Matt Scrafton column: Blackpool's meeting with Sunderland doesn't require any added hype
We’re really getting down to the nitty gritty now aren’t we?
Just seven games remain of the normal season, but let’s hope there are another three added to that in May.
All the remaining games are big ones, so there isn’t any need to hype them up but there’s certainly more riding on this weekend’s early kick-off against Sunderland given the proximity between the two sides in the league.
Lee Johnson’s side remain in third place despite suffering back-to-back defeats against Charlton Athletic and Wigan Athletic.
They looked odds-on to climb up into the top two at one point, having enjoyed a run of nine wins in 11 games.
They’ve dropped off at just the wrong time and will be making the trip to Bloomfield Road this weekend something of a wounded animal.
I might be well off here, but I always get the feeling Sunderland wilt under the pressure of the fanbase’s weighty – but completely understandable – expectations.
Of course the supporters aren’t inside the ground anymore, so it shouldn’t be having an impact.
It’s one thing putting a run of results together when you’re chasing and another doing it when the pressure is on and the weight of expectation goes through the roof.
Let’s just hope the pressure of Saturday’s pivotal encounter proves too much for the Black Cats and Blackpool can get back to winning ways following back-to-back draws.
Sometimes it can be difficult to know how best to react to draws.
Those with a ‘glass half full’ perspective of the world will see it as another point on the board and, in Blackpool’s case, feel relieved to see the unbeaten run continue.
Others, meanwhile, will see it as two points dropped and will bemoan the failure to notch another important victory.
As normal, the truth usually lies somewhere in the middle.
There was no finer example of this than on Tuesday night.
Considering Accrington missed a penalty two minutes from time, you’d think the overriding feelings would be elation and relief that the Seasiders had avoided defeat.
There’s always that nagging feeling in the back of your mind that this is another game that got away from Neil Critchley’s men, especially at home where they’ve drawn six of their last eight fixtures.
At the weekend, there wasn’t any getting away from the disappointment of Blackpool throwing away a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 with Lincoln City, having dominated for virtually the entirety of the game.
Against Accrington, with two minutes remaining, the Seasiders were staring down the barrel of suffering their first defeat since February 6.
Thankfully, Chris Maxwell stood tall to save Colby Bishop’s spot-kick and the unbeaten streak goes on.
The reality is, unless you’re some sort of freakish machine, it’s unrealistic to expect your side to win every game they play.
That’s especially the case in League One where the lines between losing, drawing and winning are so fine.
A run of eight wins and seven draws is simply magnificent whichever way you look at it.
In fact, no other side in the third tier has enjoyed such an unbeaten run, so let’s enjoy it while it lasts.
Pool’s unbeaten streak at Bloomfield Road is even more impressive, given it stretches back 17 games in all competitions and almost six months.
Norwich City are the only other side in England’s top four divisions to have avoided defeat on home turf so far in 2021.
The main frustration from Tuesday night’s stalemate seems to be borne out of frustration at Blackpool’s failure to score against a side that was hammered 5-1 by AFC Wimbledon in their previous outing.
Because the Dons stuck five past them and Peterborough United went two better with seven a few weeks back, the expectation was that Blackpool should simply steamroller them on their way to an easy three points.
If only it was that simple.
When John Coleman’s side were thrashed by Posh at the end of March, despite being decimated by injuries, they bounced back by drawing 0-0 with in-form Burton Albion and beating Oxford United 2-1.
This Stanley side, as we already know from earlier in the season, have something about them.
So to think your side should simply turn up and win is arrogance of the highest order.
The Seasiders have been playing with plenty of confidence and swagger in recent weeks.
Arrogance? That isn’t something I associate with this current Blackpool side and, for me, that’s a very good thing.
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