In the first of a three-part series, we dive into the world of A-League football stats; unearthing some statistical gems that reflect both the Phoenix’s overall performance this past campaign – despite a tough season filled with challenges - and the general craziness that was the 2020/21 A-League season.
In this first article, we look at several unbeaten streaks set by the Phoenix last season; we explore the value of David Ball as a goal scorer – and how vital his goals can be for a Phoenix victory. And we also look at how Wellington morphed into 'road warriors' for its away matches, setting several Club records along the way.
With a 3-0 victory against Macarthur FC in their final regular-season match of the season, The Phoenix set a new Club record for consecutive matches unbeaten with 11 (6W, 5D) – besting their nine-match run in the 2019/20 season.
While the Phoenix can further extend their unbeaten record next season, they’ll have a long way to go to beat the A-League’s all-time unbeaten record; 36 games without a loss, set by Brisbane Roar from Sep 2010 to Nov 2011.
Another unbeaten record was extended last season too; Wellington’s 2-2 draw against Perth Glory on 30 May bought the Club’s all-time unbeaten streak at Auckland’s Eden Park to eight matches (4W, 4D). This record dates all the way back to the 2011/12 A-League season, when the Nix drew 1-1 with Adelaide United in their maiden match at Eden Park.
And the Phoenix squad was also unbeaten in its blue away kit last season; with two wins and two draws earned from four away matches played in the popular aqua-coloured strip.
Perhaps a good reason for the Nix to retain the blue look for its away kit next season?
The Value of Ball:
It's been mentioned in he past that when David Ball scores a goal, the Phoenix doesn’t lose – but delving into these numbers reveals just how dominant the Nix are when Bally gets on the scoreboard, and the key role he plays in the Club’s on-field success.
Since joining the Phoenix in the 2019/20 season, Bally has registered 12 goals for the Club over two seasons, with Wellington going undefeated in those matches - including an eye-popping 11 wins and one draw.
And it’s not just how many goals that Ball scores, it’s also when he scores them which has an influence on the outcome. This season Bally scored all six of his goals in the first half of play across six matches (5W, 1D); the Nix registering an impressive +12 goal differential (15 goals for versus three goals against) across those games.
As a team the Phoenix scored the first goal in 14 of its 26 matches last season - generating seven wins, six draws and a single loss over these games. Ball factored heavily into this, with the forward being the first goal scorer (from either team) in four of those 14 matches; the Club - of course - unbeaten in those matches.
It’s these metrics that help to show just some of Bally’s value to this Nix squad going forward.
Although the Phoenix were forced to play last season in Australia instead of New Zealand – with the exception of a pair of late-season matches in Wellington and Auckland – the Club was still designated 13 home and 13 away games for its campaign.
It goes without saying that an away match - in an opposition stadium full of fans cheering the other side - is significantly more difficult for a team to win in any sporting environment. So if there’s a silver lining to last season's campaign, it’s what the Phoenix were able to achieve during their away matches which stands out as impressive; the 'Nix emerging as true road warriors over the course of their season.
For the 2020/21 season, the Phoenix won five matches, drew five and lost three games while playing away from 'home'. This is the lowest number of away losses in Club history (3) and the second-highest number of road wins (5), the latter second only to the Club’s 2014/15 season which produced seven road wins (7W, 1D, 4L).
These results also gave the Nix its second-best win percentage (38%) on the road in Club history, second again to Wellington’s 2014/15 campaign which won 54% of its away games. And they also recorded the second-highest points in Club history (20), behind only – you guessed it - the Phoenix’s 2014/15 season (22 points generated on the road).
This also marks the first time in Club History that the Phoenix were able to generate more points from its away matches (20) than from its home matches (18).
Perhaps most impressively, the Phoenix recorded the largest Goal Differential (+5) in away matches in Club history, which coincidentally was equal with its Goal Differential for its 13 home games (5W, 3D, 5L). This is only the second time that Wellington has generated an overall positive Goal Differential for its away games for a season, alongside its 2014/15 campaign (+3).
Defence played a key role in these away matches, with the Phoenix recording the lowest number of Goals Against in Club history (15), besting the 16 Goals Against registered by the Club in its 2011/12 campaign.
Next week we look at several statistical achievements set by the Club last season from both a player and team perspective, and we explore a few of the quirkier stats to come out of the Phoenix’s 2020/21 campaign.