'It won't live long in the memory': Matt Scrafton's match verdict on Blackpool's bore draw against Shrewsbury
Blackpool and Shrewsbury Town don't tend to produce high-scoring, entertaining affairs, so we probably shouldn't have been too surprised by Saturday's bore draw.
The Seasiders have scored just one goal in their last five meetings with the Shrews, while only three goals were scored during that spell altogether.
The Shropshire outfit have been a bogey side for Blackpool going back to 1997, which was the last time the men in tangerine managed to come out on top in a 3-1 win at the old Gay Meadow.
Since then, Shrewsbury have won seven out of the following 10 clashes, although Blackpool have managed to draw the last three, so at least that’s something and they’re heading in the right direction.
In truth, neither side deserved more than a point from this game, which was a horrible, forgettable affair that certainly won’t live long in the memory.
Blackpool failed to muster a single shot on target, which tell its own story. Shrewsbury, to their credit, managed two.
But they don’t deserve as much credit when you consider they failed to hit the target with another seven attempts.
The majority of those efforts came in the first half, an opening 45 minutes dominated by Shrewsbury and a half where Blackpool were worryingly under-par. Given the nature of their display you wouldn’t have thought last weekend’s win against the league leaders had ever happened.
Sam Ricketts’ men created three good opportunities but, fortunately for Blackpool, they all fell to Josh Laurent who clearly didn’t have his shooting boots on. He only managed to hit the target with one of them and even then it was a weak attempt straight at Christoffer Mafoumbi...you get the theme here.
To be fair to Blackpool they did improve in the second period, but they would have done well to get any worse.
Chris Long came the closest to breaking the deadlock for either side, crashing a thunderbolt of an effort against the underside of the crossbar on what was his first start for the club.
A few seconds later striker Armand Gnanduillet glanced a header disappointingly wide when he really should have hit the target. In terms of genuine, clear-cut goalscoring chances, that was your lot.
There weren’t a great deal of positives to take for Blackpool, other than another point gained and another clean sheet to make it 13 in the league for the season.
I’m sure if, at the start of the week, the Seasiders had been offered four points from their two games against Portsmouth and Shrewsbury respectively they would have taken it.
But once you get that three points against Pompey, you’ve got to be looking to follow that up with another three the following week when you’re facing a side that, although buoyed by their midweek win against Stoke City in the FA Cup, did start the day 18th in League One.
While it was certainly harsh on Nick Anderton to be dropped down to the bench after his impressive display at Fratton Park last week, it was good to see Curtis Tilt back in the Blackpool line-up.
Predictably he was Pool’s best performer and provided another demonstration of why he’s so sought-after.
While, given the nature of the game, he didn’t have a great deal to do, it was more the manner of what he did do that consistently caught the eye.
We were expecting to see both Tilt and Ollie Turton back in the line-up but the latter has been given an extra week to get fit for Pool’s next clash, the trip to Coventry City.
Terry McPhillips admitted he could have risked it and named Turton in his squad, but decided to err on the side of caution and give him another few days in training to prove his fitness.
While Tilt impressed alongside his defensive partner Ben Heneghan, both Callum Guy and Liam Feeney struggled to make an impact.
This is Guy’s first genuine taste of first-team action having come straight out of Derby County’s youth setup, and in recent weeks it’s become evident that he’s struggled a little to get used to the rigours of regular action in men’s football.
The midfielder could do with a short spell out of the team, even if it’s being named on the bench for a couple of games. The Seasiders have Nya Kirby and Harry Pritchard available in that role, while Jimmy Ryan is on his way back, so it’s not like McPhillips has no other options.
Feeney, meanwhile, is another who continues to struggle. This isn’t a spell of bad form either, it’s been like this since he signed for the club at the end of August and yet McPhillips still opts to start him. He needs to prove himself and fast.
The frustrating thing is he clearly has the talent. Watch the pre-match finishing drills and he’s consistently Pool’s most clinical finisher but he rarely, if ever, translates that into the game.
On Saturday he was played out wide on the flank while new signing Chris Long played on the other side, despite being a natural striker.
It’s a position which clearly worked for him at Portsmouth last week, where he came off the bench to score the winner on his debut.
But to get the best out of the former Fleetwood Town man you need to play him down the centre alongside Gnanduillet. Pool did that in the second half after changing their system and they looked a much better side for it.