Boreham Wood 2-1 Blackpool: Five things we learned
Blackpool FC writer Matt Scrafton takes a look at the key talking points from the Seasiders' FA Cup humbling at the hands of Boreham Wood.
Pool on the wrong end of a major cup upset
Other than last season's mini cup run to the fourth round, it's fair to say Blackpool haven't enjoyed the best of records in the FA Cup in recent times - ignoring that famous win back in 1953. But going down to a non-league side is an embarrassment whichever way you look at it. Yes we all love cup upsets and someone has to be on the wrong end of them, but it's not particularly enjoyable when it's your side looking down the barrel. The BBC’s television cameras were in town to whip up some hype ahead of the game but they weren’t there to talk about Blackpool. The focus was all on the non-league side and the potential for a cup upset. In that regard, the BBC producers certainly got what they came for as the home side beat Football League opposition for the first time in their history. The dramatic win was greeted by a pitch invasion of sorts at the final whistle which acted as a reminder of how great this competition this can be. Fair play to the Wood, they deserved it.
Made to pay for missed chances
The main frustration for Bowyer will be that, for all of their dominance in the first half, they didn’t put away the clear-cut chances that came their way. The main culprit, in fact the only culprit of that was midfielder Callum Cooke, who squandered three clear opportunities to break the deadlock. The first was probably the clearest, which came after the on-loan Middlesbrough midfielder played a neat one-two with Danny Philliskirk only to drill his shot narrowly wide of the far post when under no real pressure to take the shot first time. He was played in behind the Boreham Wood defence for a second time but on this occasion it was the home side’s goalkeeper who managed to scramble away his shot from inside the box. The 20-year-old was denied yet again on the stroke of half time with the third and final chance that fell his way. But this time the woodwork came to Boreham Wood’s aid with his drilled shot rebounding off the foot of the post. Had the Seasiders gone into half time (at least) 2-0 ahead, as they ought to have done, then surely there would have been no way back for the non-league side.
Defensive errors proved costly
I've already spoken at length about Blackpool's ever-growing injury list and the damage it has done in regards to their recent form, so I won't bore you to death by talking about it again. But when you're without your first choice centre backs, as the Seasiders were yesterday with Clark Robertson out injured and Curtis Tilt suspended, it's bound to make a difference irrespective of the opposition. Pool reverted to a back three of Nick Anderton, Will Aimson and Kelvin Mellor and while none of them played particularly poorly, it was only inevitable that Gary Bowyer's men were going to miss Robertson's calmness on the ball and Tilt's dominance at the back. The two goals that Boreham Wood were certainly avoidable. Substitute Blair Turgott was left completely unmarked just outside the six-yard box to side foot home with his first touch of the game. Where was the marking? And what happened with the corner at the end which led to Dan Holman bundling home on the line is beyond me. Just clear your lines. Blackpool didn't and it cost them dearly.
One positive to take away
The major positive to take away from yesterday's game was the return of Jimmy Ryan to Blackpool's midfield. The Seasiders' have badly missed the 29-year-old's creativity in the three games he was forced to watch on from the sidelines having picked up an injury prior to Pool's 2-1 league win against Bury last month. He came through the game unscathed having completed almost 80 minutes and that will do his fitness the world of good ahead of Pool's next game against Portsmouth next weekend. The former Fleetwood man was deployed in a more advanced midfield role with Jay Spearing the one playing from deep - so it will be interesting to see how that partnership develops in future weeks. Kyle Vassell is also expected to be in contention for next weekend's league game so, whisper it quietly, but Pool might be over the worst of their little injury crisis.
Looking at the larger picture
It seemed strangely apt that, on the eve of what could prove to be one of the most important days in the club’s history, Blackpool suffered one of their most embarrassing defeats. The club’s hierarchy head back to the capital tomorrow, two days on from Pool’s humbling at Boreham Wood, to discover the judgement of the explosive and bitter High Court case between the Oyston family and the club’s president Valeri Belokon. For many Blackpool fans it is hoped a verdict in favour of the Latvian could see the Oystons forced to pay upwards of £20m in what could prove to be the final trigger to force regime change at Bloomfield Road. If that proves to be the case, and it certainly isn’t out of the realms of possibility, one of the club’s final acts under Oyston ownership could be an embarrassing defeat to non-league opposition. But it just goes to show how badly the football club has been run that this particular cup humbling barely makes the top of the list of embarrassments that have befallen the club in recent times.