'It's a tough one to take': Neil Critchley in downbeat mood following Blackpool's draw against AFC Wimbledon as he defends second-half changes

Blackpool boss Neil Critchley admits today’s disappointing draw against AFC Wimbledon felt like a defeat.

Saturday, 6th March 2021, 6:07 pm
Updated Saturday, 6th March 2021, 8:28 pm

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The Seasiders looked to be heading for a vital victory when Ellis Simms diverted Jerry Yates’ shot past former Pool loanee Sam Walker.

But Critchley’s side came under increasing pressure in the final stages, eventually conceding in stoppage-time to substitute Ollie Palmer’s effort.

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Blackpool boss Neil Critchley

It left Blackpool with a feeling of deja vu having also been denied late on during Tuesday night’s 1-1 draw against Crewe Alexandra.

“It’s a real tough one to take,” Critchley said.

“I don’t feel great obviously, it feels like we’ve been beaten conceding so late in the game.

“Having gone 1-0 up, we probably stopped the things that got us into that position in the first place.

“As we’ve seen in many games, opposition throw men forward, they put extra bodies at the top end of the pitch. They’ve got a number of players into the box and the ball has just fallen for their striker, who scores.

“It’s a hard one to take.”

Blackpool weren’t at their free-flowing best once again and Wimbledon, who are fighting for their lives down at the wrong end of the table, were worthy of their point.

“I think we played better football in periods than we managed against Crewe on Tuesday,” Critchley said.

“Saying that, our start to the game wasn’t great in the first 15 minutes and Wimbledon had the better of that period. It’s something we need to analyse and rectify.

“But similar to the Crewe game, we improved and created some opportunities at the end of the first-half, won some corners and created some chances.

“We were the dominant team in the second-half, we controlled the game and deservedly scored. We were the team on top at that moment in time.

“But we’ve got to produce that for 90 minutes and we’re not doing it for long enough periods in games.”

Pool made four changes in the second period, bringing on Luke Garbutt, Kenny Dougall, Elliot Embleton and Sullay Kaikai for Demetri Mitchell, Matty Virtue, CJ Hamilton and Ellis SImms.

The changes didn’t have the desired affect though, as Pool only invited more pressure from the away side, handing the initiative to Mark Robinson’s men.

When asked if the changes were made to sure up Pool’s lead and hold on, Critchley said: “No. Demi was tiring, it was his first start in a while and he’s an explosive player who does so many sprints and high-intensity actions, so it was asking a lot of him to go and do that for 90 minutes.

“We felt we could get a little bit more control in the game with Elliot in the middle of the pitch and bringing Sullay on as well.

“At the end, they throw two big strikers up top and they’ve got a number 10 working off them, so they had three bodies working at the top end of the pitch.

“I thought we had to match that and throw an extra body in there to make sure we weren’t outnumbered.

“Sometimes it doesn’t matter how many players you have in the box, all it takes is for the ball to land at someone’s feet or on someone’s head like it did for their goal and that’s the price you pay.”

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