Scoring and conceding via substitutes this season

When Preston’s Callum Robinson netted their winner against Charlton yesterday evening, he became their first substitute to score this season and ended their unwelcome distinction of being the only Football League side not to have had a substitute find the net this season.

Below I’ve put together some quick charts to compare the percentage of goals that each club in the Football League and National League have scored and conceded from substitutes this season. It’s important to flag that there’s nothing inherently right or wrong about scoring and conceding an unusual amount of goals in this way, but does raise some interesting questions about the options available to each manager and how they tend to use their allotted substitutes tactically.

Scoring goals via substitutes

CH sub goals for - 2016-02-24

Two sides – Bolton and MK Dons – have seen almost one in every five league goals they’ve scored this season netted by a substitute, although Sheffield Wednesday‘s subs have been the most prolific in the division, netting eight times for the Owls between them. Lucas João has been the most prolific scorer from the bench, responsible for five of these.

At the bottom of the chart, Preston and Bristol City have each only seen one of their league goals netted by a substitute this season. It’d be interesting to know whether this was down to their managers tending to make more conservative tactical changes, a lack of firepower on the bench or just a coincidence.L1 sub goals for - 2016-02-24

Moving to League 1, Fleetwood have also seen around one in five of their goals scored by a substitute, with seven strikes by four different players. Peterborough and Rochdale have also seen seven goals netted by players who started the game on the bench: the joint-most in the division.

Four sides have seen their subs net just twice – the division’s lowest – with Millwall having the lowest overall share given that their starting elevens have rattled in 49 more between them.

L2 sub goals for - 2016-02-24

Newport lead the way here, with over a quarter of their goals scored by substitutes. Both Scott Boden and Oliver McBurnie have netted three times from the bench for the Exiles, with three others netting once each.

There are two sides with more prolific subs in raw goal terms: Morecambe‘s have 11 between them, with Paul Mullin alone responsible for seven, and Portsmouth have 10 spread more thinly (Conor Chaplin has their highest individual tally from the bench with three).

At the bottom Wycombe are alone in having netted just once via a substitute this season. Other than the two goals mustered by Hartlepool‘s bench, every other side in the division has seen at least three scored by a sub.
NL sub goals for - 2016-02-24

Forest Green‘s substitutes are by far the National League’s most prolific, having netted 11 goals between them (including four for Kurtis Guthrie and three for Aaron O’Connor) while nobody else’s have more than six. However the sheer number of times they’ve netted overall this season (60) means that two sides have seen their subs score a greater share. Six of Guiseley‘s 31 and five of Boreham Wood‘s 27 have been converted from the bench.

At the bottom of the graph, Dover have somehow managed to score only one of their 55 goals via a substitute this season, while both Southport and Macclesfield have also seen only a single sub find the net.

Conceding goals via substitutes

It’s also easy to look at the flip side of the coin: how many goals each club has conceded from substitutes this season, starting again with the Championship.

CH sub goals against - 2016-02-24

Almost a third of the goals that Leeds have conceded this season – 11 out of 35 – have been scored by one of their opponents’ substitutes, which is the highest number on any of these graphs by far. MK Dons aren’t far behind in raw terms with 10, but this represents a much smaller share of the 45 they’ve shipped so far.

While Preston have removed the final zero on the “scored” chart, we still have one on this one thanks to Hull, who have not conceded a goal to a substitute in the Championship so far. Both Derby and Blackburn have allowed only one sub to score against them.
L1 sub goals against - 2016-02-24

Port Vale have seen almost a quarter of the goals they’ve conceded struck by a sub – nine in total – although struggling Colchester have conceded one more. Leaders Burton are the only other side to have shipped more than one in five in this way – six of the 27 they’ve conceded – with the latest coming from Southend’s David Mooney in stoppage time on Monday night.

Despite their struggles this season, Crewe have conceded the joint-fewest goals from opposing substitutes – just two – and the lowest percentage overall. Rochdale, Scunthorpe and Southend have also been breached just twice by a sub sub in League 1 so far.
L2 sub goals against - 2016-02-24

Over a quarter of the goals conceded by Luton have come from a substitute, with the 12 goals they’ve conceded the highest of any side in the four divisions covered here. Promotion-challenging Accrington and Plymouth have also shipped over one in five goals in this way.

While Portsmouth and Wycombe have conceded the joint-fewest goals from substitutes – just two each – the three goals that subs have scored against Exeter is the smallest share of any club’s goals conceded.
NL sub goals against - 2016-02-24

Over one in five of the goals shipped by leaders Cheltenham has come from an opposing sub: the highest proportion of any National League side. However six sides have conceded more goals overall, chief amongst them Aldershot with seven.

Play-off chasing Lincoln have only been breached once by a substitute this season – the lowest of any fifth tier side – with three others having only conceded twice in this way.