Blackpool FC writer Matt Scrafton takes a look at the key talking points from the Seasiders' breathless draw against promotion chasing Shrewsbury.
As one-sided a draw as you're ever likely to see
There's no shame whatsoever in drawing to a side that has competed for automatic promotion with Wigan Athletic and Blackburn Rovers for the majority of the season, but it really ought to have been a comfortable home win yesterday. The Seasiders were brilliant once again, dominating proceedings from start to finish. Their display was every inch as dominant as the performances they produced against Bradford City (5-0), Northampton Town (3-0) and Gillingham (0-3) during their four-game winning run. The only difference? Pool's clinical touch in front of goal was missing and they found Shrewsbury's keeper Craig MacGillivray in fine form. But Blackpool, who produced 18 shots on goal, can't complain of not having the chances. Armand Gnanduillet missed a one-on-one in the first half, Sean Longstaff shot first time when he had space to take a touch and pick his spot and Kelvin Mellor couldn't quite force his close-range header across the line from just a few yards out. On another day it could quite easily have been three or four. It was certainly a missed opportunity for Blackpool to claim a fifth straight win, a run they haven’t produced since the ‘perfect 10’ under Simon Grayson back in 2007. Nonetheless, Gary Bowyer will be delighted with the manner his players are finishing the season.
Mafoumbi's mistake proved costly
Had Joe Lumley started on Saturday, the likelihood is Blackpool would have won. That’s a very simplistic way of looking at things but it’s a notion that is hard to get away from. The Seasiders, as they have done so often recently, dominated the game and could have helped themselves to a hatful of goals. It wasn’t to be, and that’s not necessarily a criticism because you can’t expect any side to be as ruthless in front of goal as Blackpool have been in recent weeks, but one goal should really have been enough for Pool on Saturday. Shrewsbury’s effort, which it's fair to say came against the run of play, was their only serious attempt on goal in a first half where only one side looked like scoring. Attacking midfielder Sam Jones tried his luck with what has to be said was something of a pot shot at goal. There’s no way it ought to have ended up in the back of the net, but somehow it did. It obviously managed to catch Christoffer Mafoumbi by surprise. He did manage to get a hand to it but it wasn’t enough to stop the ball from sailing into the back of the Blackpool net. His predecessor Lumley, who was recalled from his loan last week and started for parent club QPR on Saturday, would have stopped it with ease. It's those fine margins that make all the difference.
Officials made a mess of Blackpool goal
Fortunately for the Seasiders, Nathan Delfouneso got his side back on level terms with a neatly-taken close-range header in the second half, even though it took a confusing amount of time for the goal to be awarded. Delfouneso peeled away to celebrate and all seemed fine as ‘Glad All Over’ played over the tannoy and, at that point, the linesman’s flag remained down. About 30 seconds later, it was up. That caused two or three minutes of mass panic, with both sets of players surrounding the referee and his official as they deliberated in the corner of the pitch. It’s not clear what the linesman had seen, or otherwise had not seen, but all we know is referee Martin Coy eventually opted to overrule his linesman and award the goal - much to the delight of the home supporters. The confusion appeared to stem from whether or not the second of two flick-ons came from a Blackpool player or a Shrewsbury defender from Ollie Turton's long throw. Highlights show Curtis Tilt flicks it onto towards Gnanduillet, who then glances a header into the path of Delfouneso who nods home. Either way it looked marginal, but the amount of time the officials took certainly didn't help matters. Perhaps we saw a little glimpse of what we're in store for in future with VAR...
Seasiders dealt injury blows...again
The Seasiders lost another two forwards to injury on Saturday, both before and during the game. Top scorer Kyle Vassell, who has suffered another injury plagued campaign, was all set to lead the line only to pull up with a hamstring strain in the warm-up. That meant he was forced to be withdrawn from the line-up and replaced by Armand Gnanduillet, who also went on to injure his hamstring during the game - being replaced by Mark Cullen towards the end of Saturday’s breathless draw. Cullen himself has been out of action for virtually the entire season, only making eight appearances - the majority of them coming off the bench. Recently we've heard people showering Joe Lumley with praise, suggesting the Seasiders would be well in contention for a play-off finish had he been with the club for the entire season, and not just the last four months of the campaign. Well just imagine how better off Blackpool would be if both Vassell and Cullen had been fit from August to May. It's a big if, and injuries always play a part. But can Vassell, who is out of contract at the end of the season, be relied upon to be Blackpool's first choice striker given his injury problems?
Why didn't more fans opt to stay behind?
Yesterday's result brought an end to another home campaign for the Seasiders, who now travel to Rotherham United next week for their last fixture of the season. It has been another impressive season for Pool under the tutelage of Gary Bowyer. Given everything they’ve had to contend with this season, both on and off the pitch, a top half finish in League One would be a bigger achievement than last season’s promotion from the fourth tier. That’s why it was such a shame the Blackpool players weren’t given the ovation their efforts deserved on Saturday when they came out for a lap of honour of the Bloomfield Road pitch – well, one side of it. Most supporters had obviously not received the message that the players and staff were set to come out after the final whistle, leaving the players to traipse out with their partners and children to applaud a couple of hundred fans that had decided to stay. Apparently there was no official announcement, hence the confusion, but it was mentioned in both the match day programme and by the announcer Tony Parr. Either way, Bowyer and his players deserved better. It's not like there was any traffic to beat! Hopefully it'll be a different story next season with Blackpool playing in front of a packed house at Bloomfield Road.