Albion 2 Norwich 0

It’s not just about who starts a game. It is also about who finishes it.

Graham Potter spoke about that as he prepared his Albion side to face Norwich.

The thought no doubt also crossed his mind as he picked his 18.

Fitting, then, that, on the day he named the first unchanged starting XI of his Albion tenure, two subs got the goals which secured this third successive home win.

Leandro Trossard, the man who was probably closest to breaking up Potter’s initial XI, broke the deadlock.

And Shane Duffy, one of two to come back into the 18 after the win over Everton, settled any nerves.

The art of sealing a deal is key in sport.

Limited-overs cricket used to have its finishers.

That role with the bat is almost out of date now with all players expected to be able to handle a run-chase.

But ‘death bowlers’ go for big money in the Twenty20 auctions.

Baseball has had its closers, in terms of pitchers, for decades.

And the days of injury replacements only in rugby union are long gone. Ask Eddie Jones.

Or maybe don’t ask Eddie given his reply to a recent enquiry about George Ford being “dropped” to the bench.

Not dropped, just a change of role, Jones replied before inviting his questioner to join him in the modern day.

Football is not quite the same. The best combination, if not necessarily the best 11 players, usually start matches.

But Trossard became a finisher in more ways than one as he reprised the role he took to such effect seven days earlier against Everton.

He will not want to become known as a supersub but the buzz as he came on was proved justified as Albion finally secured a win which should have been bigger and wrapped up earlier.

“It’s very tough to select the team and tough to select the subs,” Potter said of his same-again XI.

“I’m sure nobody is going to feel sorry for me but that’s great, that’s what you want – options off the bench and that is probably the most pleasing thing.

“In the last couple of weeks, the subs have helped us get over the line. The players want to play, they want to start, but we have got a group who are ready to help the team, even when they don’t start, so that is really great for me.

“In the final third especially Leo is good because he can see a pass, he can finish, he can take a touch, he makes good decisions and often that is the most difficult place to do that.

“He will be frustrated and want to start matches but, at the moment, he has been out since August and it’s nice to have him to help the team at the back end of the game when it becomes more open.”

Albion should have been ahead without looking to the bench.

Steven Alzate was denied by Tim Krul’s right foot and bounced a volley wide when the Dutch keeper could only watch as the Seagulls responded to the jolt of seeing Marco Stiepermann curl against their crossbar early on.

A remarkable period of first-half added time saw Neal Maupay fail to connect in a scramble, hook a shot over from close in and rightly survive a VAR red card review before Alexander Tettey almost headed into his own top corner.

The half-time talk was of who would break the ice.

Trossard was a certainty to appear but might frontman Glenn Murray be thrown on and show them how to do it?

As it turned out, Trossard scored with a Murray-like finish in the six-yard box.

The Argus:

Albion kept playing their football and the Belgian struck when Martin Montoya drilled a tempting low cross to the near post.

Duffy, on for the injured Adam Webster, became the fourth Albion sub to score in a win this season when he stretched to get his foot to Trossard’s tempting free-kick, sent swirling to the far post.

And it might have been a treble for the closers when Ezequiel Schelotto, sent on down the left, curled narrowly wide.

There were plenty of other near things. A couple of stunning moves from inside Albion’s own half merited more reward.

Davy Propper was inches from the goal he deserved as he let fly towards Krul’s top corner.

Dale Stephens and Aaron Connolly also went close and Krul denied Maupay.

Norwich offered a brief rally after going 1-0 down but were well contained by an Albion side who always looked like they felt the win would come.

Patience on the pitch and trust in their football was generally, if not always, reflected in the stands.

Potter said: “Sometimes the crowd can get a bit frustrated if a pass goes backwards because it’s 0-0 and you are at home.

“But sometimes a backward pass can open up a way to go through.

“It isn’t so easy to do when you are at home and the crowd want you to score and go forwards.

“We have to manage those situations and we did it okay.

“We probably attacked well enough to score and to win the game and I am delighted for the players.”