'Blackpool barely broke sweat': Matt Scrafton's verdict on Seasiders' comfortable FA Cup win against Morecambe
Blackpool have got themselves, a little unfairly I’d argue, a bit of a reputation for succumbing to some fairly embarrassing defeats in the FA Cup.
The likes of Boreham Wood, Barnet, Torquay United and Yeovil Town have all dumped the Seasiders out of the competition in recent years, so it’s not completely unfounded.
But, since the turn of the millennium, Blackpool have won eight of their 12 first round ties. It was only during that 2007 to 2015 period, where the men in tangerine entered the FA Cup at the third round stage, where their record was questionable.
But Pool appear to have an uncanny knack of overcoming banana skins at the first-round stage, something they did in comfortable fashion against Morecambe on Saturday.
Simon Grayson’s men continued their improving recent form to deliver a professional performance, barely breaking a sweat against the side that prop up the League Two table.
The scoreline perhaps flattered them a little, as it did when Blackpool thrashed Morecambe earlier in the season – 5-1 on that occasion – in their EFL Trophy group opener.
The Shrimps struck the woodwork on two occasions on Saturday, making it five times in two games where Pool’s opponents have hit either the post or crossbar.
But, by and large, the Seasiders were in total control and could easily have ran in another two or three on another day. But let’s not be too greedy.
After a mixed spell of form, this run of four home games on the trot looked like an ideal time for Grayson’s side to put some wins together.
And that’s exactly what they’ve gone and done, getting the week off to the perfect start with the thrilling 4-3 win against Peterborough United before qualifying for the next round of two cup competitions in the space of five days.
Nine goals have been plundered in that short spell and Pool’s recent troubles in front of goal, which saw them score just seven times in eight games, now seem like a distant memory.
The ask now has to making it four wins from four at Bloomfield Road when they return to league action against lowly AFC Wimbledon next Saturday.
Produce clinical finishing like they did against Morecambe and there’s no reason why they can’t get another important victory under their belts.
It took the Seasiders just nine minutes to break the deadlock on Saturday, having already come close on one or two occasions in what was a bright start to the game.
It was a scrappy goal, but the goalscorer won’t have cared one bit. Nathan Delfouneso was the man to take advantage of some questionable goalkeeping and defending to loop home a header for his first goal in 10, his last effort coming back in the 3-1 win at Southend United in August.
Liam Feeney someone managed to keep the ball in play on the byline before chipping a ball up to Armand Gnanduillet at the back post – the Frenchman nodding it back across goal to Sullay Kaikai who couldn’t quite a shot off at goal.
Thankfully Delfouneso was standing right behind him and was in the right place at the right time to head beyond former Pool keeper Mark Halstead.
Blackpool survived the first or two scares when Sam Lavelle saw his first-time effort cannon back off the crossbar after Grayson’s side had switched off from a free kick.
In what soon became a recurring theme, Pool punished their hapless opponents within seconds as Gnanduillet rose unopposed to glance home Kaikai’s corner for his third goal of the week – taking his tally for the season to 10.
Morecambe were undone for a second time just moments after hitting the woodwork on the stroke of half time, when Virtue capitalised on yet more hesitant defending and goalkeeping to tap home a third.
Just moments earlier the Shrimps had struck the foot of the post through striker Cole Stockton, who beat Jak Alnwick – but not the framework of the goal – with his low volley.
Stockton did eventually reduce the arrears in stoppage time for the plucky visitors when he capitalised on a goalkeeping error from Alnwick, who could only spill Tom Brewitt’s awkward effort from range.
It was an odd first half in the respect that Blackpool weren’t producing wave after wave of attacks, but then again they didn’t have to as they were clinical when opportunities came their way.
If we’re being ultra-critical, they were a little susceptible to the counter attack, which is how Morecambe did enjoy some success on their rare ventures forward.
But Grayson stressed the need for professionalism at the half-time break and his players didn’t disappoint, tightening up and not giving the Shrimps a sniff in a well-controlled second half.
Blackpool weren’t at their sparkling best in the second 45 but the damage had already been done in the previous 45 minutes.
The odd opportunity did come their way, with Kaikai often the catalyst behind Pool’s bright play in the final third.
The winger wasted two glorious chances to add his name to the scoresheet before finally hitting the back of the net six minutes from time, lifting a shot over Halstead and into the roof of the net after latching onto a clever through-ball from substitute Joe Nuttall.
It put the game to bed for good and sealed Blackpool’s spot in the hat for the secound round draw, which is made on Monday night.
Another lower-league or non-league outfit at home would certainly be a welcome draw for the Seasiders, who have their eyes set on another money-spinning tie, similar to the ones they experienced against Arsenal on two separate occasions last season.
But first up, the Seasiders have the chance to make it four wins from four...