Fans’ panel: Matt provided gloss

The fans' panel man of the match was Matt Gilks.
The fans' panel man of the match was Matt Gilks.
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Saturday’s trip to Teesside brought a mixed reaction from our fans, though they were in total agreement over the star of the show...


In recent weeks, I haven’t been completely sure which Blackpool team would show up to matches, but on Saturday the fans were treated to a display of sheer doggedness and determination that made the club so popular with neutral fans last season.

It would have taken something a little special to go to the Riverside and win, especially due to Boro’s remarkable unbeaten spell at home – now standing at 16 games – and they’re fighting for promotion too.

So it’s actually a fantastic result to come away with a point.

Matt Gilks deserves the majority of praise, because although he conceded two goals, he definitely denied Boro several more with a string of fine saves.

Personally, I don’t think Gilks has matched the performances he was pulling off at the beginning of last season, until Saturday. Let’s hope there’s more in the tank. We all know what it can mean to a defence when the goalkeeper in on form.

And we have arguably the best player in the Championship in Jonjo Shelvey.

Having him play so well, scoring five goals in just four games, is unfortunately a double-edged sword in that Liverpool will see what potential and talent he has, and want him back. I’m hoping his form dives so we can bring him in on a permanent deal. Santa, if you’re reading this…

Finally, it was nice to see Matt Phillips look so sharp following his loan at Sheffield United.

Whether or not he has improved as a player remains to be seen, but he was destructive on the wing when he came on, setting up Shelvey’s winner.

Man of match: Matt Gilks


On my last visit to the Riverside, the Seasiders swept Boro aside in a 3-0 midweek win. On Saturday, after twice cancelling out Boro’s lead, Pool secured their third 2-2 draw on the road this season.

In a very open game, Boro unsettled and pressured Pool into individual errors with the Seasiders spending long periods on the back foot.

While Gilks could do little about McDonald’s opener, his one-handed save on the goaline from another well-placed McDonald header was world class, and allowed Pool to go in at the break all-square.

Although Boro came out guns blazing in the second half, when they did break through Blackpool’s gutsy defending, they were denied by Gilks, who somehow kept Boro at bay with a series of outstanding saves.

Pool just wouldn’t give up, and even after McDonald’s close-range finish late on, they pulled it level again when Matt Phillips found Jonjo Shelvey, who made no mistake by smashing home his volley.

The result was not only down to Gilks, as Barry Ferguson played a true captain’s role constantly breaking up Boro’s high tempo football and feeding simple passes to help launch Pool raids.

Ollie’s substitutions allowed Matty Phillips and Billy Clark to open up cracks in the Boro defence, and Pool could have so easily snatched it at the death.

No surprise then that what was ultimately missing for Pool was LuaLua. It was a shame his indiscipline prevented his appearance in a game that was simply crying out for his skills.

Man of match: Matt Gilks


The fortnight’s break never seems to do us any good. Invariably we play like we’ve never seen each other, and that pattern duly followed at Middlesbrough, where we constantly gifted possession and lacked any of the understanding we’d seen against Leeds and Millwall.

Having said that, the character that is always there also came to the fore, and in a game that could have seen us three or four down, by the end we could also have nicked all three points.

It’s that character, as much as football ability, that is the defining aspect of any club’s season, as it is the extra ingredient that turns a good side into a successful one.

I’ve always thought we have it, and see no reason why it won’t stand us in good stead again.

While quite a few were having an off day, Matthew Gilks was having a great day, and undoubtedly kept us in the game with a series of great saves, in particular a double save in the second half when he got up to make a second save with the goal gaping.

Man of match: Matt Gilks


Quite how we came away from the Riverside with a point I will never know.

Middlesbrough proved tough opponents from the off, and after 10 minutes, I had the feeling it was going to be one of those days.

Once a team gets on top of us like that we tend to collapse.

Oh, but not any more, Out of nowhere we found an immediate response to each Boro goal to ensure we stayed on level terms.

It even looked as though we might snatch a win towards the end.

This is a most welcome development, which surely underlines our strength of character and confidence.

Boro are one of the stronger contenders we have faced this season so far.

They looked devastating on the attack, and Matt Gilks was given a good workout and performed magnificently.

I must confess I was starting to doubt Ollie’s seemingly defensive team selection as we looked nervous in our half, but as soon as we got the ball over the halfway line we looked totally at ease.

We needed the men back to keep Boro at bay and, of course, we can score when we want.

How true this proved to be on this occasion.

The buzz and the unbeaten run continue. Roll on Saturday.

Man of match: Matt Gilks


We can be pleased to have taken a point from a game which was an excellent advert for Championship football.

Visitors will struggle to get much out of games at the Riverside this season, as Boro are a decent team.

I doubt Alex Baptiste in particular, who has been superb all season, will want to relive his experiences against Marvin Emnes and Merouane Zemmama.

However, we showed plenty of fight and character to level twice, and towards the end both teams went all out to find a winner.

I think Blackpool supporters were happier with the point than the home fans come full time.

The absence of LuaLua was a surprise, but as news began to filter through of the likely reason for his omission, the picture became a little clearer.

My opinion is that Ollie is right to demand the highest standards of his team, but I’m pleased to hear that everything has been smoothed over.

Man of the match is an easy decision, as Matt Gilks’ crucial saves kept us in touch throughout.

It’s back to Bloomfield Road this weekend for the clash with Birmingham. They have a fixture tonight and could be breathing down our necks with two games in hand by the time we play them, so a win on Saturday would be very welcome indeed.

Man of match: Matt Gilks