A final day thrashing to Posh sounds familiar, but thankfully Blackpool's circumstances are much different nowadays

Blackpool have only shipped five goals twice in the last six years.

Saturday, 7th May 2022, 11:07 pm
Updated Sunday, 8th May 2022, 10:14 am

Read More

Read More
Peterborough United 5-0 Blackpool: Excellent first season back in the Championsh...

Funnily enough, on both occasions Peterborough United were the opponents, London Road was the venue and both encounters came on the final day of the season.

Thankfully, unlike in 2016 when the second of Blackpool’s back-to-back relegations was confirmed, there was nothing on the line on this occasion. But that’s still no excuse.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

In terms of losing by a five-goal margin, you have to go back to January 2015, when the Seasiders famously squandered a two-goal half-time lead to lose 7-2 to Watford - a side they will be facing in the Championship again next season.

Back then, at the height of the fight against the Oystons and with the club in turmoil both on and off the pitch, defeats like that were almost expected.

But that’s what makes this defeat so shocking, because no-one saw it coming. For one, it’s not like they were facing one of the division’s better sides like Fulham, because Peterborough had already been relegated.

But two, the Seasiders are known for their defensive organisation and their ability to stay in games - very rarely have they been well beaten this season, if ever.

This was not the way Neil Critchley and his players wanted to end the campaign

Even when the scoreline suggests they have been comprehensively beaten, I’m thinking about the defeats to Luton, Huddersfield and Forest, it didn’t exactly tell the whole story. Blackpool were still in those games and at least showed a bit of fight.

But on this occasion, there was none of that. The Seasiders were absolutely miles off it and, if we’re being brutally honest, five was probably the minimum they deserved to ship.

Prior to Posh’s opener, which didn’t arrive until the 36th minute, goalkeeper Chris Maxwell - Blackpool’s best performer on the day, which is always a worry - had already made five important stops.

Once the second went in just after the hour mark, the first of two from Sammie Szmodics, the floodgates well and truly opened.

Posh played their way through Blackpool at will and got in behind the back four, especially down both flanks, on a frankly embarrassing number of occasions.

This was the worst I’ve seen Blackpool play under Neil Critchley and it says a lot that even he was questioning his players “application”, something he’s never done before.

It’s easy to point the finger at Critchley and his decision to make wholesale changes and leave a number of players back at home, namely players like Kenny Dougall, Keshi Anderson, Josh Bowler, Shayne Lavery and Gary Madine.

In total, I worked out that 15 players - who we’d realistically consider to be first-team and in contention for the squad - were absent, either through injury or otherwise. That’s naturally going to have an effect.

But how many times have we seen over the last two years where the Seasiders have 10 or 11 players out injured, yet the players that come in fit in seamlessly and the team as a whole are still able to produce the goods?

While the bench was largely made up of youth-team players - and I’ve no issue with that, by the way - the first XI was still a strong enough side to get a result, never mind lose 5-0.

To save Blackpool’s worst display of the season and their heaviest defeat of the season to the final day leaves a sour taste in the mouth, which is a huge shame because the season has been such a good one.

To finish in 16th and 23 points clear of the bottom three should still be celebrated. Once the dust settles and emotions settle down a bit, that will still be the overriding summary of the season.

But the supporters that left the Fylde coast in the early morning to make it to Peterborough in time for the lunchtime kick-off, and there were plenty of them, deserved better than this.

Despite the scoreline, Critchley, his staff and his players were still serenaded come full-time by the fans who had decided to stay and applaud the team off the pitch for the final time this season. How many other set of supporters would do that, by the way?

But it was pretty clear the show of appreciation was for the season as a whole and not this game in isolation, because applause was the last thing they deserved and the players knew it.

The only other positive was the debuts handed to two of the youth-team’s rising stars Luke Mariette and Jake Daniels.

It was far from ideal circumstances to be making their professional bows, but it was a proud moment nevertheless and a reward for an excellent season for the Under-19s, whose season ended with a cup final win last week.

I suspect we’ll be seeing a lot more of them over the summer in Blackpool’s pre-season friendlies - Jack Moore, Tayt Trusty, Joe Strawn and Rob Apter, too.

Blackpool have got a long way to go if they’re going to realise their long-term aim of progressing their own youngsters into the first-team on a regular basis, but this is a positive move in the right direction.

That’s a phrase that can also be applied for the club as a whole, which shouldn’t be lost in the disappointment of this final day defeat.

But there’s every chance next season will be every bit as hard, if not more so, for Blackpool to continue establishing themselves in the second tier. That’s why it’s absolutely imperative the club gets its recruitment spot on this summer.