Ben Burgess column: Season building to grand finale

Ben Burgess
Ben Burgess
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What an excellent performance by the Seasiders last week.

With home form not being particularly strong and the pressure piled on the Tangerines to stay in the play-offs, they played with great freedom and creativity against Cheltenham.

A large part of that was down to manager Gary Bowyer and his tactical choices.

In the last two games, Blackpool have used different personnel and different formations, both resulting in impressive victories.

To get League Two players to play effectively in different formations can be a real struggle and that’s why some have difficulty adapting when they change to three at the back.

Bowyer has clearly put a lot of work in on the training ground with the players, so they are adaptive to different situations.

Having that flexibility in both system and players will hopefully prove even more beneficial in the last few games.

The game against Cheltenham was a real contrast in styles. For the first 10 minutes, Cheltenham’s direct approach to their 6ft 4in striker and 6ft 5in winger was effective and the Seasiders were penned in their area.

Eventually Blackpool’s extra man in midfield began to show and Neil Danns and Jack Payne were controlling play.

And the three players up front – Colin Daniel, Nathan Delfouneso and Mark Cullen – were terrorising the Robins’ young defenders.

Daniel, in particular, really impressed me with his energy and quality in the final third.

He produced two assists and showed plenty of composure for Danns’ goal.

The victory has taken Blackpool back up to sixth but there are still three teams directly outside the play-off positions waiting to take advantage of any slips.

On the subject of slips, AFC Fylde avoided one by finally gaining a much-deserved promotion to the National League.

They comfortably beat Boston 3-0 on an extremely poor playing surface to seal their number one spot over Kidderminster.

Anyone who has had the pleasure to visit Mill Farm can only be impressed with the facilities and ambition the club is showing.

They clearly see themselves as a Footbal League club, and with some quality additions to their squad they could make a real push next year to reach League Two.

Those potential new players will need little convincing when they see everything at Mill Farm, and the ground has plenty of space to build and increase capacity.

Compare that with players Blackpool will want to sign – I can assure you the club tends not to show prospective signings around the training ground at Squires Gate.

When I signed, I was shown around the stadium, and then told all about the plans for Bloomfield Road and all the work that was going to happen.

When I eventually turned up at Squires Gate after signing I couldn’t believe it was the same place I’d played as a 14-year-old for Everton. I hadn’t been impressed with it and I was still at school.

Obviously, the last two games are important for Blackpool but Fleetwood’s last fixture is even bigger.

They’ve managed to hang on to Bolton’s coat-tails all season and now find themselves two points behind.

Their comeback to beat Gillingham last week was a fantastic effort and showed that those players, who are so well drilled by Uwe Rosler, are not quite ready to give up on their automatic promotion hopes just yet.

Fingers crossed they beat Port Vale at home on Sunday and Bolton lose to Peterborough.

The respective PFA Teams of the Year were announced this week and the one Blackpool player to feature in the League Two team was Kelvin Mellor, who has contributed numerous goals and assists this season and also defended excellently.

I’m sure a few of his team-mates were close to making it as well.