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.
With the minutes ticking down on the clock against Wolves last week at Selhurst Park, Crystal Palace were 1-0 up.
The next goal would be a crucial one, and Roy Hodgson’s subs invited the visitors to have first dibs at it, an offer they didn’t hesitate to accept.
Frustratingly, the former England manager only used two of his subs – one of which being the very like-for-like swap of James McArthur for James McCarthy, similar in name as well as playing style.
We detailed why the 72-year-old should have subbed Andros Townsend on as his third and final sub to work the tired Wolves players and exploit the space – it seems as if Hodgson learned from the error of his ways with a shrewd swap against Norwich last time out.
Similarly to the Wolves game, the Eagles were leading by a single goal going into stoppage time.
Typically, Hodgson would be conservative, presumably looking towards the more defensive option on his bench with his side 1-0 up.
In that respect, his decision to substitute Townsend on for Cheikhou Kouyate in the 70th minute seemed an uncharacteristic one, and also a move that suggested the experienced boss was preparing to extend his side’s lead rather than protect it.
Where Hodgson was conservative against Nuno Espirito Santo’s side with his subs, his decision to bring Townsend on – as well as his decision to introduce another attack-minded option in Max Meyer – reaped the rewards.
Instead of conceding another gutting, stoppage-time goal, it was Hodgson’s side who scored one that was anything but gutting, rather uplifting – even more so given it was scored via the boot of Townsend.
To further emphasise how Hodgson learned the error of his ways, Meyer was also involved significantly in the build-up to Townsend’s strike, playing a deft, clipped ball into Wilfried Zaha’s feet down the line.
He can often be a stubborn man, can Hodgson, but he showed that even the oldest of dogs can learn a new trick or two with his beneficial substitution.