Blackburn 2-0 Blackpool: Five things we learned

Blackpool and Blackburn fans protest outside Ewood Park
Blackpool and Blackburn fans protest outside Ewood Park
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Blackpool FC writer Matt Scrafton takes a look at the key talking points from the Seasiders' 2-0 defeat at the hands of Blackburn Rovers.

Protests took centre stage

There was only one real talking point from yesterday's game and that was the action outside the ground, rather than in. The BBC estimated around 1,000 supporters representing both clubs took part in the protest outside Ewood Park both before and during the game - which sent out a clear message to the wider football world. Just six years ago a crowd of 27,000 watched the two clubs do battle at Ewood Park in the Premier League. On Saturday, just over 9,000 were officially inside the ground - 1,605 of them Blackpool fans - in a real sign of the disenfranchisement among the two sets of supporters. The football authorities must stand up and take notice but I predict those who want them to act will be forced to wait with bated breath.

The game was a damp squib

You might not have noticed, but a game of football did eventually break out at Ewood Park - but only just. It was a drab affair and as an FA Cup contest, it was the opposite of Blackpool's two previous fixtures against Barnsley in the last round. The Seasiders didn't necessarily play poorly but the tie was as good as over after 20 minutes, with Sam Gallagher capitalising on some hesitant goalkeeping from Sam Slocombe to head into an empty net before Elliott Bennett put the tie to bed with a stunning 30-yard effort. Gary Bowyer's men deserve credit for battling on against higher league opposition, especially when they were reduced to ten men following Kelvin Mellor's dismissal, but Pool never looked like causing an FA Cup shock for the second round running.

Defeat may be a blessing in disguise

As we enter February, Blackpool are now out of all the cup competitions and have 20 league games left to make something of their season. The Seasiders aren't in the best of form, having only won one of their last eight games (and that was the extra time win against Barnsley), and they've now dropped six points below the League Two play-offs. February brings seven games which could go a long way to deciding their fate come the end of the season. While you never want to lose game, yesterday's defeat means Bowyer's men can concentrate solely on their league campaign rather than being distracted by the FA Cup, which admittedly has been one positive of their season to date.

Defensive reinforcements are a must

The transfer window slams shut on Tuesday night, giving Bowyer just a couple of days to tie up any final business. Blackpool were in need of another defender or two even before the Blackburn game but that need has only intensified after Kelvin Mellor's red card, which will see him miss out Saturday's game against Colchester through suspension. The ill discipline Mellor showed for his red card was surprising in the manner of which he received two needless bookings in the space of just five minutes. The second yellow is debatable but once you've already been booked, you're asking for trouble when you go flying into a 50-50 challenge. Pool only really have Eddie Nolan to bring in but if they are to persist with the 3-5-2 formation, a system which involves three centre backs and two wing backs, they will need to add another defender or two to their squad.

Kyle Vassell remains a big miss

It may sound like an obvious point, but Pool's reliance on their top goalscorer has been emphasised since he suffered his injury against Barnsley. Even though the 24-year-old wasn't in the best form before suffering his injury, having not netted in nine games, it's the other qualities that he brings to the table that Blackpool miss so dearly. The forward is so skilled at putting defenders on their backsides and making the ball stick in the final third. Bowyer has tried a number of partnerships in his absence, involving Mark Cullen, Jamille Matt, Armand Gnanduillet and even winger Bright Osayi-Samuel, but he's yet to find the perfect formula. The sooner Vassell returns to the side the better for Pool, otherwise their play-off ambitions may slip from their grasp before they even get started.