Match verdict: Blackpool can have no complaints in first ever league defeat to neighbours Fleetwood Town
It was always going to be just a matter of time until Fleetwood Town finally clinched that first league victory against Blackpool.
MATCH REPORT: Fleetwood Town 3-2 Blackpool
Now it’s come, the Seasiders can have no real qualms in the manner in which that record was eventually broken.
There’s no denying Fleetwood’s winless record against the Seasiders has been playing on the minds of those at Highbury in recent seasons. You could say beating Blackpool is almost the raison d’être of their existence.
Investing in players, investing in staff and investing in facilities is what they do. It’s all part of Andy Pilley’s drive to show Owen Oyston how to run a football club properly.
It therefore seemed strangely fitting that the goal that eventually won the game for Fleetwood came via the boot of striker Paddy Madden, a man signed for a six-figure sum in January.
It's not particularly controversial to say the forward, who started the game as a substitute, would be a first-team regular at Bloomfield Road.
It speaks volumes that Fleetwood can afford to have a born goalscorer such as Madden sitting on the bench while Blackpool are left scratching around for free agents.
It was Madden’s strike partner Wes Burns who got Fleetwood off to the perfect start when he delivered a decisive early blow just five minutes in.
The tricky forward cleverly manipulated some space for himself before drilling a low shot beyond Mark Howard and into the bottom corner of the Blackpool net.
It was a double blow for Blackpool as, just seconds earlier, Curtis Tilt and Ben Heneghan were both inches away from connecting with a Jay Spearing free kick. Score that and you’re looking at a different game.
As it was, Fleetwood’s early goal sparked 20 minutes of pure domination from the home side.
They cut Blackpool open at will and could have had the game done and dusted with before it had even properly got going.
The second did shortly follow, just six minutes later in fact, and it came in similar fashion as Ross Wallace walloped one in from 25 yards out after being afforded too much space to roam forwards. Howard wasn’t to blame, the men in front of him should have done more to stop the effort, but I’m sure the goalkeeper will be frustrated not to get a strong hand to it.
Fleetwood were rampant and Blackpool were in disarray. As poor as the Seasiders were, they did well to keep the scoreline down to two. They looked nothing like the solid defensive unit we have been so accustomed to seeing in recent weeks – the side that kept two consecutive clean sheets against AFC Wimbledon and Scunthorpe United respectively.
One thing this Blackpool side does have is heart – they never know when they’re beaten. There is no better evidence of this than the 3-2 comeback win against Bradford City earlier in the season.
They couldn’t quite manage a similar result here, but Terry McPhillips’ men deserve credit for making a game of it after their disastrous start.
Blackpool began to come back into things towards the end of the first period and they eventually pulled a goal back 10 minutes before the interval, Jordan Thompson tapping in from close range.
The midfielder lashed high into the roof of the net after meeting Nathan Delfouneso’s curling cross in from the left.
Delfouneso, possibly the only Blackpool player to emerge with any credit from Saturday’s defeat, turned goalscorer in the second half as he provided an instant response to Madden’s clinical strike.
But 3-2 it remained until the final whistle, as Fleetwood’s three goals inflicted a quarter of the 12-goal tally Blackpool have conceded this season.
The injury Donervon Daniels picked up during the warm up, which saw him replaced by Ben Heneghan in the starting line-up, can’t have helped, but it certainly can’t be used as the only excuse.
You’d like to think, given Blackpool’s record of eight clean sheets in 14 league games, this was simply a one-off. But a repeat performance against Arsenal on Wednesday could prove very messy indeed.
The game ended in farcical circumstances from Blackpool’s point of view after they were reduced to 10 men in stoppage time.
It was a moment of madness from Armand Gnanduillet to get involved with James Husband in what can only be described as an off-the-ball incident.
The striker, who had earlier engaged in some pushing and shoving with Ched Evans, now misses what surely would have been the biggest game of his life at Arsenal on Wednesday, but he only has himself to blame.
One thing I will say for Fleetwood is they’re a very crafty side and they know how to gain certain advantages.
That’s not to say they cheat, because they certainly don’t, but the manner in which they blocked off Callum Guy as he attempted to close down Wallace before he lashed home Fleetwood’s second was certainly pre-meditated.
It’s those type of little incidents that are very hard for a referee to spot. I do have sympathy for John Brooks, who had plenty to deal with on Saturday.
A five-goal thriller, Saturday’s clash was a game that was threatening to boil over at several points. Not least when Fleetwood coach Clint Hill decided to get involved with Marc Bola as the left back desperately attempted to retrieve the ball from their dugout to take a throw in.
There was just no need for Hill to get involved, but he was shown a red card and sent to the stands for his pointless shove on Bola.
Not only that, there were plenty of crunching tackles – from both sides – that went unpunished. On another day, any number of them could have resulted in fouls and yellow cards, but for an occasion such as this the referee let them go.
For Blackpool, this game needs to be forgotten about as quickly as possible. It’s important the players don’t dwell on it too much, it is just their second league defeat of the season after all.
They’re still sitting in a comfortable 12th position in League One, five points off Accrington Stanley in sixth with two games in hand still to play. This result won’t define their season.
And at least they have a nice, easy opponent up next…