'As laboured a contest as you're likely to see': Matt Scrafton's verdict on Blackpool's drab draw at Bolton

Ben Heneghan provided a blunt and honest assessment of Blackpool's display
Ben Heneghan provided a blunt and honest assessment of Blackpool's display
Share this article

It’s fair to say the television cameras are unlikely to come back and film a Blackpool or Bolton Wanderers game in a hurry…

READ MORE: The Gazette's player ratings from Blackpool's goalless draw with Bolton


That’s because last night’s dull-fest was as laboured a contest as you’re likely to see.

One must have sympathy for any neutral, or Blackpool or Bolton fan for that matter, who had to endure the 90 minutes of actionless ‘drama’.

While the struggling Trotters will have been happy enough with their point, one they merited, I must add, the word to sum up Blackpool’s general mood at full-time was “frustrating”.

That’s not just for the exasperated supporters either, the players were equally as annoyed come the final whistle.

If you haven’t seen it, I’d recommend watching Ben Heneghan’s post-match interview.

The centre back, who was one of Pool’s bright sparks, had no interest in dressing up what was a poor, lacklustre and stodgy performance.

The disappointment was etched across his face as he was being questioned and it was clear some choice words had been said among his teammates.

This, of course, might all seem like a bit of an overreaction to what was a draw, not a defeat.

Yes Blackpool were taking on the side that currently prop up the league table in Bolton, who have scored just two goals all season.

But this is a very different Bolton outfit to the one we saw getting regularly thrashed 5-0 earlier in the season, which was at a time when they were only able to field a side full of youngsters.

The Trotters recruited well when their protracted takeover was finally sealed and Keith Hill has cobbled together a good side.

Their recent results prove that, Bolton now drawing with four promotion contenders in Blackpool, Sunderland, Coventry City and Oxford United.

It’s only a matter of time until they earn that first win and all of this must be taken into account.

But it wasn’t necessarily the result that was the issue, it was the nature of Blackpool’s display.

The creativity, not for the first time this season, quite simply wasn’t there. Producing just two shots on target is unacceptable.

Other than Liam Feeney’s shot that grazed the crossbar and Matty Virtue’s blocked attempt, I’m struggling to recall any moments of genuine danger that the home side would have felt.

It’s clear Simon Grayson’s side are missing injured duo Nathan Delfouneso and Sullay Kaikai, who were a major factor in Pool’s exciting displays in the opening games of the season.

The pair bring dynamism and pace to Pool’s frontline, something they were badly lacking at the University of Bolton Stadium.

But their absence should not excuse Monday night’s abject display, because the Seasiders still had more than enough on show to do better.

To Pool’s credit, they were solid defensively as they claimed a fourth clean sheet of the season in fairly comfortable fashion.

Other than a few minor scares, Jak Alnwick and the back four were largely untroubled.

And, as poor as the performance was, the result saw Blackpool climb up to fourth in the league table and extended their unbeaten run to four matches.

I think that’s where the frustration lies, because this squad clearly has quality in it and is capable of challenging for the play-offs this season.

But is the entertainment value on offer of an acceptable standard? Ask most supporters and they will tell you it isn’t.

Other than the 3-1 win at Southend United in the opening month of the season, Pool haven’t been that convincing in any league game they’ve played.

Again, in some ways, that’s a good thing as that shows they’re more than adept at grinding out results.

That’s an important quality to have for any team who wants to get out of the division but you can’t rely on backs-against-the-wall displays every time you take to the pitch, because on certain occasions it won’t go your way.

Pool play well in parts, for 20 or 30-minute periods here and there, and on more than one occasion that has been enough to pick up a result.

And while it’s unrealistic to expect the Seasiders to control games from the first minute to the last, it’s clearly something they need to improve upon.

Blackpool played fairly well in the opening 45 minutes on Monday, creating two or three presentable openings.

They gave themselves a platform to build on for the second period but what followed was dire, there’s no other way to describe it.

There was a point midway through the second half where Bolton looked like they were beginning to tire and, if Blackpool could muster some late pressure, the game appeared to be there for the taking.

But, aside from forcing four late corners in quick succession, no onslaught was forthcoming.

Part of the problem may have been the lack of quality on the bench, with Grayson forced to name four defenders and a 17-year-old striker given his side’s injuries.

Ryan Hardie was the only player to come on and the striker struggled to make an impact, giving the ball away far too needlessly and wasting some promising positions.

Even when everyone is fit, the Seasiders still have a problem when it comes to creating chances.

The return of Delfouneso and Kaikai will provide a boost, but there is still an over-reliance on Liam Feeney who tried hard against his former side, yet struggled to find that killer ball in the final third.

It might be a case of sticking in and around the top six until the January transfer window before making some much-needed reinforcements.

A central midfielder who can pick a pass is likely to be on the top of Grayson’s wishlist.