After three seasons of mid-table obscurity in League One, Ipswich Town fans finally have a team to be proud of again. Their promotion back to the Championship was sealed in style last Saturday with a 6-0 rout of Exeter City at Portman Road. Those six goals have put them on the cusp of an extra achievement: scoring 100 goals in a league season.
The 99 So Far…
Ipswich Town are by far the highest scoring team in the English Football League this season, thanks to their 99-goal tally in League One with just one game remaining. They’ll need to score at least once in their final match away at Fleetwood Town on Sunday afternoon to become the 142nd side to reach a century of goals in an EFL season since 1888.
Their goal tally in 2022-23 is hardly a surprise when you realise Ipswich have had the most shots among all 98 teams in the top four tiers of England (781), while their xG total of 72.8 is second to only Championship side Middlesbrough (73.2).
Just one of their 99 goals has been an own goal scored by an opposition player (thanks Dominic Iorfa) and the main source of those goals has been forward Conor Chaplin, who’s netted 26 times in 44 games.
Chaplin is currently leading the race to become League One top scorer in 2022-23, with his tally one higher than Peterborough United’s Jonson Clarke-Harris (25). In fact, only Middlesbrough’s Chuba Akpom (28), Andy Cook of League Two side Bradford City (28) and Erling Haaland (35) have scored more goals than Chaplin across the top four tiers of English football in 2022-23 ahead of the weekend.
Should they reach 100 goals on Sunday, Ipswich will have hit a century of league goals in a season for just the fourth time.
Not since 1960-61 have Ipswich Town reached the century of goals in a league season, when they won promotion to the top-flight with a Division Two title under the management of the legendary Sir Alf Ramsey. In fact, all three league seasons that have seen Ipswich reach 100 league goals have all come under Ramsey, so current boss Kieran McKenna would be following in the footsteps of greatness.
They’d need to go one better than they did last weekend and score seven away at Fleetwood Town on Sunday if they were to equal their all-time EFL record goal tally in a season, so that record feels safe for now.
There’s every chance that Ipswich won’t finish top of the League One table despite being the highest scorers in the division. They have to better Plymouth Argyle’s result on Sunday (they play at Port Vale) if they are to stand any chance of the title.
A weird quirk of third-tier centurions in the last 55 years has been their failure to win the title despite scoring so many goals. The only other two third-tier clubs across those 55 years to score 100+ league goals have also failed to win the title that season, with MK Dons scoring 101 goals in 2014-15 on the way to finishing second, while Peterborough United ended fourth in 2010-11 despite scoring 106 goals before being promoted via the play-offs.
English Clubs with 100 League Goals
The all-time English Football League record for goals by a team in a single season is held by Peterborough United in their fourth-tier title-winning campaign of 1960-61, with the Posh scoring an incredible 134 goals in 46 games.
Overall, there have been 141 previous occasions of a club scoring 100 or more goals in a single EFL campaign since the inaugural 1888-89 season – the last of those being Fulham on the way to being promoted to the Premier League from the Championship last season, with Marco Silva’s Aleksandar Mitrović-powered side scoring 106 goals.
It’s become a much rarer occurrence over the last half century, however – only 13 teams have hit a century of league goals in a season in the last 55 years (1967-68 onwards):
Lincoln City: 111 goals in 1975-76 (4th Tier)
Huddersfield Town: 101 goals in 1979-80 (4th Tier)
Northampton Town: 103 goals in 1986-87 (4th Tier)
Bolton Wanderers: 100 goals in 1996-97 (2nd Tier)
Manchester City: 108 goals in 2001-02 (2nd Tier)
Chelsea: 103 goals in 2009-10 (1st Tier)
Peterborough United: 106 goals in 2010-11 (3rd Tier)
Manchester City: 102 goals in 2013-14 (1st Tier)
Liverpool: 101 goals in 2013-14 (1st Tier)
MK Dons: 101 goals in 2014-15 (3rd Tier)
Manchester City: 106 goals in 2017-18 (1st Tier)
Manchester City: 102 goals in 2019-20 (1st Tier)
Fulham: 106 goals in 2021-22 (2nd Tier)
Across this century, there have been just nine occasions of a team scoring 100 goals or more in the EFL across a single season. Over half of those (five) have come in the Premier League, with Manchester City dominating the goalscoring records across this period.
In 2019-20, City scored 102 times in the Premier League but could only finish behind Liverpool in the table. It was the first time that a top-flight side had scored at least 100 goals in a single league season and not won the title since a reversal of fortunes in 2013-14 when Liverpool scored 101 times but finished one goal and two points behind Manchester City in the Premier League (102 goals and 86 points).
In between those two campaigns, Manchester City’s 106 goals in their title-winning 2017-18 effort saw them finish as the highest scoring team in an English top-flight season since Tottenham Hotspur in 1962-63 (111 goals). That season also saw them become the only team in EFL history to both score 100 goals and reach 100 points – although if you converted all EFL teams to three-points-for-a-win historically, there would have been seven other occasions where that happened.
The first-ever Premier League team to reach 100 goals were Chelsea in 2009-10 under Carlo Ancelotti. They surpassed the 100-goal mark in spectacular fashion, with an 8-0 thrashing of Wigan Athletic on the final day at Stamford Bridge to wrap up the league title ahead of Manchester United.
Of the 33 teams to have scored 100 plus goals in a top-flight English season, over a third (12) came across a four-season period between 1956-57 and 1960-61. This was arguably the pinnacle of English top-flight goalscoring, with both 1957-58 (Preston, Wolves and Man City) and 1960-61 (Spurs, Wolves and Burnley) seeing three teams score at least 100 league goals.
Special mention goes to Manchester United in 1959-60, who scored 102 goals but could only finish seventh in the league table – the lowest top-flight finish for a side to score a century of goals.