Blackpool 2-2 Barnet: Five things we learned
Blackpool FC writer Matt Scrafton takes a look at the key talking points from the Seasiders' 2-2 draw at home to Barnet.
It's official...Blackpool are the league's draw specialists
Last night's 2-2 draw, the third game in a row Blackpool have ended with that scoreline, was their 14th draw of the season - the most of any team in the league. It doesn't take a genius to work out where Blackpool are going wrong as they clearly haven't recorded enough wins to be in with a shout of finishing in the play-offs. Take Stevenage for example, who currently occupy the final play-off spot, they've won 16 games compared to Blackpool's 10. For comparison, Leyton Orient - who are second from bottom - have won eight. Football is a game of fine margins and if you convert a couple of them draws into wins, the Seasiders would be well in there. But they haven't and if we're being honest, aside from a short spell over November time, Pool haven't done enough to be considered genuine contenders for a play-off spot.
Defending continues to leave a lot to be desired
If Pool continue to concede two goals a game, as they have done in each of their last four fixtures, they will continue to give themselves a mountain to climb just to pick up a point, never mind all three. Last night's goals almost summed up their attempts at defending in recent weeks, after not a single Blackpool player reacted to Curtis Weston's deflected shot coming back off the foot of the post, leaving striker John Akinde with a simple tap in while Dean Lyness was left grounded. The second was arguably even worse, with defender Charlie Clough being afforded a free header from a Barnet corner inside Pool's six-yard box - and he duly nodded home. Blackpool have certainly missed the presence of Tom Aldred, whose two-match suspension is now over, but it's not like they weren't conceding soft goals before either. It's a problem that has plagued their season and goes a long way to explain their lowly league position (now 15th).
Soulless 'atmosphere' only makes things worse
When things go wrong it's easy to point the finger at the virtually empty Bloomfield Road, because first and foremost the players deserve the blame - especially for their torrid first half performance when the Bees could and perhaps should have been three ahead. Officially, there were 2,094 in the ground, but with the club counting the 1,500 or so season tickets holders in their official figures - irrespective of whether they turn up or not - the likelihood is there was well below 1,000 in the ground. Compare that to Deepdale on Monday, where over 1,700 attended a Preston FA Youth Cup game. But the lack of atmosphere is clearly affecting the players. It wasn't working out for them in the first half and they desperately needed something to lift them. That wasn't going to come from the terraces though, with the only atmosphere coming from a select group of six or seven Barnet fans in the away end.
Players deserve credit for fighting qualities
After conceding in the last minute against Exeter on Saturday and squandering a 2-0 lead for the second game running, Gary Bowyer questioned the desire and will to win of his players. So it was only right he praised their spirit and character after last night, when it was their turn to fight back from 2-0 down to equalise at the death and earn a point. There was a point in the second half, shortly after Barnet added their second, when it looked like Pool would completely wilt and go on to concede three, four or maybe more. But they didn't, and they deserve respect for fighting back and getting something from a game which had previously looked beyond them. The likelihood is it won't be enough to rescue their season, which now looks doomed to end in mid-table obscurity, but it was a welcome sight seeing Blackpool players fighting and showing battling qualities that at times just haven't been there this season.
Welcome goal and return for Kyle Vassell
It wasn't a pretty goal, but they all count. Blackpool's top scorer, who notched for the first time since November, bagged the all-important equaliser with a tap in when the ball was virtually on the goalline after Clark Robertson's header had come off the post. The thing is with Vassell, even when he's not scoring, he still contributes so much to the team and you could see the lift his presence provided when he came off the bench to replace Jamille Matt. The striker shouted and screamed at his Blackpool teammates in an attempt to rouse them for their slumber, and it worked. That might not sound like much but Pool have severely lacked that sort of leadership since Tom Aldred has been out of the team. It's easy for others to clap their hands to try and get things going, but Vassell leads by example from the front, where he battles for every ball and bullies the opposition defenders.