DCSIMG

Entertainers’ show spoiled by shocking pitch

Wes Thomas and Abdoulaye Faye crack heads but no serious damage done

Wes Thomas and Abdoulaye Faye crack heads but no serious damage done

IT’s official, Blackpool were the most entertaining team in the Championship in 2012.

The Seasiders scored 90 goals, more than any other side in the division last year.

So on the first day of 2013, it’s ironic we witnessed one of the dullest games I can remember.

And while you may blame lack of creativity, poor finishing or the tough Christmas period, for me it boils down to one thing – the pitch.

For weeks now, players and supporters have been moaning about the surface at Bloomfield Road, as the poor weather takes its toll.

But yesterday even the most optimistic of people will tell you it’s killing Blackpool’s chances.

It may well be the same for both sides, but opposition players only have to deal with it once a season, not every second week.

The main problem with such a poor surface is how unpredictable the game become – players just can’t trust the bounce.

Therefore they are forced to take any risk out of their play. The neat through-ball and tricky runs have to be replaced by simple five-yard passes and otherwise needless extra touches.

It’s no surprise the more technical players in the squad (like Tom Ince and Gary Taylor-Fletcher) were hardly noticeable.

The result yesterday was a slowed down, dull game devoid of any chances.

Taking the pitch out of the equation, no-one will be queuing up to buy a copy of the match DVD, but Blackpool probably shaded it.

They had the bulk of possession and won the battle which the pitch forced the game to become.

On the face of it, Michael Appleton will be pleased his side earned a point from a Hull team who couldn’t stop winning going into the game.

There were positives, a clean sheet being one of them.

Matt Gilks and Pool’s back four were much criticised following the 4-2 defeat against Middlesbrough on Saturday, so they’ll be delighted to shut out Steve Bruce’s men.

The Pool boss promised change and made three.

Neal Eardley returned for his first start since Appleton’s first game in charge against Bolton, Ludo Sylvestre came into the midfield and Isaiah Osbourne returned from suspension.

Craig Cathcart, Tiago Gomes and Nathan Delfouneso were the victims.

Appleton’s men have been starting slowly in recent weeks, but there was no sign of this yesterday.

The Seasiders started brightly, keeping the ball well against a Hull side which looked happy to sit back and play very much on the counterattack.

You got the feeling Hull boss Bruce took one look at the pitch and decided a point would be a good result for his promotion- chasing side.

On this evidence, Hull are nothing more than an organised and solid unit, which is what you need at this level.

You have to say the opening half was a drab affair, with both teams struggling to string together any moments of quality.

In fact, the only glimpse of goal came on 15 minutes, when David Meyler fired high and wide for Hull from the edge of the area.

The visitors threatened again in the 22nd minute, when striker Sone Aluko flashed a 25-yard shot wide and it was not until the 29th minute that Blackpool’s coveted winger Ince fired his side’s first shot on goal straight at Eldin Jakupovic.

It took 35 minutes for Blackpool to produce anything else of note, and that was only a corner. Sadly Ince’s dead-ball was easily cleared.

As half-time approached, it was Blackpool who finished the stronger of the two sides, without creating anything.

Blackpool didn’t play particularly badly, just struggled to find a breakthrough in the final third.

It says it all when the main talking point in the press room at half-time was about the Blue Ford Fiesta, whose owner was continuously appealed to by the stadium announcer

Bruce tried to shake things up by making two substitutions at the break. On came Jay Simpson and Nick Proschwitz.

And it was one of the subs who almost put the away side ahead a minute into the second half, Simpson rising to head straight at Matt Gilks from seven yards. It was a simple save for the Blackpool keeper.

Gilks was again called into action five minutes later, when he did well to hold on to a decent free-kick from Robbie Brady.

After a barren start, we were treated to a host of chances, with Wes Thomas coming close from 20 yards.

The striker won the ball on the right, cut inside and fired a left-footed effort just wide of Jakupovic’s post.

The game quickly fizzed out again, and on 66 minutes came Appleton’s first change, Nathan Delfouneso coming on in place of the injured Thomas.

Blackpool finally strung together a decent passage of play on 70 minutes, which ended in Syvlestre striking just over, Taylor-Fletcher and Ince combining well to create the opening for the Frenchman.

The chance of the game came on 77 minutes, and it fell to the away side.

Brady broke into the box and cut the ball back into the path of Cory Evans, who should really have scored from eight yards.

The talk is that yesterday’s game may well prove to be Ince’s last game at Blackpool, and on 85 minutes he almost went out in style.

For the first time all afternoon, the 21-year-old found space 25 yards out and curled a lovely effort goalwards, sadly Jakupovic was a match to it.

Blackpool’s final chance saw Delfouneso blaze over from inside the area in stoppage time.

Overall the Seasiders will be happy to earn a point and get themselves away from Bloomfield Road for a couple of games.

It’s been a tough festive period , with two points from four matches, and Saturday’s FA Cup clash against Fulham may well see a few changes made by the Pool boss.

If Blackpool are to finish anywhere near the play-offs, they need to sort the pitch – it’s as simple as that.

Should they ignore the problem, they can forget all about another trip to Wembley in May.

 

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