Blackpool FC writer Matt Scrafton takes a look at the key talking point from the Seasiders' 0-0 draw against Barnsley in the FA Cup.
Attendance the key talking point
It was one of the most entertaining 0-0 draws you're likely to see, and yet the only talking point after the game was fact that the Blackpool fans had been outnumbered by their visiting Barnsley supporters. The official attendance was 4,875 - well down for what a "normal" FA Cup third round tie would bring in at Bloomfield Road. But, sadly, 3,370 of those were Barnsley fans, meaning just 1,505 Pool fans were in attendance (and even that figure appeared generous). The pictures didn't make for great viewing but it showed the fans' continued boycott is having its desired effect.
Pool's performance was poles apart from the dirge they provided against Mansfield in their previous fixture. They started at 100mph and were first to every ball. The Tykes looked completely lost and it was almost as if they had watched the footage of Pool's 1-0 defeat to the Stags in the league and thought they would only have to turn up to get the win. But instead of passing the ball from side-to-side for 90 minutes in a futile attempt to break the defence down, this time out they were far more direct and looked to get the ball in behind the Barnsley defence at every available opportunity. It's just a shame they couldn't capitalise on the four or five clear goalscoring opportunities they created, although they found Barnsley goalkeeper Adam Davies in fine form. The Seasiders may only have one goal to their name from their previous five fixtures, but that record shouldn't continue for much longer if they play as they did against Barnsley for the forseeable future.
New formation paid dividends
Gary Bowyer has been reluctant to change from his traditional 4-4-2 system for the majority of the season, but his decision to play with a new 3-5-2 style seemed to really suit them. Playing with three centre backs allowed the defence to marshal and keep track of the impressive strike duo of Sam Winnall and Tom Bradshaw, while at the same time freeing up Kelvin Mellor and Andy Taylor to bomb up and down the flanks. Barnsley also struggled to keep tabs of the midfield three, Jim McAlister and Brad Potts especially who broke forward at speed while Jack Payne sat in a deeper role. I've said countless times this season that Pool are at their best when they're playing fast, counter-attacking football and this system seems to suit that down to a tee.
Pool at their best on the front foot
Watching Blackpool try to play patient football has been painful to watch at times. Their main strength is their pace and power, playing their football at the highest tempo possible and constantly keeping the opposition defenders on their feet. When they're tasked with patiently keeping the ball to unlock a dogged defence that sits deep to stop them from having space, they're soon made to look like a very ordinary side. But they looked anything but an ordinary side on Saturday and while it's a lazy, overused cliché (I'm going to use it anyway), any neutral who was at Bloomfield Road would have struggled to work out what side plied their trade in the Championship and which team were in League Two.
Replay means a packed January
We're only nine days into the first month of 2017 and yet Blackpool have already played twice, with a further five still to play. They will play Tuesday-Saturday-Tuesday-Saturday for the next couple of weeks before finishing the month with a home game against Yeovil and a long trip to Plymouth. But if Pool win their FA Cup replay against Barnsley, which is likely to take place on Tuesday, January 17, their league game against Plymouth will have to be reschedule to a later date (most likely a long trip on a Tuesday), with the fourth round ties set to take place on the same weekend. This fixture congestion shows Pool are doing relatively well, as they're still in two cup competitions as well as competing for the play-offs in the league, yet it could be to their detriment in their hunt for promotion.