It could almost be a quiz question over Christmas dinner.
Which game this season did Blackpool win without managing a single shot on target?
You may think that’s an exaggeration, but it’s really not, Pool didn’t manage to test Fleetwood keeper Chris Maxwell at any point during the 90 minutes. But do you know something else? They couldn’t care less.
Arriving into the game on the back of seven defeats on the bounce, Blackpool simply needed a win, especially when you consider it was against Fleetwood.
The ‘noisy neighbours’, as chairman Andy Pilley himself called his club, had done all the talking in the build-up and were rightly excited.
You got the feeling it was the last thing Blackpool wanted. And while McDonald said afterwards he hopes the result will end the ‘negative headlines’, the result still leaves huge questions about the quality in his squad.
Although what can’t be questioned is his players’ commitment, particularly at the back, that and they have loaned a very decent keeper.
I’ve felt sorry for Dean Lyness since he arrived at Bloomfield Road – he’s conceded a bucket-load of goals without doing much wrong.
On Saturday he did everything right, and it’s a good job.
Steven Pressley’s Fleetwood managed 16 shots, nine of them on target, Lyness was a good match to them all.
In fairness to Blackpool they defended well and restricted their lively opponents to long-range efforts, something which will no doubt concern their boss Pressley. Not once did the Cod Army manage to break the Seasiders down, with almost all of their play being in front of Pool’s back four.
When Fleetwood did get into good areas around the edge of the area, they too often picked the wrong pass, failed to cross or impatiently shot with better options ahead. That said, you can see a lot of potential in Pressley’s side, particularly in their young loan players who were a threat all afternoon.
Blackpool could do with two wide men. Bright Osayi-Samuel was lively in the opening stages, bit all season they’ve been crying out for pacy wingers.
It was in attack which brought McDonald’s only change of the afternoon, with the return of Jack Redshaw in attack. It followed Derby strangely recalling Kwame Thomas on Thursday.
While many felt Redshaw was due a place in the side anyway, for Derby to insist on Thomas returning only to throw him back into their u21s side was very odd to say the least.
Elsewhere new boy Elliot Lee had to make do with a place on the bench. After hearing the cliches about derby games being fast and furious, there was actually a pretty even-paced start to the game.
Both sides appeared on edge and struggled to get a grip of the ball in the opening 10 minutes, with the ball barely on the floor in swirling winds.
One thing you could tell is Blackpool had a much more defensive mind to their play in the opening stages. I suppose after conceding so many goals of late that was always going to be the case, they almost invited Fleetwood on.
As the away side grew in confidence and committed men forward, Pool almost caught them on the counter. Blackpool found themselves two on two as Brad Potts broke from midfield. He found Osayi-Samuel, who cut inside and shot into the side netting.
Despite looking lively with their attacking intent, Fleetwood took eleven minutes for a look on goal, as David Henen flashed one across the face. The chance gave Town’s striker belief, and three minutes later they should have taken the lead. Not once, but twice.
First Blackpool totally switched off from a free-kick allowing David Ball to run into the box and cross to Joe Davis who’s effort was brilliantly blocked on the line by Pool’s Hayden White.
As Pool failed to clear another cross found Henen at the back post who’s curling effort was tipped over by Dean Lyness. Blackpool were riding their luck, Fleetwood were brimming with confidence.
A few minutes later McDonald’s men finally got that slice of luck they’ve desperately needed. Potts did well down the right and his superb low cross was turned into his own net by Fleetwood skipper Nathan Pond.
It was cruel for Cod Army hero Pond, but Blackpool didn’t care, it was their first goal in 558 minutes of action. The weather may have been terrible but the football was pretty lively, with Fleetwood’s loan wingers at the heart of all the visitors’ good play.
On 33 minutes it was the turn of Tariqe Fosu to threaten, this time shooting from 25 yard, an effort superbly held by Lyness. Pool’s loan keeper has been decent on the whole, and that was another good save with the wind making long range efforts tricky.
There are moments which can define games, and on the stroke of half came one, and a chance which summed up Pool’s finishing of late.
A long punt by Clark Robertson was totally misjudged by Pond as his clearance fell to Redshaw inside the area.
With only keeper Chris Maxwell to beat the striker made a total mess of it, firing high and wide.
It was a chance which would have sealed the game and just about summed up Pool’s luck in front of goal.
Half-time saw Blackpool make a change in personnel and formation, with new boy Lee replacing Osayi-Samuel.
It saw them revert to a 4-1-3-2 formation, with Redshaw getting forward to support the front two as often as he can, something which never really worked. Fleetwood, shooting towards their vocal travelling army, raced out of the blocks for the second half, and almost fired themselves level.
Sadly for them David Ball’s effort was deflected the wrong side of Lyness’ post.
While Fleetwood were looking dangerous what will have pleased McDonald was the fact the away side were restricted to long-range efforts.
In the first hour not once did the Cod Army manage to get in behind the Seasiders.
Another example of that came on 55 minutes when Lyness again got down well to save after Jimmy Ryan tried his luck from range.
Moments later the away side again threatened, this time Henen chasing a long-ball down the channel before trying his luck from the most ridiculous of angles. The effort caught keeper Lyness off guard, only for it to come back off the bar and Pool escaped.
Pool’s change of formation didn’t work at all, and come the hour mark it was all Fleetwood. McDonald chose to replace Redshaw with the much more defensive John Herron. Fair play to the Blackpool boss for quickly recognising his error and switching it back.
Fleetwood appeared to be running out of attacking ideas, although they continued to look the most likely. In an attempt to liven things up they introduced former Seasider Bobby Grant who typically introduced himself with a long-range effort which was comfortably saved by Lyness.
With 10 minutes left the game was in danger of fizzling out, until a moment of handbags between the players threatened to spark the game back into life.
As Lyness pounced on a ball in the box, Pond jumped in and caught the keeper, much to the disgust of the Pool players, who raced in to push and shove the Cod captain. Referee Graham Scott let it all calm down and rightly awarded just a yellow. There was no intention at all from Pond.
Fleetwood introduced Nick Haughton in an attempt to liven things up, and he forced Lyness into action yet again with six minutes remaining.
The lively midfielder played a lovely one-two with Antoni Sarcevic at the edge of the area before powering a left-footed effort towards goal, Lyness was again a match.
In the end Blackpool would hold on for the ugliest, but most important of wins. For Fleetwood the game was still something to celebrate – a stepping stone in a wonderful story created by Andy Pilley.
I just wish the travelling fans had sung his name more – for large periods they appeared more interested in Blackpool’s under-fire Karl Oyston.
If Oyston ever does leave Bloomfield Road, it sounds like he’ll be welcome in Fleetwood!
1-0 with a goal by Pond was the result the romantics would have wanted – a shame he scored it in his own net.
As for Blackpool and McDonald, they won’t care about anything written here apart from the score at the top of the page. Boy, was it needed.