Doncaster Rovers 2-0 Blackpool: Matt Scrafton's match verdict from Keepmoat Stadium defeat
Terry McPhillips made an unnecessary gamble with his team selection last night and, unfortunately for Blackpool, it backfired.
On the face of it, making four changes to a side that, just three days earlier, had beaten one of the fancied sides in League One 3-0 at home seems bizarre.
Of course, it makes more sense when you take into account Blackpool’s schedule, which sees them return to action for a third time this week with their FA Cup second round clash at Solihull Moors on Friday.
Ollie Turton being left out was an enforced change, with the defender picking up an injury in that weekend win against Burton Albion. McPhillips also suggested Marc Bola might have a knock, hence why he also wasn’t included, although the left back did travel with the team last night.
But dropping Joe Dodoo - a man who has scored four goals in his last four games - as well as Michael Nottingham, just seemed harsh.
In what other circumstances would you drop a striker in such good form? I could understand had he not performed in his previous outing, but he bagged a goal and an assist against the Brewers at the weekend.
It wasn’t just your normal goal and an assist either, it was an acrobatic scissor kick and a powerful run of the full length of the Bloomfield Road pitch, before putting it on a plate for Jordan Thompson.
When strikers are in scoring form, they just want to keep playing. Even if he was tired, as McPhillips suggested given the effort he’s put in recently, momentum and confidence is likely to carry him through.
Dropping a player who is in such productive form in front of goal will surely only serve to knock a player’s confidence.
It was intriguing to see the first man to storm down the tunnel at the Keepmoat last night was Dodoo, who was eventually brought on with 25 minutes remaining. By then it was too little, too late.
McPhillips has previously emphasised to his fringe players, which Dodoo has been for much of the season, that if they take their chance when they’re given it then they’ll keep hold of the shirt. That’s just not been the case with the on-loan Rangers man.
As soon as I saw the line-up, I feared the worst. But to Blackpool’s credit, they performed well in the first half and they were the side who ought to have been ahead at half time, not Doncaster.
Three more-than-presentable chances came their way, with Nathan Delfouneso failing to beat the keeper from inside the six-yard box, Armand Gnanduillet fluffing his lines in front of goal and Joe Bunney failing to finish off a fine team move.
The Seasiders created three clear-cut chances at the weekend in their 3-0 win against Burton and converted them all. This time, another three opportunities came their way but, this time, that clinical touch eluded them. That was the difference.
Even just the one goal would have made a huge impact, it would have given Pool something to hold onto.
As it was, they were left to chase the game after Herbie Kane, a diminutive, talented midfielder on loan from Liverpool, bagged his fifth goal in as many games with a superb, swerving effort that crashed off the underside of the crossbar and ended up in the back of the Blackpool net. Mark Howard had no chance.
It was a goal out of nothing in first-half stoppage time but it served to knock the stuffing out of Pool, who just didn’t have an answer in the second half.
They struggled to create anything of note, with their only chance - if you could call it that - was a shot in anger from Gnanduillet who whistled one past the post from outside the box.
Blackpool aren’t very good at chasing games, their wins - other than that remarkable 3-2 comeback win against Bradford City back in September - have all come when they’ve got their noses in front.
Hindsight is a wonderful thing and, to McPhillips’ credit, it has previously worked when he’s opted to make wholesale changes.
But that’s usually been in the cup competitions, whether that be the FA Cup, League Cup or the Checkatrade Trophy, and they’re different matters entirely.
League games are your bread and butter and, apart from enforced changes, it seems bizarre changing a winning team - especially one that was on a five-game winning streak.
But we shouldn’t be too harsh. Blackpool have been magnificent recently and are still well-placed in the league table.
McPhillips has held his hands up and admitted he got it wrong with his team selection, especially the dropping of Dodoo.
But now we need to see a reaction on Friday night against Solihull. Blackpool will need to be much-improved as they won’t want a repeat of the embarrassing defeat they endured in the FA Cup against Boreham Wood last season in front of the TV cameras...