Luton 1-0 Blackpool: Five things we learned
Blackpool FC writer Matt Scrafton takes a look at the key talking points from the Seasiders' cruel late defeat at Kenilworth Road.
Late winner a cruel blow
Blackpool have mastered the art of grinding out wins despite not being at their best in recent weeks but in their defeat to Luton, they really couldn’t have played much better. It was close to the perfect away performance, barring a kamikaze opening 20-minute spell where the Seasiders looked at sixes and sevens. But from then on, Gary Bowyer’s men were more than a match for their play-off rivals and in fact it was Pool who had the better chances. In the lead up to the game Bowyer promised his side wouldn’t come to Kenilworth Road looking for a point and he was true to his word - but in the end they departed with none. Play like that for the rest of the season and Blackpool should be fine and a play-off place should be theirs. But, as we are constantly told, results are what matter at this stage of the season - so how damaging could this particular one turn out to be? That will remain to be seen but it’s fair to say Pool did little wrong in defeat.
No need to panic
Did Blackpool deserve to lose? No. But did Hartlepool deserve to lose at Bloomfield Road last week? Probably not, so it happens. What is important now is the way Pool react against Grimsby Town next week, a side who were thrashed 5-1 by league leaders Doncaster Rovers on Saturday. While this defeat saw Blackpool drop out of the play-offs, if you look at the bigger picture this is only the second time Pool have been beaten in their last 15 games which just goes to show how impressive their recent run has been. The last time they lost, against Portsmouth in February, they drew three games in a row but went on to embark on a nine-game unbeaten run. A similar sort of run may be required for the Seasiders to realise their aim.
Pool found a goalkeeper in fine form
For all of Luton’s early dominance it was Blackpool who had the more clear-cut chances in the opening period, with Luton 'keeper Matt Macey making a fine stop to deny Bright Osayi-Samuel's effort from the edge of the box. That would be just the first of many fine saves from Macey, who went on to earn the home side’s man of the match. In fact both goalkeepers had a fine afternoon but it was certainly Macey who was kept the busier out of the two. Macey's most impressive stop came from Kyle Vassell's acrobatic overhead kick, which was superbly tipped over the bar with a fine reflex save. On another day, Pool could have had two or three goals were it not for a goalkeeper in impressive form. That just goes to show how well Gary Bowyer's men performed at Kenilworth Road.
Jack Payne gave his best performance in tangerine
One minute the midfielder was battling back to put in a last-ditch block in his own box and the next he was up the other end of the pitch starting attack after attack. It was an inspired performance and it is no coincidence it came in a game dominated by good play from both sides, which makes it all the more peculiar his fellow midfielder Jordan Flores struggled. Payne seemed like a man possessed at times as he put in an all-action performance. He was at the heart of virtually all of Blackpool's attacks and he was mightily impressive at keeping the ball ticking over and keeping Pool on the front foot. He has been one of Pool's most impressive performers since returning to the starting XI and long may that continue, because he's a fine player to watch and he's key to how Bowyer's men play.
Withdrawal of Osayi-Samuel was costly
The Luton backline seemed terrified of Osayi-Samuel every time he picked up the ball in space and that came to the fore after the teenager weaved his way in between a couple of challenges before sending a looping effort towards the top corner, but Luton ‘keeper Matt Macey produced a fine stop to tip it over the bar. Only minutes before the 19-year-old was left one-on-one with his defender on the edge of the box and he left him trailing before pulling the ball back for Brad Potts, who was denied a simple tap in by a recovering Luton defender. Osayi-Samuel was eventually forced to hobble off with what looked to be a slight knock and the home side must have breathed a collective sigh of relief. They had struggled to get to grips with him all afternoon and he would have been an even bigger threat on the counter attack in the dying stages, but it wasn't to be.