Benchmarks – Which EFL clubs took advantage of the new substitutions rule?
EFL clubs took advantage of the increase in available substitutions this weekend – though only a dozen used their full allocation of five.
Debate continues in the Premier League over whether to reinstate the rule introduced for the end of last season, with Jurgen Klopp and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer among the managers to argue strongly for it as the schedule remains intense.
The EFL made the move ahead of the weekend’s fixtures, though the four teams in action on Friday night barely seemed to notice – Birmingham and Mansfield made just one change apiece, Coventry three and only Colchester opted for a fourth change.
Across the weekend as a whole, teams made an average of 3.57 changes with 45 teams making at least four out of the 70 in action – Southend’s game with Cambridge was postponed.
In the Championship, teams were additionally allowed to name nine players on their bench whereas the lower leagues remained at seven – though the second tier actually saw the fewest substitutions on average, 3.33.
Brentford, Bristol City and Reading were just short of that mark with eight substitutes to call on, while Rotherham named just seven – though all those teams made four changes apart from Brentford with three.
Barnsley, Luton and Norwich were the only teams to make all five, while half the division declined to take advantage of the new additional options and Nottingham Forest joined Blues in making just one substitution.
The League One average of 3.75 substitutions was the highest on show and included Plymouth making all five of their changes before the second half.
Manager Ryan Lowe showed his frustration in a 5-1 loss to Fleetwood by removing Panutche Camara after only 11 minutes and Will Aimson after 38, with neither player injured, before a triple change at the break.
“I made a couple of changes early doors and then we made a couple of changes at half-time, but they’re the changes you feel you’ve got to make at the right time,” said Lowe afterwards.
Fleetwood also made all five changes, as did Crewe, Hull, MK Dons and Oxford, with only seven teams in the division making three or fewer.
Accrington got the least from their bench, with their only substitute Sean McConville sent off five minutes after his introduction.
In League Two, the average was 3.64 substitutions with Grimsby, Morecambe and Walsall making all five and only Crawley, Forest Green (both three), Barrow, Bolton, Cheltenham (two each) and Mansfield making three or fewer.
There were 14 goals scored by substitutes across the 35 games, including four by players who may not have seen the field under the previous rule.
Those included stoppage-time winners by Newport’s fourth substitute Kevin Ellison against Port Vale and AFC Wimbledon’s Ethan Chislett, brought on in the 87th minute as Glyn Hodges made his third and fourth substitutions together at Rochdale.
Luke Norris earned Colchester a point as their fourth substitute at Mansfield, though Luke Jephcott’s strike was a mere consolation having come on in Plymouth’s triple change at the interval.
Blackpool, Bristol City, Norwich, Charlton, Hull, Ipswich, Northampton, Wigan, Barrow and Tranmere also got goals from the bench, including Jack Lankester’s 97th-minute winner for Ipswich against Shrewsbury, but all 10 were among their respective first three substitutes.