Football Language: Goalmouth Scramble

goalmouth scramble

This post explains the phrase ‘goalmouth scramble‘, which you will often here when last ditch defending is involved. If you have questions or comments, please email us at:

  • You can also find many more examples of soccer vocabulary by going to our football cliches page here and our huge football glossary here.

Football Language: Goalmouth Scramble

This noun is used to describe chaotic defending. The goalmouth is the area just in front of the goal, so the six yard area, and sometimes this area is the scene of desperate defending, and that’s when we use goalmouth scramble. To scramble is to make something mixed up or broken (like scrambled eggs) or to move using your hands as well as your feet, maybe up a steep slope on a mountain. Using it to describe movement infers chaos and loss of control. So a goalmouth scramble is when defenders are desperately trying to clear the ball and attackers are also trying hard to put the ball in the net. No player has control over the ball. The ball bobbles, that is bounces awkwardly, rebounds off other players or posts, and cannot be controlled.

In the recent game between Manchester City and Liverpool in the Premier League, there were several goalmouth scrambles. One happened when Sadio Mane’s shot rebounded off the post and was cleared by John Stones. But the clearance hit the goalkeeper and bounced back towards the goal, where Stones, with some last ditch defending, cleared the ball off the line and through Mo Salah’s legs. It was a goalmouth scramble.

Check out our glossary of footballing phrases here
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Learn English Through Football
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I was born and brought up near Chester in the north west of England. I have always loved playing and talking about sport, especially football!
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