Blackpool 1 MK Dons 0: Five things we learned
One goal proved enough for Blackpool to get their first points on the board in League One this season.
Sean Longstaff’s early effort proved enough for the Seasiders to see off MK Dons at Bloomfield Road.
Victory could have been more emphatic had it not been for Dons keeper Lee Nicholls but what else did we learn?
Having questioned his positioning for Bradford City’s winner seven days ago, it’s only right to lead off in praise of keeper Ryan Allsop.
With his Dons counterpart forced into all manner of saves at the other end, it would have been easy for Allsop to lose concentration.
Not a bit of it; he might have only made two saves of varying difficulty from Ed Upson and Kieran Agard but he remained sharp throughout.
Even when the visitors put pressure on Blackpool towards the end, his handling remained resolute and justified his recall ahead of Ben Williams.
Off and running
Although Gary Bowyer’s players had performed admirably in their opening two matches, there’s nothing like being rewarded for a job well done.
Following the defeats at Bradford and Wigan Athletic, there was the feeling that the Seasiders would play worse this season and win.
While this wasn’t necessarily the case on Saturday - the defending was much better for a start - the three points were more than welcome.
A season-starting schedule of Bradford, Wigan and MK Dons was always going to be a test for a new-look Blackpool side; it’s one they have passed in promising fashion.
Bowyer’s programme notes outlined the view that work has to be done at both ends of the pitch based on the first week of the season.
Chances were created - if not always taken - while the manager also called on his players to defend better in certain situations.
Saturday’s victory showed 50 per cent of that had been taken on board with a first clean sheet of the campaign.
At the other end, while Nicholls made good saves from Bright Osayi-Samuel and Jimmy Ryan, opportunities were spurned that could have made for a more comfortable victory.
The virtue of versatility
With an injury list which includes Kelvin Mellor, Callum Cooke, Kyle Vassell, Jamille Matt and Jim McAlister, Pool’s players need to be adaptable.
Three games in and, so far, three different formations have been used as Bowyer works with what he has available.
Nobody exemplified that more on Saturday than Colin Daniel, moved inside from the left wing to a role in central midfield.
Longstaff might have hogged the headlines for his goal but Daniel was arguably Pool’s star player for being tactically astute, calm in possession and strong in the tackle.
Pace to burn
One thing has been clear from the opening three games; Bowyer has two real threats at his disposal in Osayi-Samuel and Viv Solomon-Otabor.
Their pace and direct running proved a real eye-opener both for Wigan and MK Dons over the course of a few days.
Deployed as two of a front three along with Mark Cullen - who isn’t exactly slow either - it gave Pool a real outlet on the counter.
That was best exemplified when Osayi-Samuel ran 60 yards, leaving an opponent for dead before finding a team-mate inside the opposition area - only for the chance to go begging.