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The day Opta tracked me: ‘My pass completion was 60% … Christian Benteke standard’ | Paul MacInnes

When Opta invited a team of journalists to a match in which all their stats would be recorded, the offer was one I could not turn down

When you play a match at Gander Green Lane you feel the weight of recent history. The run that took Sutton United of the National League to the fifth round of the FA Cup, one which ended only in narrow defeat to Arsenal, is commemorated on the walls of the clubhouse. There are numerous photographs of Jamie Collins’s winning penalty against Leeds, of ecstatic pile-ons after the late replay victory over Wimbledon. There are pictures of manager Paul Doswell pointing on the touchline, there are very few of Wayne Shaw. It gets the goosebumps popping before you step on the pitch.

I know this because I played on Gander Green Lane’s hallowed 3G myself recently. And I’ve got the stats to prove it. Alongside a bunch of other hacks, pundits, podcasters and YouTubers, I was invited by sports data company Opta to play in an 11-a-side game in which they would record the statistics, just as they do for every Premier League match. Passes completed, interceptions made, shots on target, all would be noted down. The same also applied to those incomplete, unmade, and off target.

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