Fans’ panel: A week of two halves

Tom Ince's second half shot against Nottingham Forest comes back off the post.
Tom Ince's second half shot against Nottingham Forest comes back off the post.
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Our fans’ panel reflects on an up and down week for the Seasiders, though new hero Tom Ince is on the up and up ...

PETER GILLATT

THE entertaining encounter against Forest was another classic example of why football is so exciting and uncertain.

We probably got more than we deserved against Doncaster Rovers on Tuesday, less that we deserved on Saturday – but it all comes down to luck and inches.

We had four or five golden chances in the second half, but every time the ball was just inches from where it needed to be – hit the post for Ince, just behind Phillips, just too high for Shelvey, just out of Evatt’s reach and so on.

While at the other end, three players go for a header and the ball drops at random, a perfect half volley for an attacker, and nothing anyone could do about it. Gutting I agree, but all it tells me is that the two teams were pretty evenly-matched, and a bit of luck either way was going to decide it.

With 13 games gone, Ollie is still striving to get the right blend to his team. Saturday’s starting XI produced a much better display than against Doncaster, so he seems a little nearer.

I’m sure there will be a few tweaks made, Evatt back alongside Cathcart and a fit Grandin to return, before we get to a settled line-up. The encouraging part is that we are only two points away from the play-off places, with the promise of a lot more to come when Ollie gets the mix right.

Man of match: Tom Ince (Forest and Doncaster)

JANE STUART

SO that was the week Tom Ince truly arrived at Bloomfield Road. What a find!

The first hour against Doncaster last Tuesday was truly dreadful and a hangover from the West Ham debacle. We conceded a goal with yet more comedy defending. But then came an injection of young blood into the game, with Ince and McManaman tearing apart our visitors, Ince sealing the win in the sweetest manner with a 94th-minute wondergoal.

The team selection against Forest was an exciting one, with the two aforementioned youngsters and Jonjo Shelvey in the starting line-up. This breath of youth is revitalising Fletch, who looks in his element surrounded by such talent.

Alas, Forest are not as flaky as they once were and it was quite a physical game. How else are teams to cope with the likes of Ince? I suspect Moussi will not be the last player to be dismissed for resorting to fouling Ince. It was kind (or very foolish) of Forest to leave Super Kev unmarked, and he took his goal well. But, we returned the favour and let them back in for all three points.

An up and down week (aren’t they all?). I just can’t wait to see more of the new Blackpool youth.

Man of match: Tom Ince (Forest and Doncaster)

FIONA MARTIN

IN football, managers live and die by their decisions. Some they get right, some they get wrong. But whatever the case, it is their job and their prerogative to do so. Ian Holloway is no different. And it’s been a week of decisions.

A decision to change the starting XI against Doncaster didn’t work, but the triple substitution did. We suddenly found space, movement and were keeping the ball much better. With Tom Ince and Callum McManaman running at them, Taylor-Fletcher and Phillips were finding space to pull the strings. A wonderful footballing equaliser topped off with a stunning winner was not what we deserved on the first-half showing, but it was three points nonetheless.

On to Saturday, and the decision was to stick with those four up front. We played much better than on Tuesday, but ultimately missed too many chances. When you’ve got your own players clearing off the opposition’s line you know it’s not your day! It was a tough physical game though. Forest were big and strong, and keen on slowing the game down.

Again though, it was Tom Ince that caused the problems, until Ollie made the decision to take him off. Perhaps with him went a little of our momentum.

Attention now needs to turn to Burnley, and a requirement to get our away form back on track.

Man of match: Alex Baptiste (Doncaster), Tom Ince (Forest)

DAVE WHITE

WHAT a strange week this has been. An indifferent performance against Doncaster eventually yielded three points, whereas the game against Forest, where we arguably played better, particularly in a second half which I felt we dominated, brought us no reward.

After a heavy defeat against West Ham, I hoped we would come out all guns blazing against Rovers, but it never really happened, and it wasn’t much of a surprise that we went into the break one down. However, for quite a while now we have generally looked better in the second half, and so it proved again as a combination of more attacking play, coupled with the introduction of Tom Ince, resulted in two excellent goals.

The reaction to Shelvey being taken off was very interesting, and one that’s not been heard at Bloomfield Road for a long time. I am certainly not one for booing, and prefer to show my appreciation for the player being taken off by standing up and applauding, but each to their own.

