Target practice: Yorkshire strikers firing blanks

Graphic: Graeme Bandeira
Graphic: Graeme Bandeira
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The need to have a ‘20-goals-a-season man’ is often bandied about these days as a prerequisite for success.

Teams that have a striker who can find the net on a consistent basis are thought, more often than not, to be the ones at the front of the queue when the prizes are being handed out in May.

But how important is it to have one player who regularly finds the net and is it better if the goals are shared around?

Casting an eye over the teams within the Broad Acres and goalscoring on the whole this season is proving a difficulty – something that probably explains why none of our sides are in contention for automatic promotion.

This season, our 10 League clubs have found the back of the net on 489 occasions – 95 times fewer than last season with less than a month of the campaign remaining.

The highest scorers this term are Rotherham United as they cement a place in the League One play-offs.

FIRING BLANKS: Huddersfield Town manager David Wagner's Huddersfield Town have struggled for goals in their first season in the Premier League. Picture: John Walton/PA

FIRING BLANKS: Huddersfield Town manager David Wagner's Huddersfield Town have struggled for goals in their first season in the Premier League. Picture: John Walton/PA

In stark contrast, Huddersfield Town have struggled to adapt to the Premier League.

The Terriers have scored just 25 goals in 32 outings and goal-scoring away from home has been a particular problem for David Wagner’s men.

On an individual basis, the odds of a striker from one of our clubs reaching the 20-goal barrier this season looks bleak.

Leon Clarke’s renaissance at Sheffield United appeared to wilt after scoring his 15th goal at Derby County on New Year’s Day. He then proceeded to draw blanks in his next 10 outings.

The Terriers have scored just 25 goals in 32 outings and goal-scoring away from home has been a particular problem for David Wagner’s men.

Ricky Charlesworth

However, Clarke notched against Cardiff City on Easter Monday and will be hopeful he can continue to find the net going into the final portion of the campaign.

After Clarke, four strikers from Yorkshire clubs are locked on 13 goals apiece.

Britt Assombalonga’s qualities in front of goal are unquestionable but his debut season at Middlesbrough has not gone entirely according to plan.

The £15m man will need a purple patch that extends deep into the Championship play-offs if he is to reach 20 goals for only the second time.

Leon Clarke: Leading the way.

Leon Clarke: Leading the way.

Jarrod Bowen is also on 13 – a fine return for someone enjoying his first full season and even more so given Hull’s Championship struggles following relegation.

Charlie Wyke is again having a prosperous season in front of goal for Bradford, although two dismissals in as many months has stalled his progress.

The other hitman on 13 is Kieffer Moore, who despite cutting short a fruitful loan spell at Rotherham to join South Yorkshire rivals Barnsley, still remains the Millers’ top scorer by some distance.

The rest of our clubs’ top-scorers are familiar names but they have either struggled to cope with the step-up in leagues or have been curtailed with injuries, such as John Marquis, Tom Bradshaw and Gary Hooper.

Looking back at the past five seasons, our 10 clubs have seen just eight players hit 20 or more league goals.

The last two campaigns have seen three players do it.

Billy Sharp’s remarkable tally of 30 goals helped deliver the League One title to Sheffield United, whilst Marquis notched 26 times and secured promotion from League Two for Doncaster.

Chris Wood’s tally of 27 goals was not quite enough for Leeds United as they just missed out on the play-offs but they did land him a Premier League move to Burnley last August.

In 2015-16, our clubs saw another three marksmen hit the 20-goal barrier.

This resulted in two promotions, with Abel Hernandez (20) and Sam Winnall (21) firing Hull City and Barnsley to play-off glory, respectively.

Sharp plundered 21 that season for the Blades but it was not enough as they finished a disappointing 11th.

The other players to have broken the 20-goal barrier in recent times were Ross McCormack (28) and Kieran Agard (21) in the 2013-14 campaign.

McCormack notched almost half of Leeds United’s 59 goals as they finished in mid-table whilst Agard’s goals powered the Millers to play-off glory out of League One.

It is not all about one man, however, with Bradford City reaching the League One play-off final despite their top marksman being loanee Jordy Hiwula with nine goals.

In 2013-14, Hull City guaranteed Premier League safety despite their joint-top scorers, Nikica Jelavic and Shane Long, scoring a paltry four goals each.

In 2015-16, Middlesbrough achieved arguably a greater feat when they secured automatic promotion to the Premier League despite David Nugent leading their ranks with a mere eight goals.

This was a classic example of a team sharing the load as Nugent’s modest tally was supplemented by seven strikes from Christian Stuani and Gaston Ramirez and six each from Albert Adomah and Jordan Rhodes.

Our shot-shy sides may once again have to rely on such all-round contributions if targets are to be met this season.