'The returning fans will have a squad to be proud of': Matt Scrafton's verdict on Blackpool's draw at Charlton

Nick Anderton, Mark Howard and Ollie Turton head over to applaud the Blackpool fans after Saturday's 0-0 draw against Charlton
Nick Anderton, Mark Howard and Ollie Turton head over to applaud the Blackpool fans after Saturday's 0-0 draw against Charlton
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While Owen Oyston might not manage to muster much of a defence in court, the club he still owns – for now, anyway – have the best in the land.

READ MORE: Matt Scrafton's player ratings from Blackpool's stalemate at Charlton

With Fylde coast neighbours Fleetwood Town scoring a stoppage-time consolation in their 2-1 defeat to league leaders Luton Town, that now means Pool are out on their own as the clean sheet kings in League One.

Saturday’s stalemate at The Valley – where Blackpool were rarely threatened – makes it a remarkable 16 shutouts from 32 games and 18 in all competitions. No other side in England’s top four divisions has a better record.

Reflecting on another momentous week for the football club, you have to say it’s been a very good one – both on and off the pitch.

Not only are we a step closer to regime change, with further developments surely to be expected this week, the Seasiders have made yet more strides with their recent results.

They managed to back up their win against Walsall at home last weekend with two superb points on the road, both against promotions hopefuls in Sunderland and Charlton Athletic.

It is a sign of Blackpool’s progress and current standing in the division, in spite of all the nonsense it’s been through in recent times, that the staff and players were slightly disappointed with both of those results on the road – albeit Sunderland more so than Charlton.

While Addicks boss Lee Bowyer might claim it was two points dropped for his side and that they had more than enough chances to win it, secretly I don’t think either boss will complain about having to share the points.

While the home side had a couple of half chances in the first half, opportunities that didn’t seriously trouble Pool keeper Mark Howard, the best chance of the game fell Blackpool’s way.

Top scorer Armand Gnanduillet was unable to repeat his midweek exploits at the Stadium of Light despite being sent through on goal seven minutes from time, somehow managing to scoop the ball over with the back of the net at his mercy.

For the second game running Terry McPhillips’ men also had what appeared to be good shouts for a penalty turned down when Curtis Tilt was brought down in the box with just 20 minutes to play. The Seasiders certainly aren’t getting the rub of the green from referees at the minute, that’s for sure.

Speaking of Tilt, he was in mesmerising form on Saturday, as was his central defensive partner Ben Heneghan.

The pair of them were in a stubborn mood, utterly focused on keeping the ball out of Howard’s net at any cost.

It’s pleasing that those boycotting fans who haven’t been able to properly witness just how good this side are this term are now on the brink of coming back. Should they be back at Bloomfield Road soon, they will finally be able to see what good players Blackpool have at their disposal. It is no fluke whatsoever they remain in eighth position in League One.

While we all love watching free-flowing and attacking football, it was equally as satisfying witnessing the manner of Blackpool’s defending.

While Tilt and Heneghan led the way, they weren’t the only two throwing their bodies in front of anything that came their way. I lost count of the number of last-ditch blocks made in and around the Pool box.

The league table doesn’t lie so Charlton are clearly a decent side, so it was no surprise to see them have their moments.

But did I ever feel that Blackpool were about to concede? Not really. They managed to keep Charlton at arm’s length for the majority of it and, while Charlton had plenty of nice play, it was telling that Howard enjoyed a fairly quiet afternoon.

Another plus for the Seasiders was the promising first start for Crystal Palace loanee Nya Kirby, who had previously only made two fleeting appearances off the bench.

The youngster looks an absolute natural with the ball at his feet and showed some lovely touches and a willingness to beat his man. He did a job defensively, too, although his slight frame does disadvantage him a little in physical duels against taller and stronger opponents.

But Blackpool have a canny knack of bringing players into the side who have previously struggled for game time and they do an equally adept a job as the ones they have replaced.

Blackpool are without nine players at the moment, many of them first-teamers, but you wouldn’t know it looking at the displays they’re able to produce.

McPhillips’ men aren’t just competing against the league’s best, they’re gaining the upper hand. Just imagine what these boys could do with the backing of a feverish, passionate crowd.

Hopefully those fans won’t have to use their imaginations for much longer, with that dream tantalisingly close to becoming a reality for thousands of long-suffering Seasiders.

When they do come back, they’ll have a squad of players to be proud of. There’s heart and there’s character in abundance, but don’t let that fool you. This is also a squad littered with quality who have every chance of pushing for that sixth spot – unless the opportunity is cruelly snatched away from them.

The bickering among certain sections of the fanbase hasn’t escaped my notice in recent days, which has to end. This great football club is so close to becoming a united force again – don’t let it go to waste.