Blackpool 0-0 Bristol Rovers: Five things we learned
Blackpool FC writer Matt Scrafton takes a look at the key talking points from the Seasiders' stalemate at Bloomfield Road.
Blackpool fail to make dominance pay...again
The Seasiders were the better side, as has been the case so many times in recent weeks, but it is telling that they once again failed to convert their dominance into three points to pick up that long overdue home win. Bristol Rovers seemed happy to play for a point, their manager Darrell Clarke said as much in his post-match interview, but they were the team who went closest to winning it in the final ten minutes. And while Blackpool were the side showing more intent, they could only muster one measly shot on target. But this time Blackpool survived the late pressure and managed to hold on, which is at least an improvement on recent home displays. On another day they could have even nicked it at the death had referee Martin Coy awarded them an 88th minute penalty. Substitute Armand Gnanduillet, who made a real nuisance of himself when he came off the bench, appeared to be brought down inside the box when he nipped the ball past a defender. But the referee emphatically waved away the appeals, leaving Pool to settle for a point that saw the gap to the bottom four reduced to just four points.
Lumley seems to be a safe pair of hands
It is a remarkable statistic that Blackpool have fielded four different goalkeepers in their past seven league matches. While Blackpool's problems in front of goal have been well documented, it's fair to say their goalkeeper conundrum has gone under the radar somewhat. But at least the latest to take the number one jersey, QPR loanee Joe Lumley, looks capable of keeping hold of it until the end of the season having helped Blackpool keep their first clean sheet at home in just under four months. The 22-year-old put in an accomplished display on his league debut to back up his impressive performance against Shrewsbury Town in the Checkatrade Trophy during the week. There was one moment of madness when he rushed 20 yards out of goal to meet a hopeful punt over the top which he was never going to reach. Instead Bristol Rovers’ Rory Gaffney beat him to it, took the ball around him but then could only fire across the face of goal - much to Lumley's relief. But that only seemed to sharpen his focus and he ended the game in fine fettle, making three vital saves to deny the visitors in the dying moments. It was harsh on Christoffer Mafoumbi, who had done little wrong in the two games he played, but everything points to Lumley being the best goalkeeper at the club.
An overdue debut for Roache?
Lumley’s promising debut wasn’t the only one, as Rowan Roache came off the bench ten minutes from time to put in a promising display. The striker, just 17 years of age, has been banging the goals in for fun at youth team level and for some, his first-team debut is long overdue. But Gary Bowyer’s reluctance to throw him into the limelight at such a young age is understandable, but he certainly didn’t do his chances any harm. He expressed a willingness to get on the ball and he showed some bright touches. The only gripe from his manager was that he wasn’t greedy enough in front of goal, instead opting to play in one of his teammates. Blackpool’s current striking crisis gives Roache a chance to stake a claim. With Kyle Vassell not returning for another couple of weeks, Mark Cullen still some way off and Pool struggling to do any business in the transfer window, Bowyer could be forced to work with what he has got. And in Roache, he has got a budding young striker full of confidence who is just waiting to get his chance.
Bowyer sprung a surprise with new system
The Seasiders lined up in a bizarre-looking 3-6-1 formation, with Nathan Delfouneso leading the line but sometimes partnered by Sessi D'Almeida - the most advanced midfielder. It was an unorthodox system but to be fair to Bowyer, it’s one that’s worked before - namely in Blackpool’s crucial 1-0 win at Doncaster Rovers towards the end of last season’s campaign. It's also a system that took Bristol Rovers some getting used to. Despite the change in formation, Blackpool continued to play the same way as they have done for the vast majority of the season, playing the ball out from deep and consequently they dominated possession. Despite seeing all of the ball, the Seasiders struggled to get Jimmy Ryan and Sean Longstaff into the game and it told as Bowyer's men struggled to create any clear-cut chances. Bristol Rovers, who are level on points with Blackpool in the league table, showed little adventure or intention to attack. But they deserve credit for working out Blackpool's formation at the start of the second half, man marking the Pool players and denying them any space. In some respects it should come as no surprise that two such evenly matched sides cancelled each other out.
The club is in crisis - but what's new?
Blackpool Football Club has seen it all in recent times, so it’s fair to say there aren’t many things that happen at Bloomfield Road nowadays that leave you shellshocked. But the departure of chief executive Alex Cowdy, announced less than 60 minutes after yesterday's game, left many aghast. Just five minutes before the three-paragraph statement was posted on the official website, a statement that failed to give a reason for his departure, Cowdy had been seen on his mobile phone in the tunnel while Gary Bowyer was conducting his post-match interviews. Every area of the club is in crisis right now and uncertainty reigns supreme. Club staff are left to speculate what will happen next, who will be the next to go and when - or if - the club will ever be sold. It speaks volumes that, given the dearth of communication from above, most speculation inside Bloomfield Road emanates from internet message boards. The staff are told nothing. Even when the club was officially put on the market back in November, it was left to club staff to pass the message on. The Oystons were too cowardly to hold a meeting and spell out exactly what was happening. Even now, there’s only questions and no answers.