Blackpool 1-1 Wycombe (p): Five things we learned

Wycombe players celebrate after their penalty shootout win.

Wycombe players celebrate after their penalty shootout win.

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Blackpool FC writer Matt Scrafton takes a look at the key talking points from the Seasiders' penalty shootout defeat to Wycombe in the Checkatrade Trophy.

Crowd of 776 hard to believe

There have long been doubts over the official attendances published by the club, but last night's figure of 776 almost seemed like a joke. In fact I joked myself before the game upon seeing the virtually empty stands that the attendance will be given out as 1,000, but my quip nearly turned out to be correct. If there were any more than 400 there I would have been surprised, although 300 looked more likely. Was it just a case of putting out a figure that topped Pool's low attendance for their only other home fixture in the Checkatrade Trophy, which was 760 against Cheltenham back in August?

Bowyer probably won't shed any tears

The Pool boss won't enjoy losing any game of football, but I can't imagine he'll have been too gutted with their penalty shootout defeat. His side contested well, especially in the first half, but faded in the second period as an in-form Wycombe side put the pressure on. The Seasiders weren't helped by injuries to Kelvin Mellor and Bright Osayi-Samuel, but this allowed Bowyer to give a debut to American teenager Sebastien des Pres, who filled in at right back in the absence of Mellor who hobbled off with a dead leg. The competition, which has been deservedly criticised from all quarters, did provide Bowyer with the opportunity to give his fringe players some minutes. But that's the only defence I can make for what is an utterly pointless competition.

MATCH REPORT: Blackpool 1-1 Wycombe (p)

Philliskirk is severely lacking in confidence

I seem to be repeating myself with this particular point but the situation seems to be getting worse, not better. The striker turned midfielder played in a more advanced role last night but still failed to make an impact. He is in dire need of a goal, an assist or anything to give him some confidence. He deserves credit for showing the bravery to step up to take the penalty when Pool were 1-0 up, but his effort was weak and the Wycombe goalkeeper hardly had to move to make the save. That's his second penalty miss of the season and he's still without a goal all season. The former Oldham man was also very fortunate to see his spot kick in the penalty shootout go in, after seeing another weak effort saved by Blackman only for it to spin back and roll over the line.

Mellor is adding goals to his game

Not only is the right back a constant threat down the right flank but he is now an aerial threat in the box from set pieces. His back post effort, that handed his side an early lead, was his fifth goal of the campaign. The defender came to the club with mixed reviews from Crewe fans but he has been one of Pool's most consistent performers this season. He rarely puts a foot wrong in defence and going forward, he's actually one of Pool's most potent weapons. It was a shame to see him hobble off midway through the second half but it is hoped his dead leg won't be too serious and he'll be back in training on Thursday.

Bowyer is turning into the tinkerman

It wasn't along ago Gary Bowyer told reporters he was a traditional 4-4-2 man and didn't fancy experimenting with all these fancy new systems. Will in the last three games he has played in three different formations. The 4-4-2 failed against Mansfield in the league during the 1-0 defeat, leading to the Pool boss implementing an expansive 3-5-2 formation against Barnsley which seemed to suit their counter attacking football. And then last night, Bowyer opted to play a diamond formation which saw Bright Osayi-Samuel and Mark Yeates, who are normally deployed on the wings, used in the two central midfield spots. The new system certainly worked in the first half and I'm sure Bowyer will be satisfied with the mixture of formations at his disposal.