of Shamrock Rovers and Noah Lewis of St Patrick's Athletic after the full time whistle last Friday

Roberto Lopes of Shamrock Rovers and Noah Lewis of St Patrick's Athletic after the full time whistle last Friday Credit: Peter Fitzpatrick (ETPhotos)

When Stephen Bradley spoke recently about his club’s start to the season he insisted he was happy with how his Hoops side was performing. “I really like where we are performance wise,” Bradley told

That was prior to Friday night’s 2-2 draw with St. Patrick’s Athletic in Tallaght when their winless start to their league campaign continued.

While their 2021 title success was aided by large numbers of late goals, this season from their opening six games, they have given up a match winning positions in the 89th minute or later to draw three of the games.

Worst start in two decades

With one sixth of the campaign complete, the Hoops have five draws and one defeat. It is their worst start to the league since the four points they earned at this stage of the 2002/03 season.

In 2005 they also had five points at this juncture. They won one and drew two of their opening six games and were relegated at the end of the campaign (with an eight point deduction playing a major part).

A reason for optimism for Rovers fans is that are only a point behind the mark they had after six games in 2010 in a season when they went on to win the league thanks to a better goal difference of two from Bohemians.

The Hoops currently sit in eighth place, seven points behind last year’s runners up Derry City and a further two behind league leaders Bohemians (who have won five out of their opening six matches).

After the international break, the Hoops have back-to-back away games – first in Oriel Park and then a Dublin Derby in Dalymount Park.

Speaking to the after Friday’s game, Bradley said “the small margins are going against us. You can correct me, but I thought we should have won the game quite comfortably.”

So putting opinions aside what do the statistics currently tell us about Rovers performances? The answers reviewing Wyscout’s database certainly suggest that the Hoops shouldn’t be sitting in eighth place, only out of the relegation play-off position thanks to goal difference.

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Looking at last Friday first, the expected goals (xG) read Rovers 2.23 to Pats 1.21, with the shot count(on target) as 22(7) to 8(4).

Rovers had more of the ball (59% possession). They were 81% successful from their 454 passes compared with the Athletics’ 69% off 319 passes.

Season xG and possession

Looking across the season so far, Rovers’ goals versus expected goals (both scored and conceded) would reflect that results haven’t matched performances on the pitch.

The Hoops have scored nine times (leaving them fifth in the goalscoring table led by Bohs and Cork City on 11) but their expected goals from the chances they created over the six games is 11.9 (the best xG of any team) showing they are creating plenty of good goal scoring opportunities.

Meanwhile they have let in ten goals while their expected goals conceded is only 6.9.

Rovers have had more possession of the ball on average than any team in the league. Their 58% possession rate is above Bohemians (56%) and Derry City (55%).

Attacking performance

The attacking stats have Rovers as the top team across a range of categories - shots, crosses, touches in the box, progressive runs (ones that attempt to draw the team significantly closer to the opponent goal), deep completions (a pass that is targeted to the zone within 20m of the opponent’s goal), 1-v-1 and dribbles, and second in corner count (behind Drogheda United).


In the passing categories, the Hoops are best of all the teams in the league across overall passes, key passes (one that creates a clear goalscoring opportunity), smart passes (one creating a significant attacking advantage) and progressive passes (one advancing team significantly closer to the opponents goal).

They are second on through passes (one into the space behind the defensive line for a teammate to contest) with Sligo Rovers best and third behind the Bit O’ Red and St Pats in passes to the final third.


The red cards and subsequent suspensions to Pico Lopes (3), Lee Grace (1) and Dan Cleary (1) have certainly factored into the poor results in the opening period of the season.

Rovers have the worst disciplinary record in the league with three red cards and 19 yellow cards with St. Patrick’s Athletic on two reds and 21 yellow cards.