Should Stoke City's matchwinner Steven Fletcher still have been on the pitch? Blackpool boss Neil Critchley has his say

Neil Critchley felt Stoke City’s match winner Steven Fletcher could have been sent off for a “blatant” kick out during tonight’s game against his Blackpool side.

Wednesday, 3rd November 2021, 10:47 pm
Updated Wednesday, 3rd November 2021, 11:10 pm

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Blackpool 0-1 Stoke City: Steven Fletcher goal spells the end of the Seasiders' ...

The striker was only shown a yellow card after swiping Jordan Gabriel to the floor by the touchline in front of the away fans.

Fletcher was one of five Stoke players to be booked during a first-half in which Blackpool dominated.

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Blackpool boss Neil Critchley

But Critchley’s men were unable to capitalise on their dominance and the Potters responded well in the second-half, eventually scoring 11 minutes from time when Fletcher bundled home from close range.

The result brought an end to Blackpool’s three-game winning run, the Seasiders losing for just the second time in their last nine outings.

“There was nothing in the game,” Critchley said.

“As I say on a regular basis, there’s a very fine line between winning and losing and I thought we were good in the first-half and we were the better team.

“We played some really good football and we controlled the game and had one or two good opportunities.

“In the second-half, Stoke improved and were better, but really in truth the game should be 0-0.

“The goal we give away is a really poor goal to concede, it’s a lapse in concentration because we’ve had long enough to set up and defend it and we didn’t and that’s what has cost us the game.

“We had a real go at trying to equalise, but we were playing against a team that’s got five at the back and have some big, physical players and it’s not easy to break them down.

“The fact they conceded three goals in five minutes at the weekend doesn’t help because there’s always a reaction and it just sharpens their senses a little bit.

“They obviously had something to hold onto and I thought they did that well, but we had one or two opportunities and it wasn’t for the want of trying.

“A bit of better decision-making in the final third would have helped, but the fact we’ve been more than competitive against a very good Stoke team, I can take a lot of heart from.”

The fact Stoke’s winning goal came via Fletcher was a bitter pill to swallow for Blackpool’s head coach.

“I don’t like shouting too much when it’s on the far side because it was the opposite side of the pitch to where I am, because you’re never certain,” Critchley said.

“But it looks like he’s running towards the touchline and he blatantly kicks out at Jordan Gabriel.

“If you kick out at an opponent when the ball’s not near in play, then that’s a red card.

“I didn’t want to make a big thing about it on the touchline because you’re never certain, but he’s kicked him and you can’t kick someone like that.

“They had five bookings in the first-half and that was testament to the way we were playing that they had to drag a few of us down in counter-attacking situations.

“You could call it game management, but I call it blatant fouls and they were rightly booked.”

Critchley also believes his Blackpool side had a good shout for a late penalty when substitute Gary Madine appeared to be hauled to the ground inside the box.

“I’d have to see it back but I did shout for it. From the side it looked like a genuine shout,” he said.

“It seems he loses the flight of the ball and he turns his back away from it and obviously panics a little bit and maybe grabs him or pulls him down.

“I’d have to see it again, but my first reaction was ‘that could be a penalty’.”

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