Fans’ Panel: Going to pieces at set-pieces

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Three goals at home, more get-out-of-jail heroics from Kevin Phillips and then a classic goal by LuaLua... yet all this quality going forward has been overshadowed because Pool have been oh so slack at the back.

And our fans’ panel struggle to make a case for the defence...

PHIL CORBETT

This week has highlighted Blackpool’s biggest flaw. While we are always liable to score at any time, we are also prone to mistakes that cost us goals.

We are streets ahead in the table that lists the teams who show resolve in coming back from a setback, but frustratingly, it’s frequently of our own making.

Against Leicester and Reading, we conceded totally unnecessary goals as a consequence of poor individual decision-making, allowing routine set-pieces to be our undoing.

Against Leicester we were able to muster the firepower to get ourselves back into the game, but it was a step too far against a solid, well organised Reading side.

In both games, Gilks didn’t have a lot to do, yet we contrived to concede six goals. That has to improve from now on or we will fail in our goal of a return to the Premier League.

Ever since Michael Jackson retired we have lacked a vocal organiser at the back, in effect having four individuals in defence rather than a cohesive unit.

As a consequence, when one does switch off we are unable to react and concede cheap goals. Someone needs to step up in defence and take responsibility to organise. Manage that, and we are still well placed to achieve our aim.

Despite the angst about the defence, we mustn’t lose sight of a fantastic goal at Reading by Lua Lua. Goal of the season.

Man of match: Kevin Phillips (Leicester), LuaLua (Reading)

FIONA MARTIN

The obvious stand-out comment about the past week concerns the six goals conceded, but it’s not really as simple as that. I’ve been saying for months we don’t seem to have an average performance in us – it’s generally very good or very bad.

Last Wednesday we seemed to flick between both. In the end, it became a point saved.

On Saturday we just weren’t good enough. I’ve seen us play a lot worse – perhaps we finally got an average performance after all.

We weren’t bad going forward but the midfield really struggled to get into the game. Too careless in possession perhaps.

After a couple of strong performances, it was a surprise not to see Keith Southern in the team.

The goals conceded are the problem at the moment. Can’t put my finger on what it is, but it is so frustrating to watch, especially conceding so many from set-pieces.

Lack of discipline looks to come into it, but whatever it is it needs rectifying as quickly as possible.

We need to move on to Saturday and focus on getting as much from the game as possible.

Southampton don’t perhaps have as much momentum as Reading but I’m in no doubt it will be a very hard game. We can only perform to our maximum.

Man of match: Kevin Phillips (Leicester), Crainey (Reading)

MICHAEL MORRISON

Dusty barbecues, patio furniture sets and gazebos across the Fylde went up at the weekend as we basked in glorious sunshine – it was nearly the perfect weekend. Reading nearly ruined it.

I don’t feel as upset or aggrieved as I normally do when we lose. I think it’s because I was never really expecting us to get a result at Reading, a strange sensation.

Since our remarkable start in the Premier League last season, and especially since our double over Liverpool, I’ve always thought we could potentially beat any team.

But something’s changed recently. Whatever it was, I could never see an out-of-form Blackpool manage anything over than a defeat at a team with the best form in the league. It’s nice to see the penny might have finally dropped with Holloway – our defenders are donkeys. He was quoted as calling his backline “statues”. Has he only just realised this?

And he has finally conceded that we will not finish in the top two. I know he has morale to consider when making statements like that, but come on, we’ve known that was out of the question since September!

If results go against us, we could find ourselves in ninth position, and the way things are going we’ll be lucky to stay there. With seven games left, we’ll be lucky to win two of them: Barnsley and Millwall.

Man of match: LuaLua (Reading, if only for the wonderstrike).

DAVE WHITE

The clocks have gone forward and the sunshine has returned, but the last two results have left us without a spring in our step, as only a late Kevin Phillips equaliser prevented our good win over Brighton being followed up by consecutive defeats.

We got the anticipated tough matches. Leicester are packed with big-name players but struggling to gel as a team, whereas Reading have fewer stars but incredible momentum. Unfortunately, there is one common denominator, which reared its head in four of the six goals we conceded – our defending of crosses was abysmal.

Against Leicester we contrived to allow Nugent a free header from a corner and Beckford had a simple task with nobody challenging him. Lessons to be learned for Reading? Not likely, as Alex Pearce and Mikele Leigertwood, who “couldn’t believe” the amount of time and space he had at headers, helped end our chances at the Madejski Stadium.

There are positives from the week: not losing to Leicester was vital, as they look set for a late push at the top six; Roman Bednar has a goal, hopefully the first of many; and our goal at Reading was about as good a strike as I’ve ever seen from a Blackpool player.

Probably the key positive to the week, however, was the travails all the other play-off-chasing teams also seem to be experiencing. Despite a difficult run of form since beating Doncaster in mid-February, we are still right in the hunt. I believe four wins, two draws and one loss from our final seven games, for a total of 74 points, will be sufficient for that all-important top-six place.

Man of match: Kevin Phillips (Leicester), Crainey (Reading)

PETER GILLATT

Despite taking the lead with an excellent Kev Phillips header, the Seasiders had to rely on the evergreen marksmen to bail them out in injury time against Leicester.

Defensive lapses handed the Foxes two easy second-half goals with non-existent marking for both Nugent’s and Beckford’s close-range headers.

Ollie made defensive changes for the trip to Reading but Pool still managed to ship another three goals with embarrassing ease. Both Leicester and Reading are good, organised sides but not unbeatable, and Pool had plenty of possession in both games. From the off, Reading looked confident and sharper, and they capitalised on Pool’s wooden defending and slow reactions.

Gilks couldn’t be blamed for the Royal’s opener but there wasn’t a Pool player even close to Alex Pearce for his unchallenged header after a quick short corner.

It was left to a LuaLua to produce a single moment of magic with a truly memorable strike that gave Adam Federici no chance. Half-time arrived just as Pool were beginning to get up steam, with some tidy passing only to be let down by the final ball.

When Mikele Leigertwood headed past Gilks, again unmarked, from a Reading free-kick, the game was up and highlighted just how poor our set-piece defending is.

A fine display against an in-form Saints could inspire Pool for the remaining games. However, the Seasiders have now conceded more than Coventry City, who are battling relegation, which is a concern when your about to face the leaders.

Man of match: Kevin Phillips (Leicester), LuaLua (Reading)