A familiar story as Blackpool are made to pay for lack of creativity - Matt Scrafton's verdict on Boxing Day defeat to Accrington
Even if you’ve got an extensive shopping list and you can’t physically wait to peruse the festive bargains, everyone knows by now the sensible thing to do post-Christmas is to avoid the mad-rush of the Boxing Day sales.
But Blackpool’s ill-timed back-to-back defeats will surely give Simon Grayson no option but to splash the cash as soon as the January transfer window opens next week.
The Seasiders can’t afford to wait, otherwise their Christmas hangover could be in danger of becoming something a bit more serious.
The League One table is so tight that slumping to consecutive defeats, while hugely frustrating, is not the end of the world.
While the Seasiders have dropped out of the play-off spots down to 10th, they’re still only four points adrift of Ipswich Town in second place.
In many ways that makes the defeats all the more frustrating, especially when - on paper at least - home games against Shrewsbury Town and Accrington Stanley were both eminently winnable.
To come away empty-handed, when sides in and around them continue to stutter, must be infuriating for the Blackpool boss.
Grayson will know only too well what is required in the New Year sales. Whenever Pool have laboured to a poor result or produced a below-par display this season, he was the first to admit it was a lack of quality in the final third that was to blame.
I’m not exactly giving away any state secrets with the revelation that sides are only too happy to sit back and frustrate the Seasiders at Bloomfield Road knowing there’s a lack of creativity from the men in tangerine.
If the opposition can stifle Grayson’s men early on, there will always be the odd opportunity or two that comes their way on the break or from a set piece.
It’s no coincidence that of the five league defeats Pool have suffered this season, four of them have been on home turf.
To arrest that decline, Blackpool ought to be looking for at least four or five new additions next month. The indication I’m getting is that is exactly what the Seasiders intend to do.
As en encounter, this all-Lancashire Boxing Day clash was almost a carbon copy of the one we witnessed against Shrewsbury Town just six days earlier.
Having failed to capitalise on a promising start, on this occasion it was a last-gasp sucker-punch that decided Pool’s fate rather than a contentious penalty decision.
Despite dominating for large swathes of the opening period, things just seemed to conspire against them.
Firstly Jak Alwnick was forced to withdraw with an injury to his bicep after making an innocuous-looking save from Dion Charles’ long-range strike.
That presented an unexpected debut to 20-year-old shot stopper Jack Sims, who was giving a rousing reception as he entered the fray - one that was bettered just a few minutes later when he rose confidently to pluck a high ball out of the air from his crowded 18-yard box.
But his personal highlight will have been the crucial save he made to deny Offrande Zanzala in first-half stoppage-time, staying big before saving with his feet to deny the Accrington striker who had borne down on him, one-on-one, after pouncing on Ben Heneghan’s weak backpass.
Alnwick’s untimely injury is now likely to present an opportunity for Mark Howard to stake a claim for the number one jersey he wore so well last season, starting at Tranmere Rovers on Sunday.
Matters went from bad to worse for the Seasiders when they were forced into making a second change before the break.
This time it was Sullay Kaikai who hobbled off the pitch with a recurrence of the pelvic issue that saw him brought off at Sunderland earlier this month.
Just minutes after exiting the pitch, Kaikai thought he had given Pool the lead with a close-range finish from Nathan Delfouneso’s knock-down - only for the linesman to belatedly raise his flag for offside. Replays were inconclusive but it looked incredibly tight.
That’s just the way it seems to be going for Pool at the moment. It was the same against Shrewsbury when they were denied a blatant penalty just minutes before the visitors were awarded a contentious spot kick of their own.
But you must create your own luck in this game, you can’t rely on the officials to swing games your way.
The confidence appeared to have been sucked out of the Seasiders in the second half as they offered very little, other than a Heneghan header from a corner.
That was the second time Pool threatened from one of Jordan Thompson’s dangerous set-piece deliveries after Ryan Edwards was denied by a flying save in the opening half.
While Accrington had the better of the second period, they weren’t exactly adventurous and they appeared satisfied to settle for a point on their travels.
As was the case against Shrewsbury in Pool’s previous outing, neither side really did enough to say they deserved to win the game.
But the three points were there to be won and that’s exactly what Stanley did in stoppage time, leaving Pool the victim of a smash-and-grab for the second time in a week.
Sean McConville was the man to notch the goal, the substitute arriving late in the box to steer home a well-placed header beyond the reach of Sims from Callum Johnson’s centre.
Pool’s players, head bowed, could do nothing else but trudge away knowing they were staring down the barrel of another home defeat.