Burton Albion 3-0 Blackpool: Seasiders fall further off play-off pace with miserable defeat
It was a disastrous day at the office for Blackpool as their play-off hopes took a massive dent with a convincing defeat at Burton Albion.
Terry McPhillips’ side were fortunate to find themselves just two goals down at the interval, a half where they also saw their goalkeeper Mark Howard stretchered off with a serious injury.
Matters only got worse in the second period when the hosts added a third to clinch their first home win since Boxing Day.
Blackpool struggled to create any chances of note all afternoon, with Burton keeper Bradley Collins given virtually nothing to do.
The visitors, who have now conceded eight goals in their last three away games, slip down to ninth place, four points adrift of Doncaster Rovers who still have a game in hand to play.
Donervon Daniels made a quick recovery from the thigh injury he picked up in midweek to keep his place in the Blackpool side.
The defender suffered the knock in Tuesday night's 1-1 draw at home to Doncaster Rovers after just 20 minutes, but recovered sufficiently to start at centre back alongside Ben Heneghan.
That's because Curtis Tilt missed out after suffering a recurrence of his hip injury in midweek.
Michael Nottingham, the man who scored Pool's goal off the bench against Doncaster, started at right back - replacing Tilt in the side.
Marc Bola returned from a hamstring injury but only found himself on the bench, with Nick Anderton remaining at left back.
Nya Kirby retained his spot among the substitutes ahead of Antony Evans, who dropped out of the squad altogether.
Ollie Turton missed out for the second game running with a hamstring injury, keeping him out on the sidelines alongside Callum Guy, Jimmy Ryan and Max Clayton.
Former Seasider Colin Daniel started for the hosts, who went into the game having not won at home in 2019.
Blackpool almost made the perfect start when, with just three minutes on the clock, the Seasiders worked the ball out to Liam Feeney on the left whose cross just evaded Chris Long in the centre, who otherwise would have had a simple tap-in.
But it was the hosts who broke the deadlock just six minutes in, Pool punished for some lax defending.
Lucas Akins was allowed too much time and space to cross from the left, with his delivery falling nicely for Liam Boyce who couldn’t miss from close range, bundling home into the back of the net.
One almost became two shortly afterwards, Kieran Wallace steering just wide of goal at the near post.
Blackpool continued to live dangerously, Jamie Allen clipping the outside of the post with a low drive as Terry McPhillips’ men were opened up once again.
The disastrous start only got worse, Pool almost gifting Burton a second goal in the most bizarre of circumstances.
Ben Heneghan passed the ball back to Mark Howard who all of a sudden collapsed on the floor in agony, appearing to tear a muscle.
That almost presented the Burton forward with a simple tap-in, but Howard somehow managed to claim the ball while lying on the floor.
He was, however, then stretchered off the pitch to applause by both sets of supporters, replaced by Myles Boney for his first league appearance since October 2016.
The Seasiders looked nervy with the ball at the back and struggled to work the ball into Burton’s half, the hosts constantly forcing Pool into mistakes with their closing down.
Michael Nottingham clipped a ball into the centre which Matty Virtue flicked on towards the back post, only for Burton to clear their lines.
Matters went from bad to worse for Blackpool when, with 10 minutes of the half still remaining, they fell two behind.
It came courtesy of Allen, who was left unmarked to stab a volley into the turf which Boney should have easily claimed.
But his fumble saw the ball slip through his fingers and despite Ben Heneghan’s best efforts to clear, the referee controversially awarded the goal after adjudging the ball to have crossed the line.
The Seasiders almost pulled one back on the stroke of half-time through Jordan Thompson, who unleashed a powerful drive from range that Burton keeper Bradley Collins collected at the second attempt, causing the Blackpool fans to sarcastically sing “we’ve had a shot”.
A sign of Pool’s frustration came in first half stoppage time, Long sliding in late on John Brayford and receiving a booking as a result.
Boyce almost made matters worse for Blackpool, seeing his shot charged down at the back post after he had been left unmarked once again following a corner.
Nottingham had been lambasted during the first half for being caught out down the right, and that’s exactly what happened at the start of the second period.
He roamed forward leaving a gap for Will Miller to run into, and he pushed forward before unleashing a shot from the edge of the box that Boney tipped over.
At the other end, Virtue fired harmlessly wide at the near post after chesting down Michael Nottingham’s deflected cross in from the right.
Pool continued to be exploited down their right, with yet another pullback reached Allen whose goalbound shot was charged down before it could threaten Boney.
Despite bringing Joe Dodoo and Nya Kirby into the fray, the Seasiders persisted with their diamond formation which had proven so ineffective up to that point.
It changed little and if anything, it appeared just a matter of time until Burton would add another goal to their tally.
On 68 minutes, that’s exactly what happened when Akins headed home completely unopposed after his strike partner Boyce was allowed to float a cross to the back post.
With 15 minutes remaining, Pool finally changed their system by reverting to three at the back, but by then it was too little too late.
Heneghan squandered a half chance to pull one back with two minutes to go but he could only direct his diving header wide of the upright.
Kirby then saw his low drive tipped around the post by the Burton keeper with the final action of the game, capping off a thoroughly miserable day for the Seasiders.
Burton: Collins, Brayford, Buxton, Allen, McFadzean, Miller (Harness), Wallace (Hutchinson), Quinn (Bradley), Daniel, Boyce, Akins
Subs not used: Bywater, Fraser, Templeton, Clarke
Blackpool: Howard (Boney), Nottingham, Daniels, Heneghan, Anderton, Spearing, Virtue, Thompson (Kirby), Feeney, Long (Dodoo), Gnanduillet
Subs not used: Bola, Taylor, Pritchard, Delfouneso
Referee: Anthony Backhouse