This article is part of Football FanCast’s Off the Bench series, which places in-game managerial decisions and squad selections under FFC’s microscope.
West Brom had to come from behind to keep their two-point advantage at the top of the Championship table on Tuesday evening.
The division’s basement boys Barnsley very nearly caused an upset as they went into half-time two goals to the good, thanks to a quickfire six-minute brace from Cauley Woodrow.
Albion found a way back into the match when Matheus Pereira’s inswinging corner went in off Tykes defender Bambo Diaby before the enigmatic Brazilian headed home an equaliser nine minutes from time.
Watch West Bromwich Albion Live Streams With StreamFootball.tv Below
It was Slaven Bilic’s half-time decision that inspired the comeback as he made the bold call to haul off one of this season’s stars in Nathan Ferguson for a more natural left-back in Conor Townsend while fellow academy graduate Kyle Edwards was also replaced with Filip Krovinovic coming on too.
The 19-year-old was recently linked with moves to Atletico Madrid, Juventus, and Tottenham, which is a reward for how impressive he has been to date, but during this match, he struggled to cope with Barnsley’s right wing-back.
Ferguson had been filling in just fine at left-back in Kieran Gibbs’ absence, so this shocker comes as a surprise.
Thankfully, Townsend stepped up to the mark and became a protagonist in changing the Baggies’ fortunes as he assisted Pereira’s late equaliser.
The 26-year-old had played just 19 minutes of Championship action before his introduction, and that came on the opening day against Nottingham Forest.
Since then, Townsend has only been named in the matchday squad six times, but that may well shift in the near future after his game-changing impact on Tuesday night.
Per SofaScore, the former Scunthorpe United defender recorded two successful dribbles, two key passes, and won three of his five aerial duels.
Given that Gibbs wasn’t in the matchday squad for this fixture, Townsend may have just played himself into the starting line up when the west Midlands side host Charlton Athletic at the Hawthorns this weekend.
The rarely-seen left-back can now kick on from his equalising assist with Ferguson moving back across to his more natural right side.