Oldham 2-1 Blackpool: Five things we learned

Blackpool now find themselves just five points ahead of the League One dropzone
Blackpool now find themselves just five points ahead of the League One dropzone

Blackpool FC writer Matt Scrafton takes a look at the key talking points from the Seasiders' disappointing defeat at Boundary Park.

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Danny Philliskirk struggled on the right-hand side of Blackpool's midfield

Danny Philliskirk struggled on the right-hand side of Blackpool's midfield

Seasiders got what they deserved

Blackpool were very poor today, just as they were against Doncaster Rovers on Good Friday. On both occasions they were punished and as a consequence, they've now suffered back-to-back defeats to put themselves right back in the mire. Things looked promising for them at half time; they held a 1-0 lead thanks to Kyle Vassell's goal and, elsewhere, other results were going their way. But in truth they were fortunate to reach half-time without conceding and were thankful for a couple of glaring misses from Preston North End loanee Eoin Doyle - a man Blackpool attempted to sign during the summer. Unfortunately for the Seasiders, the striker wasn't feeling so generous five minutes from time when he rose unmarked to head home from all of five yards. Leaving any player free inside your own six-yard box is poor, but the opposition's main danger man and top scorer? That's unforgivable. That goal proved to be the winner after Jack Byrne had earlier equalised for Oldham within two minutes of coming off the bench - finding the back of the net with a well-placed finish, but the space and time he was afforded beggared belief. Blackpool only have themselves to blame.

Where were the basics?

It's difficult to put your finger on just one thing that went wrong for Blackpool today, but the basics just didn't seem to be there. Yes, the conditions were woeful and that certainly won't have helped. But as the old cliché goes, it was the same for both teams and the pitch wasn't much different to what we've seen at Bloomfield Road in recent times. When the rain is plummeting down and the pitch resembles something of a quagmire, why try and play your way out of trouble from the back? Why not just put your foot through the ball and clear? I lost count of the amount of times Blackpool almost got themselves in trouble playing short passes in their defensive third. And on two occasions in the first half, Blackpool almost gifted Oldham the lead thanks to defenders literally failing to make contact with the ball as it came towards them. Going in the other direction, far too many passes were misplaced and decision-making was worryingly poor. The space was there for Blackpool to attack as Oldham made it clear from the outset they were going to bomb forward and send their full-backs high up the pitch. A better side than Blackpool would have exploited that, but the Seasiders got it wrong time and time again. Even in the dying stages when Blackpool were desperately searching for a dramatic late equaliser, they had opportunities to work their way into the box but moves broke down, not due to Oldham's good defending, but because of their own basic errors.

The game was played in torrential rain at Boundary Park

The game was played in torrential rain at Boundary Park

MATCH REPORT: Oldham 2-1 Blackpool

Too many players under-performed

Much was made of Gary Bowyer's decision to change his system to a 3-5-2 for Friday's game against Doncaster. I understood the logic behind it, given it had proven so successful in recent games against Doncaster, but the 4-2-3-1 had been working so well for Blackpool in the lead-up to the game and it seemed a shame to change it, especially when they were facing a side behind them in the league table. I mean, why should Blackpool fear Doncaster? Blackpool subsequently lost to Doncaster, although it would be far too simplistic to say the system was solely to blame - although I would argue it played its part. Bowyer opted to bring back the 4-2-3-1 system today but its impact was negligible. You can use whatever system you like, but it won't make much difference unless your players carry out the roles they were assigned. For a start, Danny Philliskirk struggled on the right of Blackpool's attacking three. He's not a natural winger and never will be, but he was the master of his own downfall the number of times he cut inside only to be crowded out by Oldham's organised midfield. Callum Cooke was another who struggled to get himself in the game despite space being there for him to exploit. Of course they weren't the only two players to under-perform, far from it, but I'd be surprised if either was named in Blackpool's starting XI for their first of two back-to-back home games against Bradford City next Saturday.

There were a couple of positives (honest!)

Kyle Vassell netted his 10th goal of the season in impressive fashion as he handed Blackpool the lead in the first half. The 25-year-old did well to steal the march on his marker inside the Oldham box, timing his run to perfection to get on the end of Colin Daniel's low cross, before producing a deft touch that sent the ball across the goalkeeper and into the bottom corner of the Latics goal. It was a fine finish from a striker that has done superbly to reach double figures this season given the injury troubles he has raced. As I have pointed out before, had Kyle Vassell been fit all season there's no chance Blackpool would be in the position they currently find themselves in. On a personal level, he'd surely have between 15 and 20 goals to his name. Things would be looking even better for the Seasiders had Vassell been partnered with Mark Cullen all season, but at least the latter is now available for the final run-in. The striker came off the bench with three minutes to go to make his first appearance for Blackpool since August - an absence of more than seven months. He even had a late sniff of goal, but unfortunately the ball just didn't fall for him. Having Cullen back available is a massive boost for Gary Bowyer as he goes in search for that final win (or two) that would surely confirm their safety.

Pool find themselves back in the thick of it

Of course Blackpool have never been mathematically safe, so any talk to the contrary was nothing but premature. But these back-to-back defeats over the Easter period have put the Seasiders right back in the thick of it. Obviously Blackpool were going all out for the win, but a point today would have done the trick to maintain that seven-point to Oldham - who now find themselves out of the bottom four. Their late winner will have surely added a few nerves to that Blackpool dressing room, who in public remain insistent they are looking up towards mid table. It's difficult to evaluate the league table at this current moment time as there's still so many teams in and around Blackpool who have games in hand to play. Rochdale are nine points behind but have three games in hand to play. MK Dons currently occupy that final relegation spot but, looking at their fixtures, they have some extremely tough fixtures to play with two of their four remaining away games against promotion challengers Wigan Athletic and Shrewsbury Town. So the general picture is still a positive one for Gary Bowyer and his men. Reach 52 points and Blackpool should be safe, meaning five points are required from their remaining six games. Had Blackpool been offered that position at the start of the season, I'm sure they'd have taken it.