In the latest in his series looking at how goals have been scored and created in the SPFL this season, Craig Cairns focuses on Michael O’Halloran.
Either side of his switch from St Johnstone to Ibrox, the former Bolton player has shown tremendous ability to power beyond the opposing left-back, usually cutting inside slightly, to either fire a dangerous ball across the goal or precisely pick out a team-mate.
So far he has 11 assists this season and 10 of them came while at St Johnstone. As the map shows, each one has come from the right half of the pitch. On one occasion against Dundee near the start of the season, he raced on to a pass then somehow emerged from a pack of three defenders with the ball before finding Steven MacLean who scored.
Since then, he has continued to dominate full-backs and create from the right. He invariably keeps his deliveries low – six of his 11 assists have been low crosses, one a cutback and one more has been a short pass from wide on the right.
Even when he hasn’t recorded an assist, many goals have come from him attacking the flank and drilling the ball across goal. He did so in the build-up to one of St Johnstone’s goals at Tannadice in November – although a short spell of screwball scramble ensued before the ball was bundled in by Murray Davidson.
Then, at Ibrox, arguably St Johnstone’s best performance of the season, even though he didn’t directly assist any of the three goals, he created the first, again powering down the wing before firing in a low cross that was flicked on by MacLean and finished by Davidson.
Minutes later he found MacLean at the back post after a similar run but the striker missed an open goal. O’Halloran capped off that performance with the third goal shortly after half-time, one of his seven goals this season.