Forest provided us with another tricky match on Saturday. They are an extremely physical team but I felt we coped with that aspect of their game quite well; unfortunately we conceded two avoidable goals from set-pieces.

I saw enough in that second half to feel positive about, and we go on now to two away games which would have been the first two away fixtures most of us would have looked for – starting with a massive Lancashire derby match on Saturday.

Man of match: Tom Ince (Forest and Doncaster)

PHIL CORBETT

THREE points from two home games, and arguably, we lost the game we should have won, and won when we were under the cosh.

That’s football for you; it’s the unpredictability of the game itself, and also Mr Holloway’s team selections. I can’t imagine many would have seen both Evatt and Southern missing from the side, as they have been mainstays of the side over the last few seasons. Somehow, the balance of the team isn’t quite right, which is frustrating, as it’s clear we are very close to being a good side.

We’re right in the mix, yet we haven’t particularly played well yet. Little flashes now and then show that the ingredients are almost right, but it’s just a case of getting that right blend. I think we’ll see numerous changes again until the manager is confident that he’s getting the best out of all his squad.

Luck also plays a part. On another day, Kevin Phillips might easily have scored a hat-trick, but missed from a foot out, then blazed a volley well wide.

I do like the look of Ince. Hopefully he’ll be given an extended run in the side and prove his worth. The next game is a derby against Burnley... See you on’t ‘Turf

Man of match: Tom Ince (Forest)

TOM WILSON

PARDON the cliche, but football really is a funny old game.

Following our dreadful midweek showing against Doncaster, where we miraculously managed to win, one of our best performances of the season failed to yield any points on Saturday. Forest were nothing special and didn’t deserve the three points. If Phillips hadn’t blocked Ince’s shot on the line then we’d probably be celebrating two victories in a week!

With every game on a knife-edge, the Championship truly is the most unpredictable league in the world.

Our failure to deal with two set-pieces cost us dear, which once again leaves a large question mark over the defence.

At the other end we posed a threat in attack, which was mainly down to Ollie thankfully breaking the uninspiring central-midfield pairing of Ferguson and Southern. To have an attacking midfielder in the form of Shelvey playing through the middle really paid dividends.

Both he and Callum McManaman have been inspired loan signings and have more influence with each game.

To echo his dad’s quotes, Tom Ince really has been “different class” this week. After inspiring us to victory on Tuesday following his cameo from the bench (and contributing a goal of the season contender), he gave Forest’s defence a torrid time on Saturday and was unlucky not to score.

The vastly underrated Matt Gilks is also an unsung hero.

Next weekend’s Lancashire derby against Burnley is an exciting prospect as we look to keep in touch with the play-off zone.

Man of match: Not supplied

MIKE MORRISON

NOTTINGHAM Forest’s league position did not do them justice on Saturday.

With both a new chairman and manager in charge of the Midlands club, our game against them was something of a journey into the unknown.

And, despite Steve Cotterill’s side taking all three points, Blackpool only have themselves to blame for not getting anything.

Kevin Phillips is still a class act, and his goal was well taken, but he missed a couple of gilt-edged chances that you really would expect a player of his calibre to put away.

Football is an unpredictable and exciting game, and sometimes you are the better side and still end up losing, and that was the case at the weekend.

It will click into play for Blackpool. With Tom Ince and Jonjo Shelvey, we can gain promotion, but it does mean we need to improve. If one player misses a few chances, one of the other nine outfield players needs to pop up and score, and we need to start defending as a unit.

If there’s any team to bounce back against though, it’s Burnley. Floundering in mid-table of the Championship is hard enough to take after last season, I’m not sure I could manage being beaten by the Clarets.

I expect Holloway will use the local rivalry to try and fire up his players over the course of the week, and to teach our newer players just how much this game means to the fans.

Man of match: Tom Ince (Forest and Doncaster)

PLAYER OF THE SEASON

Kevin Phillips - 18

Tom Ince - 13

Gary Taylor-Fletcher - 11

Alex Baptiste - 8

Keith Southern - 5

Matt Gilks - 4

Barry Ferguson - 2

Lomanu LuaLua, Matt Hill - 1

(A player picks up a point for every MoM vote by a panelist)