“We created lots of good chances and deserved more.”
Words most of you may well be fed up of hearing from Neil McDonald this season, usually after lacklustre displays by his Blackpool team.
But last night, for once, he was spot on. The fact Blackpool hit the woodwork THREE times in the opening 45 minutes proves just how unlucky they were not to be out of sight at the break.
The difference? Well, for once they set up with genuine intent to score goals.
For weeks we’ve watched McDonald opt for a negative, deep style of play, which has resulted in dour games and disappointing results.
But last night there was a clear difference in approach.
Whether it was a deliberate tactic or just the players feeling their poor hosts were there for the taking, we don’t know – but it was much better.
The worrying thing is that even when Pool play well and take the game to one of their relegation rivals, they still don’t come away with three points.
The fact they’ve now dropped into the relegation zone courtesy of Shrewsbury’s victory last night made it all that little bit worse.
McDonald made three changes to the side which lost to Bradford at the weekend, one of them forced as David Ferguson replaced the suspended Will Aimson.
New dad Clark Robertson moved back to the centre of defence, while Jack Redshaw started in place of Mark Yeates and big Uche Ikpeazu made his first ever start for the club.
One noticeable change was to Blackpool’s formation, with McDonald opting for a 4-3-3, with Redshaw and Philliskirk either side of Ikpeazu in attack.
When Pool were on the defensive, these wide men were asked to tuck in and defend.
As the rain battered down on Pool’s first ever visit to the tidy and impressive Proact Stadium, it was the visitors who started the quicker, with Ikpezu already causing problems.
It was his hold-up play and pass which created the game’s first chance, teeing up Potts to volley powerfully goalwards. Tommy Lee in goal was a match for the effort, getting two hands behind the ball to beat it away.
Just a minute later came another chance for the away side as Philliskirk’s cross was headed just wide by Ikpeazu.
The positive formation certainly showed in Blackpool’s opening quarter of an hour. It was clear to see they were at least going to try to win the game.
It took until the 15th minute for Chesterfield to have anything which resembled an attack, and it almost led to a red-faced moment for Tom Aldred.
The defender miskicked a Gboly Ariyibi left-wing cross goalwards. Luckily for Aldred, the ball crept wide of the post with keeper Colin Doyle seemingly beaten.
It seemed to put a spring in the step of Spireites winger Ariyibi, who couldn’t have come much closer to opening the scoring moments later.
He found space on the left again before cutting on to his right foot and curling a superb effort against the far post. He looks a player.
The post was becoming the star of the show as conditions worsened, with Potts the latest to get in on the act after he was given time to steady himself and rattle a low effort from 25 yards.
As the ball cannoned off the inside of the upright, sadly for Pool it was a defender who reacted quickest to clear off the line.
Blackpool looked a different side to the defensive outfit of the weekend, and they were for once creating genuine chances on goal.
The next saw David Norris lift a ball towards Ikpeazu on the penalty spot before the striker used a lovely bit of skill and a lot of strength to turn and fire at keeper Lee.
One thing the three in midfield did is take the shackles off Potts, who was finally able to get himself into dangerous areas. Too often in recent weeks the youngster has been forced to sit deep and has let games totally pass him by. Last night he looked much more like his old self.
He’s a player who has been a real disappointment lately, though for me he shouldn’t be anywhere near the bottom of League One. He’s a player with Championship quality.
But you have to prove it and at times Potts has looked like he needs a rocket to get going.
Finding a way of motivating him week in, week out remains one of McDonald’s biggest challenges.
After the game settled down a little bit with half-time approaching, our old friend the woodwork again got in on the act – twice in a matter of seconds.
First Aldred headed against the bar from 12 yards. The rebound fell to Norris, whose looping header hit the inside of the post.
Incredibly the ball stayed out; even more incredibly the first half ended goalless.
There was always going to be a response from the home side at some point and Danny Wilson’s men started the second half with real purpose.
In the very first minute they won a corner and pretty much dominated the opening eight minutes after the restart. Then on 54 minutes Blackpool finally had that bit of luck in front of goal and took the lead in the process.
Potts, who was a threat all night, again found space outside the box and again tried his luck from distance, this time seeing his shot fly past Lee and into the middle of the goal.
There’s no doubt a huge deflection helped but it was a bit of luck the Seasiders deserved.
Their lead lasted all of two minutes.
Out of nowhere Chesterfield were back in the game on 56 minutes, in stunning fashion too as substitute Jay O’Shea rattled one into the very top corner from 25 yards.
It was a goal which they didn’t deserve but Pool could have few complaints about. It was a superb strike.
The goal brought Chesterfield back into the game. They looked much more competitive after it, although Potts again had a big chance on 67 minutes.
He broke into the box and met Philliskirk’s pass to drag his shot wide from 16 yards. He probably should have hit the target. But it was another decent chance as Pool created as many in one game as they have in the last month.
Although three points were still there for the taking, Blackpool’s timewasting as the clock counted down suggested they were pleased with a point. Doyle, in particular, was taking an age with every goal- kick.
With 10 minutes left, Ikpeazu looked to have broken in behind the Chesterfield back four only for his touch to let him down with the goal at his mercy.
In the end Blackpool had to be content with a point on an evening they could easily have had more, although they again ended with 10 men.
For the second time in four days Pool’s left-back picked up a late second yellow card.
This time it was Ferguson for a rash tackle in the very last minute. There were few complaints.
On a night when results elsewhere didn’t help them, Blackpool need some wins and fast. But for once it was a positive display at least, and for that they deserve credit.
Credit alone, though, will mean very little come May.