Will Watt: It may only be two games, but the pressure is on

Blackpool manager Neil McDonald

Blackpool manager Neil McDonald

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It was interesting to see Neil McDonald’s reaction when I suggested Blackpool desperately need a win after yet another defeat on Saturday.

“We’ve only played two games, Will,” he replied.

And to McDonald that may well be the case but for the rest of us, it’s much more than that.

Saturday’s defeat at home to Rochdale means Blackpool have now gone seven months without a win – with the last victory coming at the end of January under Lee Clark.

As well as winning just four games in the whole of last season, the Seasiders supporters have witness just seven wins in the last 21 months.

With that in mind you would like to think 
McDonald could sympathise with just why even the most positive of reporters is 
desperately losing the will to live.

It hasn’t half been a slog, and for that reason Blackpool really do need a victory very quickly if this young group of players are to stand a chance of keeping, or winning, the support of Blackpool’s fans.

And while creating chances may well please the new coaching staff, it really isn’t enough for the now long-suffering supporters of Blackpool.

I won’t even mention the fact five years ago this weekend the club were at the very top of the Premier League having beaten Wigan 4-0!

On Saturday Blackpool weren’t a million miles away from Rochdale, and I can’t really disagree with McDonald’s assessment that it was a case of one side taking their chances, and the other not.

But the fact we are now happy to have simply created chances is really difficult for Blackpool’s supporters to take – they need much more than that to gain hope.

McDonald once again said he needs ‘two or three’ players to add to his squad, and if he can get those maybe the shaky start has been perfect timing.

Anyone who’d doubted this squad is short has been proven right, and when Karl Oyston returns from his ban this week he must help his manager by adding to the squad quickly.

I must say it’s only adding to, unlike last season I don’t think a whole new team is needed.

There are bright sparks in the squad, with youngsters Henry Cameron and Bright Samuel once again showing signs they can well be a threat.

On Saturday there was no surprise no surprise McDonald chose to abandon the 4-3-3 formation which failed miserably on Tuesday night at Northampton, instead returning to the more solid-looking 4-4-2.

The game also saw Pool revert to the line-up which started so brightly on the opening day, apart from injured keeper Colin Doyle who was replaced by Kyle Letheren.

Strangely Doyle, despite being injured, took the warm-up as Pool are yet to sort the issue of having no goalkeeper coach after two walked out last week.

There was a strange atmosphere inside Bloomfield Road, with the East Stand closed and Rochdale’s travelling thousand in the North Stand, but it started a very pleasant one.

Before the game there was a minutes applause for popular former stadium announcer Chris Hull, who was rightly given a rousing send off by the club.

Impressively, I’m told the 500 or so protesting fans outside of the West Stand halted their protests against the Oystons for a moment of applause of their own – a nice touch.

And it would appear the friendly atmosphere spread on to the field in the opening stages, with neither team really getting to grips with the game.

Pool struggled to deal with Rochdale’s long and direct style, creating very little of their own in the opening stages.

It took ten minutes for the game’s first chance, and it fell to the away side as Peter Vincenti found the side netting after meeting a neat pass from Ian Henderson.

The best way to describe the encounter in the opening stages was probably very League One with neither side showing much in terms of quality, and the midfield battle being key.

As the half-hour mark passed there was very little in terms of note, barring a long-range effort from Rochdale’s Donal McDermott.

The midfield man was plucked from Northern Premier League side Ramsbottom United in the summer and looked to be a real threat all afternoon, we’ll hear more about him later.

At this point Blackpool hadn’t created a chance, although were making inroads on the wings, particularly on the right with Cameron and Emmerson Boyce were combining well without ever really finding the finishing touch.

I think once Boyce is fully fit the sight of him bursting forward may well become quite a regular thing.

Just before the break came another chance for Pool, when Mark Cullen slipped in between two defenders before forcing a save from keeper Josh Lillis.

It was to be the Rochdale man’s only save of the afternoon.

After the break, the excitement levels raised a little, with Blackpool starting with much more spring in their step.

Pool won plenty of set-pieces around the area but couldn’t make any of them count, with poor delivery often letting them down.

Sadly the bright start would count for nothing and Rochdale found themselves ahead just before the hour mark.

A routine through ball from Callum Camps split Pool’s defence in half and McDermott was able to run clear and smash a left-footed effort past Letheren to break the deadlock.

It left Pool a real mountain to climb, but first they had to ride a storm.

McDonald in midweek talked about the need for Blackpool not to concede in quick succession, and to be fair they managed to hold strong despite an onslaught.

Although they needed a slight bit of luck, especially when Cameron had to be alert to clear a Vincenti effort off the line in the 73rd minute.

Blackpool huffed and puffed without ever causing major threat, although Brad Potts will be disappointed not to score with two very decent chances.

First he combined with Cameron before firing straight at the keeper, before the pair combined again for Potts to head wide after 80 minutes.

The second chance was Pool’s best of the game, with Potts meeting a perfect right-wing cross, he really should have a least hit the target.

Eight minutes later the game was over, and you have to say it was terrible from Pool’s point a view.

A long punt forward was totally misjudged by Jones, allowing Henderson to score with the coolest of finishing.

It’s a goal the Liverpool loan man won’t want to see again, but will undoubtedly learn from.

In the end it was another defeat for the Seasiders and now three games for McDonald without a win.

For the new boss it may not be a big deal, with progress being made in his eyes, but for the rest of us the season has continued in the way last season ended.

Blackpool need to start to win football matches, sooner rather than later.