When a Scottish Premiership manager looks along his bench, desperate for someone to turn the game in his favour, this is who he calls upon.
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Tied 9th - Brian Graham (Ross County) - 13 substitute appearances
The lanky striker came on 13 times on league duty but it was his introduction in one particular cup game that made the biggest impact on County’s season. With the League Cup final poised at 1-1, Graham was brought off the bench in place of the ineffective Liam Boyce, enabling County to be a force again going forward. The striker had a goal disallowed before his threatening back post run forced Liam Fontaine into the error that laid the winning strike on a plate for Alex Schalk.
Tied 9th - Andrea Mbuyi-Mutombo (Inverness CT) - 13 substitute appearances
Similar to Graham, Mutombo most noted contribution off the bench came in the cup. Hibs, 1-0 up at Easter Road, looked to be cruising into the semi-finals until the Belgian’s intervention forced a replay. Though Inverness would lose the rematch, his goal at least encouraged John Hughes to reconsider his standing within the squad and he started five matches prior to the end of the season.
Tied 9th - Christian Nade (Hamilton) - 13 substitute appearances
If we’re judging this on a ratio of sub appearances to time spent at a club, then Nade is No.1 by far. He was only a Hamilton player until January and yet he still makes the top 10. It was then decided that he wasn’t quite up to the top flight level, though he did end the campaign in a rich vein of form for Dumbarton.
Tied 9th - Simon Murray (Dundee United) - 13 substitute appearances
Murray has been trusted with a few appearances from the starting XI in recent weeks and has began to look like a bit of a player. Seeing as you cannot say the same for the rest of the United squad this season, maybe he should have been trusted from the beginning of matches more oftenn.
8th - Kris Boyd (Kilmarnock) - 14 substitute appearances
You can certainly see the logic here. Get Josh Magennis to tire out the opposition defenders then bring on Boyd for the final 20 minutes. When the ball breaks in the penalty area, he’s going to be sharper to it than a group of tiring defenders. A good plan in theory, but in practice he’s netted only one of his six goals this campaign after rising from the subs bench.
Tied 5th - Stewart Murdoch (Ross County) - 15 substitute appearances
Murdoch’s actually played 34 games in all competitions this campaign for the Staggies, making him a regular in the first-team squad, though exactly half of these half come as a substitute. He’s usually introduced to bring extra energy or tenacity to the centre of the park.
Tied 5th - Mathias Pogba (Partick Thistle) - 15 substitute appearances
This should actually be more. Pogba does a job holding up the ball and making himself a nuisance against opposing defenders with his strength. However, he struggles to score goals, netting two all season, and his selection at the point of the Thistle attack must baffle an incredulous Kris Doolan every time such a scenario occurs.
Tied 5th - Tope Obadeyi (Kilmarnock)- 15 substitute appearances
Have you seen Jurassic Park? Of course you have. You’re not some sort of weird, social outcast who’s never watched one of the greatest movies of all time. Well, do you know the bit where Ian Malcolm (that’s Jeff Goldblum to the ignorant) explains Chaos Theory? Well, that process is what a Kilmarnock manager goes through every time he picks Tope Obadeyi. They don’t know what’s coming, he doesn’t know what’s coming, and neither does the opposing team, but damn if it isn’t entertaining to watch.
4th - John Sutton (St Johnstone) - 16 substitute appearances
It’s really not worked out for Big Johnny Handsome at McDiarmid Park, has it? Despite being signed to a two-year deal, he’s not had much of a look-in since the opening months of the season, making only five league starts to go along with those 16 sub appearances. He’s only managed one goal which, inevitably, came at Tynecastle.
3rd - Gavin Reilly (Hearts) - 17 substitute appearances
Similar to the Boyd example, using Reilly off the bench makes a lot of sense on paper. He’s fast, works hard and can, therefore, be a real nuisance for tiring defenders in the final third. However, that’s not quite been Reilly’s modus operandi this campaign. He’s actually been at his best from the starting XI as, instead of making an individual impact with the ball at his feet, it’s his presence which helps to stretch opposing sides and open up room for others. It hasn’t stopped him getting close to 20 appearances from the bench, though.
2nd - Greg Docherty (Hamilton) - 18 substitute appearances
Docherty is the one player who can be truly satisfied with being on this list. He’s still only 19, so earning 34 league appearances in the top flight of Scottish football, regardless of however many of them came from the bench, is something to be proud of. Accies fans really like the look of the all-action midfielder who can either sit in front of the back four or aid the attack further forward.
1st - Chris Kane (St Johnstone) - 19 substitute appearances
The heir apparent to Stevie May is steadily becoming a bigger part of the St Johnstone side. Fans have been desperate to see more of the attacker since he banged in the goals across two loan spells at Dumbarton, though they’ve largely had to be patient. His role increased this past campaign and the onus will be on him to take another step forward next term. Despite what his hairline may suggest he’s still got youth on his side, having turned just 21 this past season.
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