Blackpool 0-2 Blackburn Rovers: Seasiders taste defeat in final pre-season friendly
Goals in either half saw Blackpool taste defeat in their final pre-season friendly of the summer at the hands of Championship side Blackburn Rovers.
The Seasiders fell a goal behind as soon as the third minute when Adam Armstrong curled home a superb effort from range.
Pool matched their East Lancashire counterparts for much of the game and had chances of their own, but it was Rovers’ superior quality that made the difference.
Blackburn remained just one goal ahead until 13 minutes from time, when Ben Brereton doubled their lead with a simple tap-in from close range.
While Pool do take on Longridge Town tomorrow, their side is expected to be made up of youngsters and fringe first-teamers.
That gives Simon Grayson’s men just have a week to continue their preparations before opening their league account back at Bloomfield Road against Bristol Rovers next Saturday.
The main talking point prior to kick-off was the omission of Marc Bola, who wasn’t even named among the Blackpool substitutes.
It’s understood it was Simon Grayson’s decision to leave him out after the recent speculation linking him with a move to Championship side Middlesbrough.
Nick Anderton took his spot at left-back, with new signing James Husband starting the game from the bench
Fellow newbie Jak Alnwick was handed his debut in between the sticks, while Armand Gnanduillet was preferred up front to Ryan Hardie.
The visitors named a strong line-up, featuring the likes of Bradley Johnson, Stewart Downing, Bradley Dack and Danny Graham.
The Seasiders were straight onto the attack and saw sight of goal within the opening 45 seconds, but Nathan Delfouneso blazed well over when he had Ollie Turton in space to his right.
Grayson’s men were soon made to pay for that miss when, just three minutes in, Adam Armstrong gave the visitors the lead with a superb strike.
The forward was given too much time to cut inside and curl a delicious effort into the top corner of the Pool net, giving Alnwick no chance whatsoever.
Armand Gnanduillet wasted a gilt-edged opportunity to level matters on 11 minutes after Blackburn were carved open by the Seasiders.
Sullay Kaikai drove through the middle, feeding Nathan Delfouneso who played a first-time ball into Gnanduillet who somehow managed to lift his effort over the bar under no real pressure.
Kaikai continued to be the man posing the most problems for the visitors, the winger picking up a stray pass to drive towards goal yet again, this time the former Crystal Palace man opting to shoot only for his effort to deflect away for a corner.
Rovers striker Danny Graham was granted far too much space inside Pool’s box from Lewis Travis’ right-wing cross, but Michael Nottingham did well to charge down the striker’s effort and divert it behind for a corner.
The home side continued to show invention and quality in the final third, Graham producing a clever flick towards goal that Alnwick did well to claim.
Otherwise the Seasiders were a match for their Championship counterparts, only for a lack of a killer touch in front of goal.
Pool were inches away from falling two behind when they sloppily lost the ball in their own half, allowing Armstrong the chance to slip in Graham whose first-time effort just missed the far post.
This sparked a spell of pressure from the away side, whose superior quality was beginning to tell on the ball, leaving Pool’s players having plenty of chasing to do.
Sam Gallagher was sent through on goal five minutes before the break but was thwarted by Alnwick, who rushed out of his goal to make a vital last-ditch block with his legs to deny the striker a simple tap-in.
Blackpool, just as they did in the opening half, create an early opening within the first minute of the second period.
Jordan Thompson found Kaikai in space and the winger, with his back to goal, turned quickly before wastefully sending a rising shot well over.
Pool’s clearest opportunity of the game, other than Gnanduillet’s first-half miss, came the way of Michael Nottingham just four minutes into the second period.
The defender played a quick one-two with Jay Spearing inside the Blackburn box and sent a low short hurtling towards goal on his weak foot, only for a visiting defender to keep their lead intact with a desperate last-ditch block.
Kaikai was again involved in the thick of the action, starting a move with a sublime piece of trickery before almost getting on the end of Nathan Delfouneso’s smart flick in behind the Blackburn backline.
Pool continued to threaten a leveller, Kaikai seeing a 25-yard curler deflected out for a corner before Nick Anderton’s ambitious long-range effort - again taking a wicked deflection - landing just wide of the far post.
New signings Ryan Hardie and James Husband were brought on for the Seasiders on the hour-mark, along with Liam Feeney who came on to face his former club.
The 32-year-old almost made an instant impact, providing a dangerous low cross which Kaikai couldn’t quite get a touch to at the near post - when even the slightest of touches would surely have seen the Seasiders draw level.
Rovers immediately threatened at the other end, Elliott Bennett pulling the ball back to substitute John Buckley whose dangerous low drive was well claimed by Alnwick.
Buckley was then brought down just outside the Blackpool area by a hasty, late challenge by Ryan Edwards, giving Rovers a presentable shooting opportunity.
And it was one they took full advantage of, too, Alnwick fumbling Richie Smallwood’s effort straight into the path of Ben Brereton who tapped home from close range.
With both sides making wholesale changes in the last 10/15 minutes of the game, the rest of the fixture fizzled out, leaving the Seasiders to suffer a defeat by a two-goal margin.
Blackpool: Alnwick, Nottingham (Feeney), Edwards, Tilt, Anderton (Husband), Turton, Spearing (Guy), Thompson, Delfouneso (Pritchard), Kaikai (Devitt), Gnanduillet (Hardie)
Subs not used: Mafoumbi, Sims, Shaw, Tollitt, Ceesay, Yussuf
Blackburn: Walton, Bennett, Lenihan, Mulgrew, Downing, Travis, Johnson, Armstrong, Dack, Gallagher, Graham
Subs: Leutwiler, Grayson, Magloire, Rankin-Costello, Nyambe, Bell, Smallwood, Evans, Brereton, Rothwell, Buckley