Blackpool 0-3 Luton Town: Troubles in front of goal continue as Seasiders succumb to second straight defeat
Blackpool’s troubles in front of goal continued as they succumbed to a second straight defeat.
The Seasiders failed to find the back of the net for the third game running as the Hatters took the points with a goal in either half.
Neil Critchley’s side squandered three good chances in the opening 45 minutes, only to be punished by Sonny Bradley’s header on the stroke of half-time.
Elijah Adebayo doubled the visitor’s lead shortly after the interval, but Pool still had their chances to get back in the game following a barrage of second-half pressure. But their end product was found wanting once again.
Their misery was compounded in stoppage time when the visitors added a third through the lively Jordan Clark.
The Seasiders, who are winless in their last six, have only managed to score twice during that barren run.
It sees the tangerines drop down into the bottom half of the table to 15th.
The Seasiders were given a major boost for today’s game with the re-emergence of number one keeper and club captain Chris Maxwell.
The 31-year-old, who has been sidelined for two months with a torn quadricep, replaced Dan Grimshaw in goal for the Seasiders.
It was one of three changes from last weekend’s setback at St Andrew’s, with Ryan Wintle and Jerry Yates also returning to the fold.
It saw Callum Connolly and Gary Madine drop down to the substitute’s bench.
There was a further fitness boost with the return of Richard Keogh to the Blackpool bench after an injury lay-off with a calf strain.
But Oliver Casey (ankle), Luke Garbutt (knee), Kevin Stewart (ankle), Matty Virtue (ACL) and Grant Ward all remain sidelined.
The likes of Daniel Gretarsson, CJ Hamilton, Tyreece John-Jules and Gary Madine were not involved.
Luton, who had picked up just one point from their last four games heading into this, made a bright start to proceedings.
Jordan Clark was involved in their early pressure, thwarted by James Husband in the eighth minute before seeing another shot deflect just wide a moment later.
Just prior to that in the sixth minute, all four stands took to their feet to break out in applause for Arthur Labinjo-Hughes, following the youngster’s tragic death.
The Hatters continued to look the more likely to score early on and they almost did exactly that in the 16th minute when they broke at speed after a Blackpool attack came to nothing.
They picked out the imposing Elijah Adebayo, who thought he had done enough to beat Chris Maxwell at his near post only for his low drive to crash into the side netting.
For all of Luton’s bright early play, it was Blackpool who came closest to scoring when Demetri Mitchell came inches away from breaking the deadlock.
The winger surged into the box to meet Reece James’ dangerous drive across the face of
goal, poking the ball towards the opposite corner only to be denied by the foot of the post.
Mitchell was involved in the thick of the action once again a few minutes later following a deep Owen Dale cross.
Dale’s delivery was headed back into the danger area by Dujon Sterling towards Mitchell, who was crowded out by two or three Luton men before he could scramble the ball home.
Shea came to Luton’s aid in the 28th minute to superbly tip Ryan Wintle’s 25-yard piledriver over the bar as the hosts continued to pile on the pressure.
Pool were denied by Shea once again as the shot stopper reacted well to turn Dale’s close-range header around the post after a deflected cross swirled around in the blustery wind.
For all of Blackpool’s good work, a goal escaped them as has so often been the case in recent weeks.
As we know, teams in the Championship punish you if you’re not clinical in front of goal and that’s what transpired three minutes before the break.
It was a real cheap goal to concede for the Seasiders, with the returning Maxwell being caught out by a deep corner that gifted Sonny Bradley a free header - the defender nodding home off the underside of the crossbar.
Pool almost made the perfect response five minutes into the second-half when Jerry Yates sent a swerving first-time effort just over the bar.
Their resilience didn’t last a great deal longer though, as the Hatters doubled their lead just eight minutes into the second period.
It was another cheap goal to concede and one that arrived in a similar manner to the first, with a deep cross appearing to take the Seasiders by surprise again.
This time Adebayo was the man to take advantage, nodding back across goal and into the far corner.
Pool kept at it but they were crying out for some end product. On the hour-mark, Critchley turned to the bench to replace the ineffective Mitchell with Josh Bowler.
Shayne Lavery followed shortly afterwards, perhaps a bit later than expected.
The hosts were piling on the pressure at this point in a desperate attempt to get back in the game, but clear-cut chances were hard to come by.
Reece James tested Shea with a deflected effort that looped up towards goal, but once again the Luton man saved well.
A moment later, Lavery produced his first shot in anger as a clearance fell kindly for him but the Northern Irishman’s drive was blocked narrowly over.
Blackpool’s last roll of the dice off the bench was Sonny Carey, who entered the fray in place of the more defensive Kenny Dougall.
It was too little too late though for Blackpool, who failed to muster much of a fight in the dying stages.
Luton, a little frustratingly at times, saw out the game in a professional manner, winding the clock down with some clever game management.
They were rewarded with a late third, as Jordan Clark side footed past the hapless Maxwell.
The game ended in bizarre circumstances, with the stewards being given the runaround by three young fans who decided to run onto the pitch, which temporarily halted the ending of the game.
Blackpool: Maxwell, Sterling, Ekpiteta, Husband, James, Dougall (Carey), Wintle, Mitchell (Bowler), Anderson, Dale (Lavery), Yates
Subs not used: Grimshaw, Gabriel, Keogh, Connolly
Luton: Shea, Bree, Naismith, Bradley, Bell, Mendes-Gomes (Muskwe), Burke, Campbell, Lansbury (Mpanzu), Clark, Adebayo (Hylton)
Subs not used: Isted, Pereira, Onyedinma, Osho
Referee: Peter Bankes
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