Doncaster 0-1 Blackpool: Five things we learned
Blackpool FC writer Matt Scrafton takes a look at the key talking points from the Seasiders' vital 1-0 away win against the league leaders.
A tale of contrasting emotions from 12 yards
Well, where to start with this one? It looked like it was Groundhog Day once again when Mark Cullen missed the first of Blackpool's two penalties in the 87th minute, although on second viewing it appeared to be a superb save from Marko Marosi to tip it onto the post rather than a bad miss. Whenever Pool are awarded a penalty, and that's been quite a frequent occurrence this season, you get that gnawing feeling in the back of your head because there's just been so many bad ones. Cullen's was Blackpool's EIGHTH miss of the season. Just imagine how comfortably they'd be in the play-offs had they scored say, four of those? Thankfully Jordan Flores did the right thing and just put his foot through it to give Pool the lead in the last minute of time in what was an utterly frantic end to the game. It wasn't the greatest penalty you'll ever see, but it ended up in the back of the net and it's not often we've said that with Blackpool and with penalties this season.
Refereeing decisions clearly had an impact on the game
But that's not to say they were wrong. In fact, the two yellows for Matty Blair were justified and he can have no complaints with his sending off just minutes into the second half. That moment clearly changed the whole outlook of the game as Pool were now the side who were expected to win and had to deal with that added pressure, while at the same time seeing a lot more of the ball than they were in the first half. The first penalty was as blatant as they come too, with Mathieu Baudry inexplicably handling following a cross aimed towards Jamille Matt. The second one, well maybe there's a few question marks over whether or not the foul on Will Aimson was in or out of the box but it certainly didn't take place two or three yards outside as some have suggested. Either way, it was a poor challenge and it wouldn't be such an issue for Ferguson Jr if his defender didn't make it. I didn't have a great view of Doncaster's claims for a spot kick in injury time but there didn't seem to be a great deal in it.
The new system worked...sort of
There were certainly a few raised eyebrows when the team sheets and expected formations were released an hour before kick off on Monday. On the face of it, Pool looked like they were lining up in a 5-4-1 formation with Nathan Delfouneso leading the line on his own - which seemed odd as he's clearly better suited to playing out wide. But it soon became clear that the Seasiders were playing with a back three and at times six midfielders, with Neil Danns and Brad Potts being unleashed from the midfield to support Delfouneso in attack. It was an unorthodox system but as the first half wore on you could tell the players were beginning to get more and more used to it. The extra man in midfield was clearly having an effect with Ian Black and Jack Payne picking up on all of the loose balls and launching attacks from deep. It worked because they were playing against the best side in the league who are very good on the ball, but I'd have my doubts over it working against Cheltenham next Saturday.
This Blackpool side have bottle
I've said it before but it's worth repeating, this Blackpool side might not possess the same quality as some of the ones that have come before them but given what the Pool fans have had to endure in the last two seasons especially, this one is miles apart. The players are willing to put a shift in and fight for the shirt. Witness the scenes at the final whistle and it's not difficult to see just how much it means to them. Of course, all this should be a pre-requisite when it comes to being a professional footballer and it's the minimum a supporter asks from their team, but unfortunately that's been severely lacking in the last few years. But it does beg the question, how further could this side go if they had the support of a passionate, large home crowd? In all likelihood we'll probably never know.
Dare we say it? The run-in looks favourable...
After Easter Monday's unexpected victory against the league leaders, Blackpool now find themselves back above that all-important line for the top seven. There's still plenty of twists and turns to come I'm sure, but Pool can only blame themselves if they finish outside when you look at their three remaining fixtures (Cheltenham at home, Notts County away and Leyton Orient at home to finish the season). Win the two home games and realistically that should be enough given Pool's vastly superior goal difference, which is pretty much worthy of another point. County away will be the tough one as they've turned the corner in the last couple of weeks and will be very tough to beat on their own ground. Indeed Portsmouth only just got over the line at Meadow Lane on Monday. In all likelihood it's going to come down to the last day where Blackpool face Orient on the day of a huge planned protest. That's certainly one to keep an eye on.