Match verdict: Blackpool buckle under self-imposed pressure

The Blackpool players observe a minutes silence before the game
The Blackpool players observe a minutes silence before the game
Share this article
Have your say

An old phrase says you should never put all your eggs in one basket – if it breaks you’re in serious trouble.

And I’d suggest that’s where Neil McDonald and his Blackpool squad are right now.

The Doncaster Rovers supporters show solidarity with the Blackpool fane

The Doncaster Rovers supporters show solidarity with the Blackpool fane

When deciding cup competitions weren’t really for them, Pool piled pressure on Saturday’s game, making it a must-win against an improving Doncaster side.

But it was a game they lost, and pretty emphatically.

After another difficult afternoon at Bloomfield Road, Blackpool’s players looked shattered of confidence, big questions hung over the manager, the fans booed the team off and, most importantly, the club remain deep in a relegation battle.

If they’d won either of the cup games, of course, the whole ‘fragile’ confidence thing probably wouldn’t have been an issue.

Questions would never have been raised about the manager’s decision-making and the usually supportive home crowd wouldn’t have been booing just about every misplaced pass.

This was a week I’m sure everyone inside the club wishes they could rewind and replay. Sadly they can’t. So what can McDonald do to try to turn the corner again? Well, new faces are a must.

Personally, I’m getting bored hearing how every signing he’s asked for has been delivered by his excellent chairman. If that really is the case, then he needs to ask for more.

While other clubs in League One have done some very smart business in the last week on loan, Blackpool have once again stood back.

The loan moves McDonald has opted for haven’t been bad, but they’ve been nothing more than stand-ins or like-for-like replacements. What this squad needs is a quick injection of two or three real quality players ... but of course they aren’t cheap.

McDonald also needs to realise his supporters read The Gazette, which remains highly influential.

So use us, embrace us and stop being dragged into treating the local newspaper as naughty schoolboys just because they’ve fallen out with your chairman.

As for the football – using players in their correct positions would help.

Take David Ferguson, the under-fire captain who I think has been thrown in the deep end a little this season. Handing a player of his age and inexperience the armband was a huge and needless pressure, something he probably struggled to cope with in the opening few games.

He has begun to find his feet and settle into his roles as left-back and skipper – only to play the last two games on the right. When he was booed on Saturday for a misplaced pass, his confidence looked totally shot. I know the club don’t have a fit right-back, but maybe a more experienced head would handle being out of position better.

A similar problem happened at Port Vale, Barnet and Wigan for Luke Higham, the poor lad has played all of his three professional games so far out of position. What chance has he got?

All of the above seemed to affect the players on Saturday. The very second Doncaster grabbed the opening goal, Pool’s heads dropped and the game was over.

As expected, McDonald recalled a number of his first- choice players, with eight returning to the starting line-up.

After almost two weeks off the refreshed Brad Potts and David Norris were among those to return.

Clark Robertson and Tom Aldred were reunited in the centre of defence, while Burton loan man Dean Lyness made his debut in goal.

For Darren Ferguson’s Doncaster there was just one change, although sadly former Pool favourite Richie Wellens was only named on the bench.

It was a desperately miserable afternoon at Bloomfield Road, with the wind and rain leading to what appeared to be one of the lowest attendances of the season. It was a game it appeared few were up for, off the field at least.

In Blackpool’s goal was the debutant Lyness who probably will have wanted a nice easy couple of catches to ease himself into his Pool career.

But after just three minutes he was flung right into the middle of the action with his first touch.

A nothing ball over the top caught Pool out as Nathan Tyson’s pace took him behind the defence, only for the keeper to be brilliantly on his toes to race out and divert the danger.

If it acted as a warning for the Seasiders, it was one they certainly didn’t take.

Just two minutes later another long ball forward totally caught them out, this time Tyson outpacing Tom Aldred before he whipped a cross towards the back post which was half cleared by Charles Dunne into the path of Andy Williams. The midfielder took a touch and curled a lovely effort into the top corner.

While Aldred was simply outpaced. It was a bad mistake by Dunne at the back post, and another terrible goal.

Blackpool were really struggling to handle Tyson’s pace and he was again in the mix on 13 minutes, controlling and firing over from 12 yards.

It took 17 minutes for McDonald’s men to muster their first chance of the afternoon, and it was a good one.

Jarrett Rivers got at the full-back for the first time in the game before delivering the perfect cross towards Cullen who headed just wide.

It was a big chance and one which Cullen may feel he should have scored, but the move was positive at least.

Three minutes later Doncaster were on the attack again, when Conor Grant was given far too much time to turn 20 yards from goal and fire just wide.

As the half-hour mark approached Blackpool were finding the going tough, with supporters booing after a number of misplaced passes.

While skipper Ferguson was on the receiving end, you have to feel for the youngster, he’s yet another playing being used out of position.

The booing almost spurred Pool on. Seconds later they almost drew level when Redshaw curled just wide after good play from Cullen.

Many of Blackpool’s problems were self inflicted as they failed to do the simplest of defensive tasks.

And it was only keeper Lyness who stopped Doncaster from doubling their lead on 33 minutes after more sloppy play from the home side. He beat away an effort from the former Bloomfield Road loan man from close range.

Sadly his superb debut wasn’t to last long. Just four minutes before the break he misjudged a corner and allowed defender Aaron Taylor-Sinclair to bundle the ball over the line.

You had to say it had been coming. A minute later, Lyness was again involved, pulling off a superb save to deny Conor Grant from close range.

Grant, on loan from Everton, looks a real player and cruised through much of the afternoon in the middle.

As the half-time whistle blew boos rang around Bloomfield Road and, to be fair, who could blame the supporters, in a season of some poor displays. That 45 minutes was right up there with the worst.

The instructions at the break from McDonald would no doubt have been to get an early goal. Sadly four minutes in it was very nearly three, only for another Lyness save to deny Doncaster.

Yet again Grant was allowed to run from the midfield and try his luck with Lyness diving to tip wide at full-stretch.

Blackpool then had a decent spell of possession and looked like they were set to threat, that until a Ferguson foul-throw saw the momentum drop. It was typical of the Seasiders’ luck.

Bloomfield Road was another quiet and lifeless place on Saturday, apart from the Doncaster fans who were loving every minute.

Ironically it was the away end that brought the biggest cheer of the afternoon when they began a chant against the Oystons which continued for around five minutes.

McDonald did try to liven things up with a change of formation, introducing Kwame Thomas and dropping Redshaw into the hole, but it did little to inspire a comeback.

There was the odd decent moment, particularly when Aldred headed over from a McAlister cross.

People are asking me: “What’s happened to Blackpool? I thought they’d turned things around?”

I’m a little worried they are back to square one. Let’s hope not.