AFC Wimbledon 2-0 Blackpool: Five things we learned
Blackpool FC writer Matt Scrafton takes a look at the key talking points from the Seasiders' dire defeat at the Kingsmeadow.
Seasiders can have no excuses this time
In recent defeats, such as the 1-0 reversal at Oxford United, Blackpool were able to use the ready-made excuse that they performed well and deserved more. But at AFC Wimbledon on Saturday, no such excuses were available to them. They were dire and got exactly what they deserved. The Dons, an honest, hard-working outfit, were more than worthy of their three points. Lyle Taylor led the line admirably, giving Will Aimson and Kelvin Mellor a torrid afternoon. Cody McDonald added guile while they were backed up by a calm and composed midfield – which begs the question what Neal Ardley’s team were doing in the bottom four in the first place. But the Wombles are now up to 19th, just a couple of points off Blackpool who have slipped dangerously close to the dropzone. But it’s fair to say it’s been coming; they've picked up just eight points from a possible 36 after all. The longer that form continues, a relegation battle is on the cards whether Blackpool like it or not. Their main focus for the foreseeable future is to keep their heads above that dreaded relegation line.
New forward line offered so much, but failed to deliver
Blackpool supporters will have thought their team was onto a winner when they saw the names of Kyle Vassell and Dan Agyei on the Seasiders’ team sheet. It made a refreshing change to see two strikers played up top; two players that ought to test any defence in League One. Yet that never transpired and Wimbledon’s backline won’t be given an easier afternoon all season. Vassell, still the club’s top scorer with eight goals, made his return from a hamstring injury that has kept him out of Blackpool’s last eight fixtures in league and cup. Agyei, meanwhile, made his debut alongside Vassell in attack having signed from Lancashire neighbours Burnley on Thursday. The Seasiders have been desperately lacking in the forward department in recent weeks, badly missing Vassell and Mark Cullen and crying out for reinforcements in the January transfer window. At the Kingsmeadow on Saturday, Blackpool were given the luxury of both – although they still remain without Cullen. The duo promised so much yet ultimately they failed to deliver, but they weren’t helped by their team-mates’ lack of creativity. It is telling that Pool’s only shot on target, a fairly weak effort from Agyei that the goalkeeper easily claimed, came as early as the seventh minute. For the next 83 minutes, Blackpool huffed and puffed without ever seriously dangering the Wimbledon goal.
Joe Lumley deserves sympathy
Other than second half substitute Viv Solomon-Otabor, Lumley is probably the only Blackpool player to come out of the game with any credit. The QPR loanee continues to exude confidence, something lacking in his predecessors. It was just a shame those in front of him couldn't give him any protection. There was little he could do to stop either of Wimbledon's goals. In fact, the 22-year-old was badly let down by his defence when he made a superb save to deny Cody McDonald after the Dons striker was sent through on goal. But his teammates didn't react, allowing Liam Trotter to tap home into an empty net from the rebound. For the second, Lumley again was given no chance as Wimbledon debutant Joe Pigott smashed home into the roof of the net. Not for the first time, there were question marks over how Blackpool's backline allowed the former Maidstone man to get in behind so easily. The Seasiders struggled to deal with their opponents from the very get-go. Mellor, who continues to look uncomfortable playing on the right of a back three, was worryingly under-par while his defensive partner Will Aimson also had a game to forget.
D'Almeida needs to work on composure
Sessi D'Almeida had a fairly bright first half, but found himself hauled off at the interval to be replaced by Callum Cooke. Others were surprised, but I wasn't. You can never fault the midfielder's energy or desire, nor his willingness to break forward from midfield, but at this level you need a bit more than that. He's in danger of becoming a bit of a headless chicken, renowned for 'putting a shift in', running around and doing little else. On a couple of occasions he received the ball in promising positions in between Wimbledon's backline and their midfield and, with options either side of him, opted to go alone and shoot from distance. Not for the first time in recent weeks, his efforts ended up flying well over or wide of goal. Ever since his wonder strike against Middlesbrough U21s in the Checkatrade Trophy, D'Almeida seems to think he's a bit of a lower league Frank Lampard who is capable of finding that top corner every time he launches a strike from afar. He just needs to calm down, get his foot on the ball, find a teammate and get in the box. Just do the simple things well.
Farcical scenes off the pitch only add fuel to the fire
Saturday's defeat brought an end to another ridiculous, nonsensical week at Bloomfield Road. Owen Oyston watched on from the directors’ box at Wimbledon, conspicuously sat apart from from his grandson Sam who has, of course, been recently appointed the club’s chief executive. It is an appointment that prompted further speculation of a family rift. On one hand there is Owen, still peddling the same old line about being a diehard Blackpool fan, not wanting to relieve his grip on the football club while on the other, his son Karl who seems to have come to his senses and wishes to wash his hands of the club. One can only have sympathy with Gary Bowyer for attempting to sheer the ship in the right direction when the rug continues to be pulled from underneath him. As the Pool boss promised in his pre-match press conference, Mellor started in defence despite rumoured interest from Bradford City. But it seems just a matter of time until the 26-year-old is lining up at Valley Parade. The latest news is that club captain Jimmy Ryan, who was left out of Blackpool's squad yesterday with a knock, is a target for runaway leaders Wigan Athletic...