'The Seasiders played better with 10 men': Matt Scrafton's verdict on 10-man Blackpool's battling draw against Burton

Curtis Tilt trudges off the pitch after receiving his marching orders
Curtis Tilt trudges off the pitch after receiving his marching orders
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With Brendan Rodgers watching on from the stands, it was perhaps asking for a bit much to see a repeat of his Leicester City side’s 9-0 scoreline from Friday night.

READ MORE: The Gazette's player ratings from Blackpool's goalless draw with Burton

Then again, witnessing just one goal would have been nice.

The Foxes supremo, taking scouting duties into his own hands ahead of Leicester’s Carabao Cup tie against the Brewers on Tuesday, will have been impressed with the way Blackpool dug in to grind out a deserved point at the Pirelli Stadium.

They did, after all, battle their way to a second draw in five days having played with 10 men for over half an hour.

Yet, in a bizarre twist of fate, the Seasiders actually performed a lot better with a man down than they did when they had their full account of players out on the grass.

Led ably by captain Jay Spearing, who drove Pool on from midfield on his 100th appearance for the club, and supported by the inspired Ben Heneghan at the back and the pumped-up Armand Gnanduillet off the bench, Simon Grayson’s men probably ought to have won the game late on.

A matter of inches separated Pool from an unlikely three points when Gnanduillet – clearly feeling he had a point to prove after being dropped to the bench – lifted a shot over the goalkeeper and onto the outside of the post in the final minute of normal time.

It would have been the ultimate smash and grab, similar to the one Rotherham United somehow managed to pull off at Bloomfield Road the other week. But Pool would arguably have merited it for the guts and determination they showed after Curtis Tilt’s needless dismissal 15 minutes into the second half.

The defender, who is enduring a poor season by his usually high standards, badly let down his teammates when he picked up a mindless second yellow card.

When Tilt was booked as early as the third minute, you knew he would be in for a long afternoon and a further flashpoint was always likely.

After the early caution, he managed to get away with a fairly innocuous foul later on in the first half. But that meant any other minor discretion was inevitably going to lead to him receiving his marching orders.

Well, with the manner in which he clattered into Oliver Sarkic by the touchline, he gave referee Carl Boyeson – who was in a fussy mood all afternoon – no option but to flash a second yellow in his direction. He can have no complaints.

Tilt, who is out of contract at the end of the season and appears seemingly no closer to penning a new deal than he was when talks first began three or four months ago, appears to have his mind elsewhere.

While his defensive partner Ben Heneghan was the epitome of a dominant centre back that headed and blocked everything that came in his direction, Tilt – not for the first time this season – was punished for rash decision-making.

It was his teammates who suffered for it, too, having to run that extra yard every time Burton ventured forward with the ball – which happened over and over again in the final echelons of proceedings.

But, while Burton dominated possession for the last half an hour and constantly peppered the Blackpool goal, as is to be expected from a side playing with an extra man, they didn’t exactly create any real clear-cut chances of note.

That was also the case when the two sides were competing with 11 men each, whereas the Seasiders were guilty of wasting two or three presentable chances.

Blackpool’s wait for a goal at the Pirelli Stadium continues, the Seasiders yet to find the back of the net in three attempts.

But, while Pool’s bluntness in the final third is plain to see – the men in tangerine scoring just six goals in their last eight games – Saturday’s game was more about their battling qualities and their willingness to throw their bodies on the line in search of a result.

A fifth clean sheet of the campaign was their prize, that elusive win still out of reach for a side that has won just two of their last 12 in League One.

It was always going to be difficult to penetrate a Burton defence that has conceded just two goals on home turf all season, but Pool had their chances.

Nathan Delfouneso, starting in the lone striker’s role with top scorer Gnanduillet dropped to the bench, perhaps should have done better with an early chance when he nipped ahead of the goalkeeper to win the ball yet couldn’t manage to bundle it over the line.

Matty Virtue also steered a shot over the bar from eight yards, although the ball was slightly behind him, before defensive warrior Heneghan came close to adding a second goal in as many games with a well-directed header that clipped the outside of the post.

Burton, who started the game well with their constant high pressing, had their chances too, testing Jak Alnwick with a couple of powerful long-range efforts.

They equally could have snatched it late at the death as well, Kieran Wallace failing to find the target with a near-post header in second-half stoppage time.

That would have been cruel on the Seasiders had they lost it in such a fashion, especially when they had given so much to the cause.

Blackpool will need more than just sheer hard work and effort to climb back up the table, and the chances are they’ll never look as impressive as Rodgers’ Leicester side.

But the battling qualities such as the ones Pool demonstrated in Staffordshire are attributes that all supporters will appreciate.