Cambridge 0-0 Blackpool: Five things we learned

Kyle Vassell tussles for the ball
Kyle Vassell tussles for the ball

Blackpool FC writer Matt Scrafton takes a look at the key talking points from the Seasiders' hard-earned and controversial 0-0 draw at Cambridge.

The referee had a mare

It wasn't a "soft" penalty, it was just a horrendous decision. Tom Aldred did what all good defenders are taught to do and got his body across to see off Cambridge's Conor Newton, who then went flying to the deck. Darren Drysdale bought it and not only pointed to the spot, but also gave Aldred a straight red. Gary Bowyer will appeal the decision and rightfully so. But it wasn't just the penalty, the man in the middle had endured a poor afternoon even up to that point, handing out soft yellow cards and being far too easily influence by the baying home crowd. Thankfully his erratic performance didn't cost the Seasiders the point their hard-earned display deserved.

Slocombe is a real asset

After all the controversy of the mysterious penalty awarding, Sam Slocombe stayed calm and pulled off yet another crucial spot kick save. That was his third penalty save of the season and each has been as important as the last. Slocombe is winning his side points, whether it be from 12 yards or any other save. The former Oxford shot stopper also made two or three other keys saves during the 90 minutes to keep Cambridge at bay to ensure his fourth consecutive away clean sheet. With Kyle Vassell's dip in form, which I touch on below, Sam Slocombe is rapidly becoming Blackpool's player of the season.

Kyle Vassell's form is a worry

It's no coincidence that Blackpool's lack of goals, which has seen them score just three times in their last seven games, has coincided with Vassell's own eight-game goal drought. Normally his all-round game is so impressive it doesn't matter too much if he is finding the back of the net, because he brings so much else to the team. But he struggled against Cambridge. Despite fighting for every loose ball, nothing really came off for him. In defence of Vassell, Blackpool shouldn't be so reliant on one man's form to get their goals and others, like Mark Cullen and Jamille Matt, need to step up and chip in with goals of their own.

Goals aren't going in at either end

As already mentioned, Blackpool have now only scored three goals in their last seven games. At the other end of the spectrum, they've only conceded four in eight games - a run which has included keeping four clean sheets in a row on the road. Which statistic is the most significant? It very much depends if your glass is half full or half empty. But Gary Bowyer will certainly be worried with his side's lack of goals, especially when you consider earlier in the season they were firing in three and four seemingly at will. Obviously that sort of run isn't sustainable but we've now seen a complete 180-degree turn. When you look at the scorelines you could be forgiven but thinking the games have been drab and boring, but the 0-0 draws against Cambridge and Barnsley were anything but.

Pool in danger of getting cut adrift

A point away at Cambridge, who are now unbeaten in eight games in the league, cannot be sniffed at. But a quick glance at the table shows Pool dropping down to 12th and five points off Colchester in seventh. Although Pool have a game in hand, they need to get back into the mix as soon as possible starting with their home game against Yeovil next week, although they have their FA Cup third round replay against Barnsley to worry about first. The last thing Blackpool need is to slump into mid-table obscurity by the end of January with very little to play for in the remaining weeks and months of the league campaign.