Blackpool FC writer Matt Scrafton takes a look at the key talking points from Pool's dismal defeat at Sixfields on Saturday.
It was a truly dismal game of football
Gary Bowyer seemed completely bemused when asked to describe his side's performance to the waiting press after the final whistle, and I can't blame him. Both sides utterly failed to do such basics as controlling the ball, finding their teammates with simple five-yard passes and other things such as testing the opposition goalkeeper. While Northampton deserve limited credit for at least working hard and for stopping Blackpool from playing, the Seasiders really don't have any excuses for what was comfortably their worst performance of the season. In fact, Bowyer said it was one of the worst games he's ever been involved with - that's how bad it was (and there were some pretty dire games last season, like the 0-0 game at home to Crawley). Northampton's lack of quality was to be expected given their lowly position and their recent poor form, but Bowyer's men can forget thinking about the play-offs if they continue to perform like that.
Northampton were bad, but Blackpool were worse
An early kick-off should be fairly irrelevant and yet it seemed to transform the Seasiders into a side incapable of doing the basics right. The most frustrating thing from Gary Bowyer’s point of view will be that for as bad as his side were, and it must be said they were truly woeful, their opponents really weren’t much better. In fact here, I’ll say it, Northampton were woeful too. It was plain to see why they came into the game in 22nd place having won just one of their last eight games. It also must not be forgotten that prior to Saturday, the Cobblers had lost their last three matches at Sixfields including a 6-0 drubbing by Bristol Rovers. There wasn’t much quality on show at all and yet to be fair to Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink’s men, they did at least battle and stop Blackpool from playing. They've clearly been starved of decent football, as evidenced by their fans' eager applause for a shot that sailed 20 yards wide of goal, but they're in a relegation dogfight at the minute and they did what was required to win, which is all that matters to them.
Gnanduillet failed to take his chance
Armand Gnanduillet was given a priceless chance to showcase his skills up front in the absence of the injured Kyle Vassell yet proceeded to waste his opportunity by labouring around the pitch for 45 minutes. That’s because he was hauled off at half time for Danny Philliskirk in a change that he can have absolutely no complaints with. For all of his natural attributes, i.e. his height and strength, Gnanduillet seems to have an aversion to actually using them - that is unless he’s playing in a crucial play-off semi-final. And yet, in a fairly ironic twist, the Frenchman had Pool’s clearest opportunity of the game. Just two minutes in, and 30 seconds after the Cobblers had gone close themselves through Daniel Powell, the striker caught the goalkeeper napping and robbed him of the ball but was only able to hit the side netting from what was an admittedly narrow angle. Despite the absence of Vassell and Cullen, Pool do have other strikers to fall back on in Gnanduillet, Quigley and Philliskirk, but can they be relied upon? Vassell's absence on Saturday couldn't have been any more obvious if it had smacked you in the face.
Blackpool are severely missing their key men
It sounds obvious, but if you lose a good chunk of the spine of your team then you're going to notice it. Clark Robertson, Jimmy Ryan, Mark Cullen and Kyle Vassell are all missing for Blackpool at the moment and boy, does it show. The bad news for the Seasiders is that we probably won't see Robertson or Cullen until the start of the New Year, while Ryan and Vassell are unlikely to return until the next league game against Portsmouth on November 18. Still, with a weakened side or not, that's no excuse for the performance we witnessed on Saturday. Northampton are a poor side and to only muster a single shot on goal - for the second week running - is clearly unacceptable. Gary Bowyer obviously agrees as he kept the players locked in the Blackpool dressing room for a good half an hour after the final whistle and he wanted answers.
Team selection for cup games could be interesting
Bowyer signalled that, had his side played well and beaten Northampton, he might have rested some of his first-team players for the upcoming cup games against Middlesbrough U21 (Checkatrade Trophy game on Wednesday) and the FA Cup first round match away to Boreham Wood next weekend. Now, he revealed, he has something to think about after his side's dismal performance. The likes of Rowan Roache are still likely to get a chance but Bowyer might just have to go with his strongest line-up again to see if his players can atone for their display. The only problem is, Blackpool don't really have the biggest of squads so Bowyer might not have that many options available to him if he wants to change it up. I'd expect the likes of Ben Williams, Nick Anderton, Danny Philliskirk and Scott Quigley to be handed starts but other than that, I can't see too many players being 'rested'.