A better performance on Tuesday night from the sounds of things, with even Fortuné playing well. Yet it’s now a fourth consecutive defeat thanks to two pieces of sloppy defending. It was a performance characteristic of our poor form, unable to take advantage of being on top, handing the opposition silly goals.
It’s not quite time to call the season over, but anything less than a win here at Blackpool is going to see the play-offs slip further out of our grasp. Some perspective is required, three points off the play-offs with 11 games to play isn’t a bad position to be in. I know it looks pretty grim right now but we still have a chance. It’s not asking for blind faith to not write the season off yet, rather it’s not allowing a talented side to get away with another two months of under-performing to add to the current three.
All we can do now is look to sort ourselves out and see what comes of it. Hopefully, we can look approach the remaining set of fixtures with a ‘if we can’t go up, let’s go out all guns blazing’ attitude, that would be good. Cast off the cautiousness, the nervousness, the desire to eke points out here and there. We’re not very good at the back, we’ve got some talented attacking players, let’s go for the jugular.
Tony Mowbray’s mindset may very well be somewhat different to us as fans. Four defeats on the bounce is something that a manager of his experience should have avoided, along with the run we’ve been on, going five in a row could prove to be unforgivable. Most fans still like Tony Mowbray for what he’s done since his arrival, we want him to be a success here but this poor form has to be sorted out sooner than ASAP.
Once again, it’s hard to predict who’s going to get picked. You would imagine that the performance at Shrewsbury would convince Mowbray to stick with most who started that game. Although you would think that Mowbray would like some better defenders to pick from, it’s hard to see anyone coming in to the backline from the rest of the squad. The surprise may be that there aren’t many changes.
Last Time We Met
Our last game against Blackpool was as dull and dismal as it got for a Coventry City home game at the start of the season. Blackpool were intelligent enough to mark our fleet-footed attacking midfielders and give Fortuné time and space on the ball which nullified most of our threat going forward. It was the visitors who looked likeliest to win, with their striker Mark Cullen guilty of a glaring miss in the second-half when one-on-one with Reice Charles-Cook. In a bore 0-0 draw, the game was perhaps most notable for a season-ending injury suffered innocuously by Reda Johnson.
How Are They Doing?
Blackpool have vacillated between looking like a well-drilled, hard-working side capable of eking out enough points for survival and simply being a bad team. Unsurprisingly for a side managed by a former Sam Allardyce assistant, Neil McDonald, they are a side that prides themselves on being frustrating and hard to beat, although only Crewe have lost more times than Blackpool this season.
Scoring goals has been an issue for them all season, having registered a joint low of 33. A strike force of Jack Redshaw and Mark Cullen, neither of whom have ever been prolific goalscorers at this level, hasn’t lacked for effort but have been erratic in front of goal for much of the campaign. Ex-player watch this week will be in the form of Danny Philliskirk, who made one appearance of no note for us at the end of the 2012-13 season, brought in to assist Redshaw and Cullen having been slightly above average for Oldham over the past few seasons. Philliskirk has scored three goals in three of his last appearances against us.
Two others to keep an eye out for are Brad Potts in midfield and Tom Aldred in central defence. Potts had been a highly-rated youngster coming out of Carlisle’s academy and it was a surprise to see him move to a club in Blackpool’s predicament in the summer. Tall, strong and energetic, Potts is a real presence in midfield who’ll test the confidence of the likes of Fleck and Vincelot. Aldred in defence is a no-nonsense centre-half and a real threat from set-pieces.
Blackpool’s goalkeeper Colin Doyle is the other key player in this side. The former Birmingham City stalwart finally flew the coop from St Andrews in the summer and is a class above at this level of football. He could potentially be one of those goalkeepers who completely shuts up shop against us, given our recent run, that looks eminently possible.
With Blackpool actually on a worse run of form over the past six games than we currently are (two points from a possible 18 versus our three) this is probably the best opportunity we could have to grab a much-needed win. As I’ve made clear already, Blackpool will relish playing the role of spoilers against us. They are a team fighting for their lives at the bottom of the table and more troublingly, are useful from set plays.
You would imagine though that we’re so desperate for a win ourselves, that we’re unlikely to treat a potential win here as a given. The next few games are going to be so vital in giving us a chance this season, let’s hope we don’t throw away another opportunity to seize the low hanging fruit that is promotion from League One this season. I’m going to predict a 3-1 win.