Ben Burgess column: Blackpool game slow to take off on kite-flying day

Ben Burgess
Ben Burgess

On my way to Bloomfield Road on Saturday afternoon, I drove past the wonderful spectacle of the St Annes Kite Festival.

It was a sea of colour and creativity, with a mass of visitors.

I then popped into Blackpool town centre to pick some items up.

Again the crowds were out in force and there was certainly creativity involved in the stag do outfits that I saw (Ultimate Warrior looked especially exposed).

Sadly, the only place without a crowd was Bloomfield Road and in the first half it was also the only place in town devoid of creativity!

The lack of atmosphere is just a given at Blackpool nowadays and AFC Wimbledon are hardly the biggest draw in the league.

The Dons did come with a game plan, though (and with about nine ex-Millwall players), which worked a treat in the first half as the in-form Seasiders posed no threat.

Pre-match, as I studied the team sheet, it was strange to see only two names from the team that started at Wembley in the first 11.

That just goes to show the forward thinking and ruthless nature of Gary Bowyer.

There’s no room for sentiment in football and he realised the club needed better players to progress in League 1.

Many of those new young players impressed me on Saturday – well, in the second half they did.

It will be a great learning curve for the likes of Sean Longstaff, Callum Cooke and Viv Solomon-Otabor to come up against experienced players, who give you no time on the ball and close the space down quickly.

Bowyer’s men showed great patience and refused to panic after a disappointing first half.

In the second half, they finally got Longstaff on the ball and his surging run resulted in another rocket shot landing in the opposition goal.

From that point on it was one-way traffic and also a tad frustrating.

Kyle Vassell, Nathan Delfouneso and Solomon-Otabor ran riot with their pace and movement, and could easily have added four more goals to the final tally.

I’ve mentioned the new midfield players who impressed me but it was centre-back Curtis Tilt who was man of the match in my eyes.

Signed from Wrexham and lacking Football League experience, you could think he would be a bit of a gamble to replace the reliable Tom Aldred.

Once again, though, Bowyer has made another astute signing.

Tilt was excellent at snuffing out the threat of Wimbledon’s experienced forwards and looked extremely comfortable striding out of defence with the ball. It does help him when he has the excellent Clark Robertson alongside him.

Robertson has made great progress since he arrived at the club and Bowyer spoke of his relief that he wasn’t snatched away in the transfer window.

One player who did leave was Bright Osayi-Samuel. Again, the credit for his development has to lie at the feet of Bowyer.

In the last 12 months, Bright transformed himself physically and with his decision-making on the pitch.

Bowyer is a manager who works on the training ground to improve players individually and as a team.

Many managers care more about the short term of the next result, but fortunately for Blackpool and their players, they have a gaffer who is developing the guys for the long term as well.

This just makes the club more attractive to potential new signings and also gives Premier League clubs the assurance that their heavily pampered youth players will be coached correctly if they move on loan to Blackpool.

Two tough away games and hundreds of miles await the Pool in the next week.

It will also give a great indication of their chances of competing at the top of League 1.