Bradford City 2 Blackpool 1: Five things we learned
So Blackpool's return to League One started with a 2-1 defeat at Bradford City.
As opening games go it was always going to be a testing one for Gary Bowyer’s side but one in which they performed admirably.
So what else did we pick up from the game?
A performance of two halves
It’s an old cliche but one that holds true given the difference between the first 45 minutes and the second half.
As lively and as buoyant as they were in the first half, Bowyer’s players were quieter and more disappointing after the break.
It’s a pattern which will hopefully appear less and less throughout the season as teams in a higher division will punish those difficult moments.
Speaking of which….
It stands to reason that playing in a lower division means teams and individuals can get away with a lot more than those sides at the higher end of the footballing pyramid.
Last season, for instance, Blackpool might have got away with the two errors which led to Bradford’s goals on Saturday.
Will Aimson didn’t have to make the challenge he did for the free-kick which led to the Bantams’ opener.
As for keeper Ryan Allsop, he might have got away with some indifferent-looking positioning in League Two but Omari Patrick wasn’t so generous this time around.
If in doubt, launch it
It’s laudable that Blackpool are trying to play out more from the back this season.
However, there comes a time when possession football has to take a back seat to clearing your lines.
It was a lesson a couple of Town’s midfielders nearly discovered to their cost.
Allsop was forced into a save after skipper Jimmy Ryan gave away possession on the edge of his own box; something which Nathan delfouneso did after the break before recovering well to block a shot.
The timing of Brad Potts’ move to Barnsley wasn’t ideal for the Blackpool camp, coming the best part of 42 hours before the start of the season.
As well as leaving the Seasiders a man short in the middle, it meant Nathan Delfouneso having to learn a new role against some particularly strong opposition.
While he didn’t disgrace himself in the middle, he would still appear a better option as a back-up striker than an emergency midfielder.
Though this may all be academic if rumours of a move for Cheltenham Town’s Harry Pell comes off; a natural midfielder to complement Ryan and Callum Cooke.
Reasons to be positive
Yes, Blackpool lost but it’s not the end of the world.
Bradford away on the opening day was something of a hospital pass from the fixture computer but it gave Bowyer’s players a benchmark of the standards they have to reach.
For the opening 45 minutes, anyway, they gave as good as they got and were unlucky not to be in front at the break.
They will play worse this season against teams who aren’t at Bradford’s level and will pick up points; Saturday’s first-half performance is something to build on.