Match verdict: Forget all the excuses, Blackpool just don’t score enough goals

Blackpool's Andrew Little sees a huge chance go wide on Saturday
Blackpool's Andrew Little sees a huge chance go wide on Saturday
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Sometimes you can find yourself over-analysing football and the reasons for a bad league position.

For Blackpool it’s simple – they don’t score goals.

While each week Neil McDonald talks about missed chances and near misses, the fact remains Pool are the lowest scorers in the whole of League One.

On Saturday they may well have had the game’s best chance when Andy Little dragged an effort wide from eight yards, but they managed just two shots on target in the whole game.

And it’s not just the accuracy of these efforts which is the problem, efforts on goal in general are falling way, way short of their opponents.

In their last six games Blackpool have managed 38 shots, a figure which seems pretty decent until you learn their opponents have created 103 in those same ties.

So there it is, if you don’t shoot you don’t score, if you don’t score you don’t win games. Well, what’s to blame? Is it defensive tactics or a lack of quality? For me it’s a bit of both.

In most of the six games mentioned, Pool started with the 4-1-3-2 formation, which saw them sacrifice a winger in favour of a holding midfielder.

The aim of that game is to soak up pressure and hit teams on the counter-attack when possible – something he’s witnessed working well as Sam Allardyce’s No.2 over the years.

But unlike the quality on show at West Ham in the Premier League, when push came to shove Blackpool simple haven’t been good enough to make their few and far opportunities count.

On Saturday we saw yet another distinctly average game of League One football between two sides who will not finish anywhere near the top of the league.

As ever whoever scored first won the game, although looking at the statistics you have to say Port Vale probably deserved that bit of fortune to win it. And fortune they certainly had.

There’s no doubt for me Blackpool should have had a penalty moments before Port Vale’s eventual winner, Jim McAlister’s header clearly came off the hand of Vale defender Richard Duffy.

But from that moment onwards the Seasiders were architects of their own downfall.

Instead of accepting the terrible decision, Pool’s players argued with the referee, lost concentration and less than a minute later they were a goal behind.

From that moment onwards the game was over.

After just about hitting rock bottom last week Blackpool desperately needed a boost going into Saturday’s game, and the additions of Danny Philliskirk and Mark Yeates offered that ahead of kick-off.

It also saw the Seasiders return to a much more positive looking 4-4-2 formation, with Yeates and Jim McAlister on the wings behind a front two of Andy Little and Philliskirk.

McDonald made three changes in total with David Norris coming into the side after being left-out for last weekend’s trip to Burton. Clark Robertson and Mark Cullen both missed out through injury.

In front of the watching chairman Karl Oyston, Pool took just five minutes to create a chance, and it was as good a one as Little has had in a tangerine shirt.

Philliskirk picked the ball up at the edge of the area and found Little whose lovely Cruyff turn saw him clean in on goal, only for him to drag a shot wide.

He should have at least hit the target, but I suppose the signs were good early on.

Sadly it would be a while before another sight of goal arrived.

In the whole it was Port Vale who dominated the early stages, and on eight minutes when winger Colin Daniel found himself totally unmarked. He met a Michael O’Connor and without making any real movement lost his marker to head wide.

What followed was a spell of pressure from the away side, with O’Connor’s set-piece delivery causing real problems for Pool.

The away side seemed to be delivering the ball early into the box at every opportunity, and O’Connor’s set pieces in particular were a threat.

Vale managed eight corners in the opening half, with Pool just about managing to stay strong.

It was Pool fans’ first look at striker Philliskirk, who seemed keen on dropping into the whole to pick up the ball, and early signs were positive.

He’s a player who seems comfortable with the ball at his feet.

On 25 minutes Pool’s fans had their hearts in their mouths when Sam Foley’s volley smashed into Aimson on route to goal, totally changing its direction goalwards. Luckily it drifted just wide of the post.

Bloomfield Road as a whole was pretty much silent, although there were some boos with the home support feeling their side could do more in attack.

Much of Pool’s frustrating came due to the work rate of Rob Page’s side who didn’t give Pool a minute to settle on the ball. That said it was a game lacking any real quality.

Moments later McDonald was forced into a change when Little limped off injured, being replaced by Jack Redshaw who has only trained twice in recent weeks.

It’s another injury for the Preston loan man and one which probably highlights why his spell in English football has been so stop-start.

As half-time approached Blackpool improved, and had very decent moments in their attempts to break the deadlock.

First Brad Potts burst forward from midfielder and slipped Philliskirk in on goal, only for the flag to be raised by the linesman.

As keeper Jak Alnwick stopped the striker finished well, but it wasn’t to count.

Despite Pool’s lack of bite, they had another big chance five minutes before the break.

Aimson rose well in the box to meet a decent McAlister delivery, only to head wide when he should have done better.

As the half-time whistle went Pool would have been very disappointed to have not managed a single shot on target, while the positives were the two chances they did create were good ones.

After a largely uneventful opening period, the game burst into life just three minutes into the second half when Pool had a huge shout for a penalty.

McAlister’s back post header appeared to come off the arm of defender Richard Duffy only for the referee to wave Pool’s claims away.

As the home side complained, Vale launched a counter attack which led to the game’s opening goal.

The away side burst down the right and Ajay Leitch Smith forced a brilliant save from Colin Doyle from a Byron Moore cross, sadly for Blackpool the Doyle’s save hit the striker and trickled over the line.

It summed up Pool’s luck so far this season, although some would say had Pool’s players set themselves up to defend rather than chase the referee the goal could have been avoided.

From here on you just knew the game was over. Blackpool got more of the ball after going behind, as Vale dropped deeper to protect their lead, and on the hour mark Pool finally mustered a shot on goal.

Substitute Bright Osayi-Samuel found space on the right before curling into the arms of the keeper. It took 13 more minutes for Blackpool’s first corner of the afternoon on 73 minutes. In typical fashion, it came to nothing.

Deep into stoppage time, new boy Philliskirk almost found a break through, controlling and turning well before hitting the outside of the post, but it was all too little too late.

On the new boys, Philliskirk looked lively with his back to goal and showed some nice touches, although I’m not sure we saw the best of Yeates who eased his way into life at Bloomfield Road.

Pool’s players surrounded the referee at the end to bemoan the penalty decision, but on this form there’s no guarantee they’d have even scored it.

The message is clear for Blackpool: attack, attack, attack.