Seasiders soap opera picks up where it left off

John Herron in action for Blackpool on Saturday
John Herron in action for Blackpool on Saturday
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It’s getting to the point where Blackpool can’t even manage a pre-season friendly game without a crisis.

After another turbulent summer Saturday’s friendly trip to Lancaster was seen as a chance to finally talk about some football. As ever that wasn’t to be the case.

Blackpool fans invade the pitch

Blackpool fans invade the pitch

Once again off-the-field issues dominated the day, which must leave new boss Neil McDonald a little bit nervous about what he’s let himself in for.

After all, you can build the best squad in the world, but if every game is going to end with a pitch invasion, what chance have you got?

The reaction this time around is different to the one in May – when the footballing world applauded and backed Pool’s fans - this time there’s a mixed response.

Many have been quick to criticise, including plenty of those inside the Giant Axe on Saturday, while many have simply said they have to do everything they can to force the Oystons out.

Breaking the law cannot be condoned but it is easy to understand the frustration, anger and feelings of that group of Blackpool fans.

On the other hand, it’s not clear what spoiling a game in the middle of summer when there isn’t an Oyston in sight adds to their cause?

If anything the chaos has probably split Pool supporters, something which is playing right into the hands of chairman Karl Oyston.

Protests are healthy and until there’s a major change, can rightly continue, but the people behind them have to make sure they have the support of fellow fans – united we stand - divided we fall, springs to mind.

At this time it’s hugely important Blackpool fans stick together if they want things to change.

From a football point of view, the stoppage was a shame.

After the dark clouds which hung over all the Championship games last season, it was actually quite nice to sit back and enjoy watching a young team full of enthusiasm.

That said, the game highlighted both side’s of McDonald’s Blackpool challenge.

The new signings looked promising, with Brad Potts and John Herron catching the eye in the middle, but it also showed the squad remains way, way short.

McDonald probably won’t be turning to many of the players he inherited for his starting eleven, meaning he will need at least another five ‘first team players’.

It will be a tough task, but if given the backing, one I quite fancy McDonald to be capable of.

I’s hard to find a bad word to say about the new boss.

Watching him in and around the stadium I saw a clearly good guy who is popular with players and staff, not that we were able to interview him.

Bizarrely The Gazette has been told it will not be allowed access to the manager or players until the start of the season, something which hasn’t yet been fully explained.

Instead the club’s ‘local media partners’ will be given preferential summer access – a puzzling situation.

Almost 800 fans made the short trip up the M6 to have their first glimpse of life under McDonald and his first line-up maybe gave a sign of things to come, with the Seasiders setting up in a 4-3-3 formation.

It saw new-boy Mark Cullen lead the line with wingers Henry Cameron and Jarrett Rivers either side of him out wide. Blackpool’s back-four clearly is a work in progress, with regular full-backs Clark Robertson and Charles Dunne being used as a defensive pairing.

It took just eight minutes for Blackpool to open the scoring when a terrible stray ball from Lancaster’s Garry Hunter played new-boy Cullen clean in on goal.

The striker made no mistake from just inside the box, it was a clinical finish which gave keeper Mike Hale no chance.

The opening twenty minutes was played at a typical tempo of a pre-season encounter, but it was McDonald’s Blackpool who controlled the bulk of the possession.

Just a few minutes later it was another sloppy piece of play which led to the game’s second goal, sadly this time from the Seasiders.

Dunne’s hesitation allowed Matt Poole in on goal, before the striker was hauled down by Colin Doyle.

Winger Ryan Winder made no mistake from twelve yards.

Even on the first day of a pre-season it was a sloppy goal to concede and a big mistake from Dunne.

On the half-hour mark came what you’d call the games first goal of quality, as Blackpool regained the lead.

Great persistence from Cullen down the right played Herron in behind the Lancaster defence before the former Celtic man played a clever square ball into the path of Cameron who had the easiest of tap-ins.

It was the first glimpse of Herron’s quality, and a confidence-booster for youngster Cameron who signed a new deal at Bloomfield Road this summer.

McDonald made four changes to the side at the break, with Pool fans getting their first look at Liverpool loan man Lloyd Jones.

While it was tricky to judge him against lower league opposition, first impressions were strong, he certainly looks the part size wise.

After a quiet opening period to the second half Blackpool doubled their lead on 67 minutes, with Cullen firing his second of the afternoon.

Substitute Bright Samuel showed quick feet out wide before Herron’s decent effort was spilled into the feet of Cullen just two yards out.

As for the new boys, Brad Potts certainly looks a player of quality, Herron can certainly handle the ball and there were flashes of class from Jarrett Rivers, at the back Clark Robertson wasn’t really tested and hardly broke into a sweat.

In the end, as is becoming the norm at Blackpool, it was off-the-field issues which would steal the headlines as a group of supporters walked to the centre circle to show their anger at chairman Oyston.

After seeing both teams leave the field of play, an announcement soon followed to confirm the game would be abandoned.

It could be another long season.

Pool: Doyle (Letheren 45), Ferguson (Jones 45), Robertson, Aldred (Higham 45), Dunne, Herron, Potts, Oliver, Rivers, Cullen, Cameron (Samuel 45).

Att: 785