EFL pundit Dean Ashton has suggested that the ability for Barnsley to make five substitutes per game has provided a major boost for them and could give them a potential advantage in the play-off hunt.
The Tykes have enjoyed an excellent run of form over the last few weeks with Barnsley managing to secure a third successive Championship win on Saturday with a 1-0 success at managerless Bristol City. Valerien Ismael’s side have been a team transformed over the last few months, after they started the campaign a little slowly under Gerhard Struber.
Since the rule was introduced meaning EFL clubs can make five subs per game rather than the traditional three back in November, the Tykes have gone on to take 32 points from 19 Championship matches. That comes after they took just 13 points from their opening 11 league games this term, meaning their form has improved from 1.2 points per game to 1.7 points per match.
Speaking on EFL on Quest, Ashton revealed that he believes the fact that Barnsley can now freshen up the side so they can press high up the pitch right up until the end of matches gives them a good chance of taking advantage of the pressure on some of the sides above them in the table.
He said: “And you can see the manager is intent on the sideline and driving his players forward.
“I think the fact they can make five substitutions means he can make the three substitutions at once to freshen the side up and being able to keep going and keep going right up until the end of the games is always going to give you a chance towards the end of the season when teams start to panic.”
Ashton is probably right to suggest that the Tykes have benefitted from being able to freshen things up with five new players from the bench if they want to during matches. That has seen Ismael be able to change the forwards and some of the midfield to keep fresh legs for the closing exchanges so they can continue to press tiring defences.
Against City, that paid off once again as it had done against Blackburn Rovers in midweek with Carlton Morris coming from the bench to score the winning goal. It enabled them to continue to force mistakes from their opponents in possession and kept them well on top of the game throughout the second half.
The change in subs has likely benefitted a number of clubs this season, with those at the top with deeper squads likely to have benefitted the most. However, for Barnsley, it has played a crucial role you feel in helping to lead their play-off charge. Although it has to be said there is more than enough quality in the side for them to have been up there without it, but it has been a major boost and could make a difference come to the end of the campaign.