A big let-off for the Seasiders: Matt Scrafton's verdict on Blackpool's frustrating draw at Accrington

Blackpool had to wait until the 92nd minute to finally get on the scoresheet on Saturday. But as they say, patience really is a Virtue.

Sunday, 22nd September 2019, 11:24 am
Matty Virtue celebrates after saving Blackpool's blushes at the death
Matty Virtue celebrates after saving Blackpool's blushes at the death

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The Gazette's player ratings from Blackpool's draw against Accrington Stanley

Scoring a vital goal right at the death for the second time in just five days can be no coincidence.

But it’s fair to say Blackpool’s laboured display at the Crown Ground was a fairly accurate summary of how the Seasiders’ season has played out so far this term.

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Dominate possession, look good early on, miss two or three presentable chances, struggle for creativity before being undone by a suckerpunch.

It looked as those frustrations were going to be Blackpool’s undoing on Saturday. As the clock ticked into the second minute of five added on, the Seasiders were staring down the barrel of a third defeat in just four games.

But up stepped Matty Virtue to slam home a rifled shot into the back of the net off the inside of the post to send 2,013 Pool fans into raptures.

I don’t think anyone can question the character and drive of this group of players, who have bounced back from their back-to-back defeats with four points from two tough away games.

But if Simon Grayson’s men are going to maintain their current position in the league table – sixth after 10 games – they’re going to have to work on their creativity going forwards.

A lot of what Blackpool are doing at the minute is good. You can see Grayson wants his side to control games through possession, rather than sit back and rely on counter attacks.

But at this moment in time there are far too many sideways passes and not enough imagination in the final third.

Against Accrington it was all a bit too predictable and one-dimensional. Everything Blackpool did was made to look harder than it was.

Grayson pointed out post-match that his players need to up the tempo and play one or two-touch, otherwise the opposition will only be too glad to sit in and frustrate.

This particular conundrum is worsened when the opposing team takes the lead, which is exactly what happened on Saturday.

Things just aren’t going Curtis Tilt’s way at the moment and there was no better proof of that than what happened 16 minutes into this encounter.

The defender was desperately stretching to clear Sam Finley’s cross away from the danger area but, somehow, the ball flew off the toe of his boot and looped up and over goalkeeper Jak Alnwick and into the top corner of the Pool net.

Nine times out of 10 a clearance like that ends up in the stand behind the goal, but that’s just how it seems to be going for Tilt.

With the way Pool are opting to play, it’s imperative they take their chances when they come. When they don’t take the lead, it always appears to be an uphill struggle.

Ryan Hardie and Liam Feeney both wasted gilt-edged opportunities to get the Seasiders back on level terms.

They both came in an opening half where Pool were by and large the dominant side, yet found themselves trailing thanks to Tilt’s misfortune.

They really did make hard work of it in the second half though, but you must give credit to the home side. Accrington limited Grayson’s men to very few, if any chances, until Virtue’s dramatic late strike.

They huffed and puffed and the endeavour was there, but the quality was sadly lacking.

The hosts, meanwhile, became more of a threat on the counter attack as the game wore on and had one or two decent opportunities to extend their lead and make life more comfortable for themselves.

They were made to regret that wastefulness when Virtue stepped up to the plate, capping off a good individual performance by scoring for the second season running in this fixture.

Come the final whistle the words “we got away with that” seemed to be the general consensus among those of a Blackpool persuasion.

But for Accrington manager John Coleman to come out and say no-one could have complained had his side won 4-0 is a bit much.

The hosts only produced one shot on target after all, while Blackpool enjoyed 61 per cent and had 16 attempts on goal compared to Accrington’s 11.

That’s not to say Blackpool played well and deserved to win, because they didn’t. But I still don’t think things are quite as bad as some would have you believe.

Top goalscorer Armand Gnanduillet was certainly a big miss, the striker not included in the squad after suffering a muscle strain.

It’s not thought to be too big an issue and the six-goal forward should come back into contention for next week’s Friday night clash against Lincoln City.

Ryan Hardie and Joe Nuttall continued to lead the line in the Frenchman’s absence and the duo struggled to work together effectively for a second game running.

Both have something, the talent is there, but it doesn’t seem to be clicking for either of them at this moment in time.

Nathan Delfouneso is another one the Seasiders could do with having back soon, although I understand the forward is likely to be out for another couple of weeks.

The 28-year-old wreaked havoc on opposition defences in the opening games of the season alongside Sullay Kaikai, who started on the bench at Accrington.

Get those two back in the side and firing on all cylinders and I expect Blackpool to be a far threatening side than they have been in recent weeks.