Four minutes into the second-half David Norris finds the back of the net and as the home crowd at Portman Road celebrate, up in the away end a collection of folk in red and white will have clasped their hands to their heads and thought “here we go again”. This season Doncaster supporters have endured some torrid second forty-five minutes, indeed it seems only Coronation Street fans have had to endure similar levels of doom and gloom after the break. But is this truly the case? And if Championship matches ended after forty-five minutes would it make that much of a difference to the table? Armed with a pen, some paper and a disappointing Saturday evening social-life Viva Rovers investigated.
Doncaster’s loss at Ipswich today reflected a sadly oft-repeated trend for Rovers whereby a half-time lead has become a full-time draw or loss. At the Madejski Stadium 2-1 to Rovers became 4-3 to Reading, whilst leads at Turf Moor and Vicarage Road have also been pegged back by full-time. So to see just how much Rovers’ distracted second periods were costing them I went back through the Championship’s matches thus far, yep all of them, and calculated the league table based on the half-time score alone. The result for a number of teams is quite shocking as you can see in said table below;
We had suspected that if the Championship’s 318 matches thus far ended at the interval then Rovers would be higher than their current 15th place, but not even at our most cynical did we expect them to be as high as third place. Just behind Rovers in the current table are Barnsley, a side with a similar record both at half-time and full-time it would appear as they too would be twelve positions higher. For the two South Yorkshire clubs the thoughts as to what might have been are perhaps eclipsed by Millwall; if the Lions could match their first half endeavours after the break they’d be a point clear at the top of the Championship.
The words “I don’t know what he said to the boys at half-time, but it’s obviously worked” have presumably been muttered by commentators most this season at the fixtures of Norwich City and Nottingham Forest. Norwich would be 15th not 3rd had their matches ended before Delia Smith could offload her pies, whilst the sight of a small red-faced Scotsman in school uniform is clearly providing sufficient motivation for Forest as they’d be just above the relegation places on their opening forty-five minutes alone. If he wants to go for promotion Billy Davies should probably get himself wound-up before matches, or just make his side watch episodes of The Krankies, the subject matter is effectively the same
What the table suggests, is that resilience plays a significant role in how a club’s season pans out. If Preston North End could hold out that little bit longer in matches they would be sitting comfortably in mid-table rather than propping up the division, similarly struggling Middlesbrough would be in the top half of the table rather than looking nervously at the relegation spots.
On Tuesday night Rovers play fellow first-half wonders Barnsley in a South Yorkshire derby and the laws of football dictate that they cannot both throw away first half advantage. Going on this table, it’d be the supporters’ whose team go into half-time behind at the Keepmoat Stadium who would be wise to be the more cheerful.