Verdict: No sign of a clear plan as Blackpool miss opportunity at Shrewsbury

Action from Shrewsbury v Blackpool
Action from Shrewsbury v Blackpool

Despite keeping two clean sheets from their opening three league games, Blackpool are still searching for their first three points of the new season.

MATCH REPORT: Shrewsbury Town 0-0 Blackpool

Action from Shrewsbury v Blackpool

Action from Shrewsbury v Blackpool

The Seasiders seem to be defensively sound and have strength in depth at the back. At the other end? Not so much.

It’s a problem that is maddeningly obvious, yet it’s one that needs solving and fast.

Blackpool picked up their second point of the season in a frustrating, forgettable affair against Shrewsbury Town at the New Meadow.

This was a vastly different Shrewsbury side that did so well to defy the odds to finish in third place in League One last season - eventually losing out in the play-off final at Wembley.

Action from Shrewsbury v Blackpool

Action from Shrewsbury v Blackpool

Their squad has been decimated and, like Blackpool, they’ve lost their manager - with Paul Hurst opting to make the move up to the Championship with Ipswich Town, taking two of his star pupils in the process.

As a result, the Shrews lost their opening three games of the season - going down to narrow defeats to Bradford City and Charlton Athletic before being dumped out of the League Cup by Burton Albion.

All is not well in Shropshire and their supporters don’t appear to be taking to their new manager John Askey. Just three league games into the new season, their fans were chanting “you don’t know what you’re doing” at Askey after he decided to take off one of their most dangerous attacking players in Shaun Whalley.

This is a side that was there to be beaten. Then again, I’m sure Shrewsbury will have been saying exactly the same thing about Blackpool, given the ongoing chaos off the pitch and the fact they’re still without a manager.

Armand Gnanduillet tussles with Shrewsbury's Anthony Grant

Armand Gnanduillet tussles with Shrewsbury's Anthony Grant

Shrewsbury weren’t great, but they were marginally better than Blackpool who barely laid a glove on their opponents.

If any of you watched Tyson Fury’s fight on Saturday night, Blackpool were akin to his Italian opponent Francesco Pianeta, who was just happy to see out the 10 rounds and get to the final bell without suffering a knockout blow.

Comparing Shrewsbury to a former heavyweight world champion might be a bit of a stretch, mind, given they were no great shakes themselves.

In fact, while they were the only side looking likely to break the deadlock, their only real clear-cut chance of the afternoon came after 89 minutes. Even then Mark Howard saved it without any real trouble.

Terry McPhillips on the sidelines

Terry McPhillips on the sidelines

Blackpool had the odd venture forward but they rarely did it with conviction. There was no creative spark, not until Jordan Thompson came off the bench anyway, and the forward line was forced to deal with scraps.

In defence, meanwhile, Pool’s players deserve credit for holding on given the mis-mash of formation and team selection.

READ MORE: Player ratings: Our marks out of 10 after Blackpool's stalemate at Shrewsbury

At times it was difficult to see what exactly Blackpool were trying to do. They had all the right players on the pitch to put together a balanced line-up, but a lot of them were playing in the wrong positions.

Ollie Turton, a right back by trade, started the game at left back and finished it as a defensive midfielder. Joe Bunney, also a full back, played most of the 90 minutes out on the wing.

Paudie O’Connor played at both right back and left back, despite only ever being a central defender. Donervon Daniels then came off the bench at half time to play on the right - again, despite being a centre half.

Action from Shrewsbury v Blackpool

Action from Shrewsbury v Blackpool

It was all very confusing and, like I say, it was difficult to see why Terry McPhillips had opted to line up his time the way he did.

There were also many in the away end wondering why the likes of Harry Pritchard, Joe Dodoo and Mark Cullen were kept on the bench when the Seasiders were in desperate need of a threat in the final third.

There was a real lack of tempo in the game and, after a bright enough start, it soon descended into a dour, actionless affair.

Shrewsbury did look the more threatening when they did go forwards, with Josh Laurent going close on a couple of occasions.

Lenell John-Lewis also ought to have done better when set up by the impressive Whalley, but he fluffed his lines when well placed in front of goal.

Blackpool’s best and only real chance of the day fell to Armand Gnanduillet, who led the attack after his swashbuckling display against Barnsley in midweek.

He wasn’t in the same sort of form here but he did go close with a lobbed effort which he ought to have done better with in the second half. Score that and all of a sudden you’re talking about the perfect smash-and-grab victory. It’s fine margins.

That’s what made it such a frustrating afternoon because, as mediocre as Blackpool were, they weren’t a million miles away from picking up three points.

That’s how it often works in League One, it’s down to a toss of the coin to separate a number of sides.

But, without the required quality in attack, Blackpool might continue to find themselves happy to settle for draws.

There might not seem a lot wrong with that, especially when Pool’s two away games so far this season have both ended in stalemates and clean sheets.

But the Seasiders now return to Bloomfield Road for a double header this weekend, with Coventry City up first on Tuesday before Accrington Stanley come to town the following Saturday.

Pick up four points against the two newly promoted sides and you’re looking at a decent enough start.

Action from Shrewsbury v Blackpool

Action from Shrewsbury v Blackpool