Blackpool 1-3 Grimsby: Five things we learned
Blackpool FC writer Matt Scrafton takes a look at the key talking points from the Seasiders' 3-1 defeat at home to the Mariners.
The Seasiders' defence has been one of their main strengths this season but that certainly wasn't the case on Saturday, where their usual steeliness at the back deserted them at the worst time possible. While there's never a good time to lose two in a row, as Blackpool have now done for the first time this season, doing so with just five games remaining when you're in with a shout of finishing in the top seven is not advisable. This was a Grimsby side who had just been trounced 5-1 by the league leaders Doncaster Rovers on their own turf, but they belied that result to put in a solid display on the Fylde Coast and they showed clinical finishing when chances came their way. But in truth they didn't have to work too hard for their goals because they were gift wrapped and handed to them on a plate by a Blackpool side who were out of sorts and disappointingly under par. All three of Grimsby's goals were avoidable and can be put down to individual mistakes.
It could be worse
Gary Bowyer's men are fortunate that other results went their way and they will start Friday's game against Accrington Stanley two points off the play-offs, just as they were at the start of Saturday's defeat against Grimsby. At one point in the second half on Saturday Pool were five points behind Carlisle, who crumbled at the death to lose to Notts County courtesy of two late goals. Stevenage and Exeter lost as well, but Cambridge and Colchester both won convincingly to draw level on points with the Seasiders. In that respect it was a missed opportunity for Pool who now only have five games remaining to salvage their season and secure a top seven spot. Friday's opponents Stanley are also now only two points off them having won eight out of their last 13 games, drawing the other five.
Payne was best of a bad bunch
The midfielder was the best performer for the second week running but this was a very different performance to his all-action display against Luton the week previous. He did well to keep hold of possession and seemed like the only player who would make things happen for the home side, but he still struggled to get things going. The former Peterborough man has made that central midfield spot his own in recent weeks with a string of eye-catching performances. He can normally be relied upon to bring calmness and composure on the ball but he's now getting stuck in and doing the dirty stuff, which we all know is required at this level. Elsewhere, Bright Osayi-Samuel put in a promising display but found it tough being marked out of the game by two Grimsby players.
Left back conundrum
Andy Taylor has found himself out of Pool's squad altogether in recent weeks following the promising form of Colin Daniel at left back. But the club captain returned to his usual spot against Grimsby but failed to put in a performance which will see him nail down a regular spot. He was beaten to the ball far too easily on more than one occasion and looked to be targeted by Grimsby's forward line. He got caught out by balls over the top time and time again and struggled with Grimsby's physicality. Daniel was pushed forward into a more attacking role but he may find himself back in defence against Accrington. He's done well in this role in recent weeks as it suits his game in terms of bombing forward from deep, but Taylor is undoubtedly the more natural defender. It's a selection headache Bowyer won't have wanted to deal with but he must get it right for Pool's run-in.
Easter fixtures are crucial
In all likelihood Pool will require at least three wins from their remaining five games, if not four, to clinch a play-off spot. But, on the back of suffering back-to-back defeats for the first time this season, they face the league's most in-form side in Accrington this Friday before making the trip to the league leaders Doncaster Rovers the following Monday. Anything less than four points from those two games could spell the end of Pool's season, depending on how results go elsewhere of course. Darren Ferguson's Doncaster side clinched automatic promotion at the weekend but I don't expect them to let up between now and the end of the season, as they will want to finish the season off in style and clinch the title. Accrington, meanwhile, will want to do everything in their power to bag an unlikely play-off spot for the second season running.