Blackpool 1-3 Wigan: Five things we learned
Blackpool FC writer Matt Scrafton takes a look at the key talking points from the Seasiders' 3-1 defeat to Wigan Athletic.
Pool beaten by the better side
There are times in football where you just have to hold your hands up and accept you’ve been beaten by the better side. On Saturday that was the case as League One title favourites Wigan Athletic came from behind to pick up the three points at Bloomfield Road - the first time the Seasiders have been beaten on home turf this season. It wasn’t particularly difficult to see why the Latics are so fancied this season and it’s fair to say whoever finishes above them will most probably clinch promotion themselves. They are solid at the back and have the quality all over the pitch to punish sides. In Nick Powell, Michael Jacobs, Max Power, Dan Burn and Ivan Toney, the Latics boast a squad full of players who really should be playing in the Championship - and that's where I'd expect them to be playing next season. Pool could only muster a single shot on target all afternoon, and that was down to the way Wigan stopped them playing. In that regard, the Seasiders can have no complaints.
Costly defensive mistakes
The most frustrating thing to take away from the game was the ease in which Wigan ran in their three goals. The first two - both from defender Chey Dunkley - were gifts that could and should have been avoided. The tangerines failed to clear their lines and on both occasions he was presented with simple tap-ins from inside the six-yard box. The third, a smart finish from the left boot of former Blackpool man David Perkins, came after substitute Armand Gnanduillet had given the ball away halfway inside his own half. Those sort of mistakes will be punished by your average League One side, never mind one that would probably avoid relegation in the Championship would they to be playing in it this season. But for as good as Wigan were, they didn’t have to carve Blackpool open and they didn’t have to rely on any wonder strikes from range - and that was the biggest disappointment for Pool boss Gary Bowyer.
Losing Vassell is a costly blow
While Pool's defensive mistakes will have been the biggest disappointment for Bowyer, the injury Kyle Vassell suffered just 25 minutes into the first half won't be far behind. While the full extent of his injury is not yet known, it's fair to say it presents Bowyer with something of a headache. With second in command Mark Cullen out with an injury of his own until January, who exactly is supposed to come in and fill the void? Max Clayton was the man who came off the bench to replace Vassell on Saturday but it was fair to say Bowyer wasn’t too enamoured with his performance seeing as he substituted the substitute with 10 minutes still left to play. Armand Gnanduillet has barely featured this season but he’s probably the only one capable of playing that hold-up role on his own, while Danny Philliskirk and Scott Quigley are two others who are unlikely to be relied upon to start every week.
Bowyer not hiding behind excuses
The game was played in horrendous conditions as Storm Brian battered the Fylde coast with high winds and torrential rain. In fact the conditions were so bad it forced AFC Fylde’s National League home match against Maidstone to be abandoned shortly into the second half. But Bowyer - who was the first to accept his side's defensive mistakes were the main reason for the defeat - refused to use the weather as an excuse. But, while he rightly says the conditions were the same for both sides, they clearly had an impact on the game. A lot has been made of the way Blackpool want to play this season, with their attractive style of play starting from the back, but that was made virtually impossible. The conditions were so bad, especially in the first half, there were a few farcical occasions where the goalkeeper's kicks flew straight into the sky, only to get caught up in the wind and spin backwards. But to be fair to the oft-criticised Bloomfield Road pitch, it held up well and there was never any chance of the game being abandoned.
Pool's squad to be pushed to the limit
Blackpool have a small enough squad as it is, so when injuries occur they're always going to have an impact. The Seasiders were without Jimmy Ryan and Clark Robertson - two of their most important players - and their absences were keenly felt. Jay Spearing was brought in to play alongside Jimmy Ryan and yet they've only played together for 60 minutes (at Walsall). Ryan is integral to the way Blackpool want to play and for all of Sessi D'Almeida's energy and effort, he's never going to bring the same sort of qualities. Through nobodies fault, Spearing has been fast-tracked into Blackpool's starting line-up - playing three times in a week - despite not featuring for the last six months. Meanwhile in defence, Robertson and Curtis Tilt have struck up an impressive partnership at the back for Blackpool and again, they just don't have the squad depth to be able to replace players like-for-like and not suffer for it. Including cup ties, Pool have seven games in November and it's fair to say their squad is being pushed to the limit just at the wrong time.