'There's no need to panic': Matt Scrafton's verdict on Blackpool's dramatic late defeat to Coventry City

It was always just a matter of time until Blackpool lost their unbeaten record, but it doesn’t make it any less painful when that first defeat arrives.

Sunday, 8th September 2019, 11:06 am
Blackpool's players were left crestfallen at the final whistle

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The Gazette's player ratings from Blackpool's defeat to Coventry City

That’s especially the case when the winning goal comes in stoppage time, like a dagger to the heart of the Blackpool players.

It could have all been so different, too. Everything was going so swimmingly when Sullay Kaikai got in amongst the goals again to hand the Seasides a deserved two-goal lead.

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But a crazy four-minute spell at the end of the first half, and another late showing in the second, meant Simon Grayson’s men tasted defeat for the first time this season.

It was an odd game. It’s important I make it clear from the outset, to avoid causing any offence, that Coventry were the better side and deserved to win.

But, for all their impressive passing and movement, did they create many – if any – genuine chances off their own back?

Not really, I would argue – other than a 93rd-minute attempt to add a fourth when Blackpool were throwing men forward in a desperate attempt to salvage a draw.

All three of their goals involved poor defending from Pool, who only have themselves to blame. Grayson is right to say his team were never carved open at any point.

That’s not to take anything away from Coventry, who are clearly a young, energetic and promising third-tier side who will be up and around the top echelons of the division come the end of the season. If Blackpool finish above them, they’ll have done well.

We might only be seven games in but it’s already clear, bar a drastic change in fortunes, Saturday’s entertaining contest was one between two of the league’s better sides.

Of course it’s always frustrating to lose at any stage of the season, but there’s been a bit of an overreaction to the first defeat of Grayson’s second reign as boss.

If Pool coming four minutes away from earning a creditable draw away at unbeaten Coventry is the end of the world, then things really aren’t that bad.

The key moment in the game came in the 41st-minute, at a time when the Seasiders were alreading leading 2-0 thanks to Kaikai’s brace – the first of which, coming after just 50 seconds, needs to be seen to be believed.

Instead of sitting back on their lead and picking the Sky Blues off on the break, Pool went in search of a third goal to kill the game off.

That tactic is either brave or stupid. If you get that third goal you look like geniuses, if it goes the other way you’re left with egg on your faces. That’s exactly what happened.

Coventry played a fairly routine ball towards the back stick where Matty Godden was being patrolled by both Ryan Edwards and Ollie Turton. Everything seemed fine.

But the two got in each other’s way, with the ball ricocheting straight to Godden who volleyed past the unfortunate Jak Alnwick, who up to that point had been given nothing to do. It was an early Christmas present for the striker who surely couldn’t have believed his luck.

We all know goals change games and so it proved again. The wind was in Coventry’s tails and it took them just four minutes to drag themselves back level having, just moments earlier, looked dead and buried.

Once again it was a case of Blackpool failing to do the basics in their own box. A cross came in from the left, they failed to deal with it and Wesley Jobello was left in far too much space at the back post to slam a shot high into the roof of Alnwick’s net.

Again, there was nothing the goalkeeper could have done. It was those in front of him who had let him down.

Edwards, speaking post-match, admitted that equaliser in first-half stoppage time “killed” the Pool players. You could tell.

Coventry dominated the second half while Blackpool just weren’t capable of keeping the ball.

It has to be said though, while Coventry were in the ascendancy for the entire half, they still struggled to create any presentable opportunities of note.

The only one that comes to mind was a free header for Michael Rose, the defender heading wastefully over the bar with 20 minutes remaining.

But with the possession and territory they were enjoying, it was only a matter of time until a chance did come their way and so it proved.

Blackpool’s miserable day at the office was summed up with the final exchanges of the game, which started with them being reduced to 10 men.

No, not because of a red card, but because Nathan Delfouneso – on his return from an injury lay-off – had to hobble off the pitch after sustaining a recurrence of his hamstring complaint.

With all three substitutes already being used at that point, Pool had to desperately attempt to hold despite being a man down.

But, predictably, as the clock ticked into the first minute of stoppage time, they were undone right at the death.

It was one of Coventry’s own subs, Callum O’Hare, who was their match winner, capitalising on another fortunate deflection that fell right into his path.

To his credit, he stuck it away well with Jay Spearing breathing right down his neck, but the ball nestled in the far corner of the net leaving Pool players crumpled on the turf.

It left the Seasiders empty-handed for the first time this season and you could see how much it hurt the players at the full time, the pain etched across their faces.

But let’s not panic, eh? This is just one setback in what has been a hugely promising start to the season.