Portsmouth 2-0 Blackpool: Five things we learned

Tom Aldread reacts after his glancing header goes narrowly wide
Tom Aldread reacts after his glancing header goes narrowly wide
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Blackpool FC writer Matt Scrafton takes a look at the key talking points from the Seasiders' 2-0 defeat at Fratton Park.

Pompey a class above

The host's first-half display was as good a performance as I've seen in League Two this season. In the reverse fixture back in September, Paul Cook's men played football that was extremely pleasing on the eye but it proved to be ineffective as the Seasiders countered their way to an impressive 3-1 win. But they were unable to repeat their exploits as they came up against a rejuvenated Pompey side who threatened to run amok in the first period, and probably would have done had they had a goal-getter to stick their numerous chances away. Blackpool weren't necessarily poor but they just found themselves coming up against an in-form Pompey side who, given the quality at their disposal, should really finish in the top three.

Fratton Park crowd made a difference

Pompey's squad isn't their only asset, as the Fratton Park crowd also made a huge difference - as commented on by Gary Bowyer during his post-match interview. The club's supporters' trust launched a campaign for the fans to back their players after their nervousness and anxiousness had been criticised by Paul Cook after the 2-0 victory against Accrington on Saturday. But the home faithful were typically raucous from the very first minute on Tuesday night and backed them until the very last minute when Eoin Doyle rounded off the win with the second in injury time. Being able to attract a crowd of over 15,000 for a Tuesday night doesn't give you a divine right to be promoted from this division, but it should surely work in your favour and that proved to be the case against the Seasiders.

MATCH REPORT: Portsmouth 2-0 Blackpool

Tactical changes aided second half revival

The Pool players seemed to be a little off the pace in the first half, with Pompey first to every loose ball which allowed them to gather momentum and dictate the pace of the game. But they were very much on the back foot at times in the second period after Gary Bowyer had shifted his system and reverted to a back four with Will Aimson picking up the spare man in a defensive midfielder's role. Pool certainly took the game to the hosts and had a good go, but aside from a glancing Tom Aldred header and a blocked back post attempt from Brad Potts, the men in tangerine rarely threatened in front of goal and failed to make Pompey 'keeper David Forde work. Statistically Pompey have the best defence in the league and that showed as they kept Pool at arm's length before wrapping up the win at the death.

Minimal damage was done

It could have been a damaging defeat had the teams around Blackpool in the table all picked up wins, but Colchester, Wycombe and Barnet all lost while Mansfield, Exeter and Grimsby could only draw. Obviously last night was an opportunity missed but it was always going to be a tough ask to pick up three points at Fratton Park, where a point looked like the only realistic hope of salvaging some sort of result. But it won't mean anything if Pool don't get back to winning ways on Saturday, where they face a Crewe side who have won back-to-back games to lift them up to 18th in the league, although they only remain six points ahead of the relegation zone. The next few weeks will prove crucial as Blackpool come up against sides in and around them in the league table in the form of Exeter, Barnet, Plymouth, Wycombe and Stevenage.

Long away journeys don't add up

It won't be used by the players as an excuse for their defeat, but whose idea was it for Blackpool to make the 560-mile round trip to Portsmouth on a Tuesday night? Plymouth away on a Tuesday night in March is even worse, but there's not much that could be done about that seeing as it was re-arranged following Pool's run in the FA Cup. The league is bad enough for northern teams like Blackpool with trips to Exeter and Newport also on the horizon in what is a league dominated by teams based in and around London and in the south. Those supporters among the 216 in the Fratton Park away end who travelled from the Fylde coast deserve huge credit, and if they got stuck in the mammoth network of motorway roadworks at 3am, you have my sympathy.