Our fans’ panel agree that substitutions saved the day for Pool at Ipswich, even if an exhilarating fightback couldn’t bring our panelists to forget the disappointment of the opening hour.
A poinT gained at Portman Road, but the feeling remains that we could have had all three, even after being outplayed for an hour.
Ipswich set out to press right across the pitch and succeeded in stopping us playing our normal passing game, with many passes going astray, and Pool losing out to every second ball. Despite that, we really should have gone in level at half-time when LuaLua missed a glorious chance after the only good passing move we made.
We fell further behind to a second soft goal, but the resilience that is always in the side was sparked by a triple substitution We then started playing over the high line of their back four with immediate dividends, as first Matt Phillips, then Kevin Phillips, got away on a number of occasions. A cross to the back post was firmly headed by Kevin Phillips and the rebound off the keeper was put away on the line by Grandin. That gave the side real belief, and after a couple of half chances missed by Matt Phillips, Kevin duly supplied a firm finish after being set clear by a delightful ball from Grandin.
Further chances then came our way but were spurned, while, in the last minute, Ipswich could have nicked it, but their player trod on the ball, with the goal at his mercy.
We now have three home games, including the cup tie. If we are to be a force in the division, we really need to be making the most of these fixtures.
Man of match: Kevin Phillips
Given our appalling record at Portman Road, it was probably little surprise that we didn’t win. But it was a very odd set of circumstances that led to the 2-2 draw.
Quite frankly, for 65 minutes or so, we were poor. Nothing worked, the front three were labouring, the midfield three couldn’t find a through ball that was effective, and we were all over the shop defensively.
At 2-0 down it was a case of us and Portman Road do not mix, and nothing ever goes right here. But we must pay credit to the players and manager for the comeback. Our substitutions had a massive impact. The arrival of Elliot Grandin and Kevin Phillips, in particular, suddenly meant we found some space and looked like we had some creativity. A neat little tactical switch of Basham and Eardley seemed to work wonders.
Even when Grandin got the first back, I wasn’t sure it was going to be anything more than consolation, but in the last 15 minutes we could have scored six. In the end, to play like that and come away with a point is a good result.
Over 90 minutes Crainey was probably the pick of a bad bunch. But for me, the impact of Grandin was what changed the game. I understand he’s having some personal problems, but with the support of management, team-mates and fans he can still have a massive part to play in the future of Blackpool.
Back to Bloomfield Road on Saturday, and we’ve got a couple of winnable home games coming up. The league remains incredibly tight, and we just need to look to find as much consistency as possible.
Man of match: Elliot Grandin
The school of thought following Saturday’s game seems to revolve around delight that a 2-0 deficit was overcome to earn a point, and disappointment that our performance for the first hour of the game was sufficiently poor to put us in that position in the first place.
If Ipswich’s plan was to stifle us in midfield and reduce our creativity to a minimum, then they had it down to perfection, as we struggled to make any major impact on the opening half.
After going behind to an own goal, it had the feeling of being one of those days, especially given our record at Portman Road. I think a great deal of credit is due to Ollie and the coaching staff for the substitutions, which completely changed the game. The introduction of Grandin and Phillips coupled with the movement of Eardley into central midfield seemed to reinvigorate the side, and we became a much more potent attacking threat. Pulling a goal back quickly after going two down put them on the back foot, and it is no exaggeration to say we could have had more goals than the two we did score – however, so could they.
There’s no doubt that Danny Wilson is a player with a lot of potential, but his inclusion over our regular centre-back pairing came as a surprise to me. We will see much more of Wilson over the rest of the season, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Evatt and Cathcart returned on Saturday.
The game with Palace is the start of a run of three home games which will be extremely important to us as they are all eminently winnable.
We are still playing catch up in the leagues but if we can keep racking up the home wins we should remain on track.
Man of match: Elliot Grandin
Following Pool down to Portman Road, a venue where we have noticeably struggled in the past, there was a feeling of deja vue when the Tractor Boys were gifted a soft second goal.
Ipswich, an average side at best,had to their credit dominated the game to this point, and my thoughts were that Ollie’s search for a settled back five to give him the clean sheets to win matches is clearly still evolving.
Playing a new back four combination contributed to a lack of understanding, and a disjointed feel about the defensive line-up. And having such limited possession it was frustrating to see the midfield being so wasteful, which left Ince, Phillips and LuaLua feeding on scraps. The 10-minute spell of substitutions led by LuaLua’s forced exit which introduced Grandin, GTF and Kevin Phillips and a more direct style of play all clearly paid dividends. Grandin led the revival, netting from close range before sending Kevin Phillips free to do what he does best, with a clinical finish past McCarthy.
The game suddenly burst into life with chances at both ends coming thick and fast and with Matt Phillips staying out wide he was able to tear into the Ipswich defence and perhaps could have done better with the opportunities that fell to him. This was a good point, which we did not deserve, and after outplaying Palace for an hour at Selhurst Park earlier in the season this coming weekend represents a good chance to continue our run and seal another home win.
Man of match: Kevin Phillips
ManCHESTER United’s two late goals against Bayern Munich in 1999 was a comeback, Liverpool’s remarkable second half against Milan in 2005 was a comeback too, even Manchester City’s second half display in the FA Cup last weekend was at least a bit of a comeback ... this wasn’t. This was an absolute shambles.
And we should be looking at why we played so appallingly, rather than crediting the team for taking a point after being two goals down. I can’t believe the club website has the audacity to call it an “inspired comeback” when, in reality, it was 70-odd minutes of Sunday league stuff.
With all due respect to Ipswich, they’re a team in deep trouble. The Tractor Boys hadn’t won in five games, and recently lost seven consecutive fixtures.
If we had knocked on the door for 90 minutes and still lost, I could handle that – football is an unpredictable game. But, until Holloway made some changes that got us back into the game, we just didn’t want it enough.
It says something when a player who is struggling with personal problems and was on the verge of a move comes off the bench and makes the difference.
The man in question, Elliot Grandin, and Kevin Phillips were great, but the rest of the team should be red-faced.
Man of match: Elliot Grandin
We have to be satisfied with a point gained at Ipswich on Saturday, having been 2-0 down at Portman Road, a ground where we have not yet tasted victory.
Frankly, we hardly deserved a point, as for the first hour we found Ipswich very difficult to penetrate, and our recently rampant front three were ineffective. Full credit to Ipswich, who had done their homework. Perhaps in retrospect it might have been an idea to shuffle our pack a little.
The first half was frustrating, and I found myself more captivated by an old dear in the Ipswich end sporting a headscarf and shaking her blue pom-poms (well it was cold) as she cheered on the Tractor Boys. No one was sitting within three seats of her, but I thought she was great.
Back to the match. We have a healthy squad to pick from now – and off the bench came Super Kev to the rescue. This man had the key to unlock the Ipswich defence time after time – culminating in an equaliser for the Seasiders.
I would like to see some incoming transfer action. We have a good chance of promotion this season, as I would fancy us against anyone in the Championship (if perhaps wary of West Ham). With a healthy league position and a growing reputation, this should allow us access to a better crop of players to enhance an already a good strong squad.
Man of match: Kevin Phillips.