Who is the Hyundai A-League’s ultimate super-sub?

Up to and including Round 21, there have been a staggering 40 goals scored by players coming off the bench this season in the Hyundai A-League.

Who could forget Sydney FC’s Matt Simon?

Coming off the bench he banged in a brace against his former club the Mariners, sparking Arnie to remind his former club what they passed up.

Archie Thompson got in on the act too. He came on in a thriller for Victory. From being three goals down at the break against the Mariners, it ended 3-3 with Archie grabbing the second in Geelong.

A day later Sky Blues fan favourite Ali Abbas made his long awaited return from an ACL injury and scored within ten minutes of entering the fray to seal the points against the Jets.

Sydney FC's Ali Abbas celebrates scoring against Newcastle in his return from injury.

Liverpool legend Luis Garcia came off the pine and inspired the Mariners to their first win on the road in 22 matches with a sublime back-heel that left Phoenix fans in Christchurch agasp.

And most recently Brendon Santalab sent the Wanderers back to the top of the table with his late acrobatics securing a 2-1 win over a red-hot Perth Glory outfit.

Brisbane and Adelaide have been the biggest beneficiaries of super-subs with seven goals, while the Mariners, Sky Blues, Wanderers and Phoenix have all notched five.

Glory only have three to their name, the same as Victory and City combined, while Newcastle is the only club yet to see a contribution from their substitutes.

So who has been the ultimate super-sub this season?

Blake Powell had netted three off the bench for Wellington before he was thrust into a starting role due to Roy Krishna’s long-term injury.

Wellington Phoenix striker Blake Powell celebrates one his four goals against the Wanderers.

Pablo Sanchez has also registered three for the Reds but more tellingly is one of five different scorers called upon to make an impact.

Diego Castro, Matt Simon, Matthew Ridenton, Matt Sim, Josh Bingham and Shane Smeltz have all made valuable contributions with two apiece.

However the super-sub race is between two stars whose teams meet on Friday night at Suncorp.

Roar striker Henrique and Wanderers forward Brendon Santalab.

Roar’s Henrique and Wanderers’ Brendon Santalab have both banked five of their six goals coming off the bench this season.

A closer look at their Opta stats reveals Henrique has scored in five of his nine substitute appearances – an impressive return – and over the season averages a goal approximately every 130 minutes.

Undoubtedly the highlight to date has been the winner the 30-year-old scored in his return from a knee reconstruction against Perth back in Round 6.

The fairytale comeback grew as the season progressed leading to calls for the “Slippery Fish” to be chosen for the Socceroos in the wake of the diminutive striker becoming an Aussie citizen.

Meanwhile, Santalab’s five-goal haul has come from the 14 times he’s been called upon, including four in his last six outings – each finding the back of the net in the 85th minute or after.

In terms of his season highlight it’s hard to go past the late gift ‘Santa’ brought to Pirtek last weekend to help see his side past Perth.

Santalab’s recent exploits have also seen Tony Popovic hand the 33-year-old a two-year contract extension last month.

In terms of pushing for a starting spot, working against Henrique is the fact that he is far more prolific coming off the bench.

Meanwhile Santalab has made just the one start during the 2015/16 campaign (and he happened to score after 20 minutes).

Brendon Santalab has been in sensational form for Western Sydney Wanderers over the past month.

Between them they have 31 appearances this season, with only Henrique having played a full 90 minutes (on one occasion).

Henrique’s contribution off the bench has resulted in an additional five points earned by Roar. 

In this respect Santalab’s record is superior, with the forward’s goals responsible for an additional seven points.

Santalab averages a goal approximately every 53 minutes – far and away the league’s best conversion rate – making him the ‘ultimate super-sub’ right now.