Blackpool 0-3 Huddersfield Town: Seasiders given harsh lesson as they're ruthlessly punished for failure to take chances
Blackpool failed to make it back-to-back wins in the Championship after being ruthlessly punished by Huddersfield Town.
The Seasiders were the better side in the first-half, controlling play confidently and limiting the visitors to very little in the way of an attacking threat.
But they failed to make the most of the chances that came their way, Shayne Lavery the biggest culprit with three missed opportunities.
Pool’s lack of a clinical touch in front of goal was punished in cruel fashion by the Terriers, who netted three goals in just 14 minutes at the start of the second-half to condemn Neil Critchley’s men to their fourth defeat in their opening seven games.
The Seasiders also slip back into the bottom three after moving up the table following Saturday’s magnificent 1-0 win against promotion favourites Fulham.
After sealing their first three points of the season on Saturday with a magnificent win against promotion favourites Fulham, many expected Critchley to name an unchanged side for this encounter.
But Blackpool’s head coach likes to keep us all guessing and ended up making two, albeit ones we weren’t necessarily expecting.
Kenny Dougall came into the side in place of Kevin Stewart, who dropped down to the bench after only making his first start of the campaign on Saturday.
Shayne Lavery returned to the fold to partner Jerry Yates in attack, while Tyreece John-Jules moved over to the left wing. That saw Keshi Anderson drop down to the bench.
Elsewhere, there was a surprise inclusion on the bench in the form of Gary Madine, who returned from a groin problem to be registered in Blackpool’s 25-man squad.
Matty Virtue (ACL), Grant Ward (achilles), Demetri Mitchell (knee), Owen Dale (foot) and CJ Hamilton (foot) all remain sidelined.
Teddy Howe, Oliver Sarkic, Bez Lubala and Joe Nuttall continue to be left out having not been registered in Blackpool’s squad.
Huddersfield, meanwhile, made three changes to the side that lost somewhat unfortunately to Stoke City on Saturday.
Former Seasider Ollie Turton was named among the substitutes having made the surprise move to West Yorkshire just four days after Blackpool’s Wembley triumph in May.
This was the first meeting between Blackpool and Huddersfield since the final day of the 2014/15 season, when the encounter was infamously abandoned due to fan protests.
On this occasion, both sets of supporters made plenty of noise early on for all the right reasons, but it was a quiet affair on the pitch as the two teams looked to work one another out.
Luke Garbutt had the first shooting opportunity of the evening when Pool were awarded a 25-yard free-kick, but the left-back’s effort flew well over.
After a muted start, the first chance of the night fell the way of the returning Dougall, who headed Garbutt’s free-kick back across the face of goal and wide. But Huddersfield goalkeeper Lee Nicholls never looked particularly troubled.
Huddersfield hit back with a headed chance of their own, the unmarked Harry Toffolo wasting a good chance at the back stick by looping a presentable effort well wide.
As the game began to open up just a smidgeon, Josh Bowler did superbly to beat his man on the byline to get himself into a good crossing position.
But Huddersfield had men back, leaving the winger short on options. Bowler eventually looked to cut the ball back to the edge of the box, but the away side were able to scramble clear.
Pool were dealing well with their opponents defensively, the Terriers struggling to offer much of an attacking threat.
Critchley’s men came close to breaking the deadlock just after the half-hour through Dougall.
It came after a Garbutt corner had reached the Australian at the back post, the midfielder sending a sweetly-struck volley towards goal which Nicholls was equal to thanks to a flying save.
The Seasiders continued to look the more likely to score, Shayne Lavery going close with a header at the near post from a Garbutt corner which flew into the side netting.
The Terriers made a rare venture forward five minutes before the break, creating a good chance for Daniel Sinani following a pullback from the left.
But former Huddersfield man Richard Keogh was there to make a heroic block, throwing his body on the line to stop the goalbound shot.
Carlos Corberan’s men almost snatched the lead with the final kick of the opening half, which would have been the ultimate kick in the you-know-what for Blackpool.
Sinani was allowed to surge unopposed towards the edge of the Pool box, where his long-range effort took a wicked deflection to wrongfoot Maxwell. But thankfully it bounced inches wide.
After the half-time team talk, the away side emerged more of a dangerous outfit at the start of the second-half.
Sinani, their only real threat in the opening period, tested Maxwell with a low drive that went through the legs of a Pool defender, but the number one was equal to it.
Barely a minute later, Maxell was beaten all ends up as the visitors took the lead with a stunning long-range goal from Josh Koroma.
Maxwell seemed to be taken by surprise by Koroma’s effort, which left him rooted to the spot, only able to watch as the forward’s shot flew into the top corner.
To Blackpool’s great credit, they responded superbly to the setback, launching wave after wave of attack.
Lavery had a fairly soft penalty appeal waved away before going close twice in quick succession, turning just wide at the near post before stooping a header just over the bar.
But as Pool are now learning, if you don’t take your chances in the Championship you get punished.
That’s exactly what happened just 11 minutes into a frantic start to the second-half, as Huddersfield doubled their lead.
Matty Pearson was the man to scramble home virtually on the goalline after Pool had failed to clear their lines from a corner.
Critchley responded quickly to the second goal, replacing Jerry Yates with Keshi Anderson and pushing John-Jules into a more central position.
Ollie Turton, meanwhile, entered the fray for the visitors.
Just after the hour-mark, Huddersfield scored their third goal in just 14 minutes to all but put the game to bed.
Pool only had themselves to blame on this occasion, confusion setting in among the Blackpool ranks as Koroma was gifted the ball close to Maxwell’s goal.
The Pool keeper denied Koroma his second of the night, but the ball fell kindly to Jonathan Hogg who rifled home into the unguarded net from the edge of the box.
Pool knew the game was done, but they continued to plug away. Bowler shot straight at Nicholls after a trademark right-wing run, while Gary Madine was brought off the bench with 20 to go.
As you’d expect with Pool chasing the game, Huddersfield had chances on the break to extend their lead, but thankfully the scoreline remained at three.
Pool continued in their attempts to reduce the arrears, Lavery denied for a fourth time after latching onto Bowler’s through-ball, before the winger arrowed a fierce drive just wide.
Even if Pool did score, it would have counted for very little as the points were already wrapped up half an hour earlier following Huddersfield’s three-goal blitz.
Blackpool: Maxwell, Gabriel (Sterling), Keogh, Ekpiteta, Garbutt, Dougall, Wintle, Bowler, John-Jules (Madine), Lavery, Yates (Anderson)
Subs not used: Grimshaw, Connolly, Husband, Stewart
Huddersfield: Nicholls, Pearson, Hogg, Lees, O’Brien, Thomas, Toffolo, Sinani (Vallejo), Ward (Turton), Colwill, Koroma (Odubeko)
Subs not used: Bilokapic, High, Holmes, Sarr
Referee: Thomas Bramall
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