Match verdict: Blackpool in control from start to finish in cup upset against QPR
Blackpool might have made five changes to their side for last night's League Cup triumph against QPR, but you wouldn't have noticed.
MATCH REPORT: Blackpool 2-0 QPR
Neither would you have noticed which side was the Championship outfit, such was Blackpool’s dominance.
The Seasiders stamped their authority on the game from the first minute and rarely did they allow their foot to come off the gas.
QPR just couldn’t deal with it. Steve McClaren admitted as much in his post-match interview, saying: “We didn’t handle it very well, we didn’t play football and we didn’t earn the right to play.
“That’s what Blackpool did – they took the initiative and didn’t relinquish it. We couldn’t get back into the game.”
Such was QPR’s surprise at Blackpool’s supremacy, they resorted to churlish tactics. In the first half alone, the Hoops committed 18 fouls. That number totalled 22 at the final whistle, compared to Blackpool’s six.
They might have ended the game with 10 men, with Jordan Cousins picking up a second booking with 20 minutes left to play, but they were fortunate not to lose more.
Josh Scowen in particular was in a petulant mood, but it was amusing to see him sulk down the tunnel, kicking a bottle in the direction of Terry McPhillips, after being substituted just 25 minutes in having already been fortunate not to pick up a second yellow for a cynical foul on Callum Guy.
QPR were playing like a non-league side who couldn’t get near their opponents, so resorted to over-physical, underhand challenges. In fact no, that’s an insult to non-league teams.
PLAYER RATINGS: Our marks out of 10 after Blackpool's League Cup win against QPR
But Blackpool should take it as a compliment, because they really were that good.
Mark Howard, the main source of Blackpool’s exemplary defensive record so far this season, won’t have an easier night’s work.
The keeper barely had a save to make, other than a weak effort that rolled into his midriff.
In front of him, Curtis Tilt and Ben Heneghan were utterly dominant against the 6ft 6ins Matt Smith.
Heneghan has stood up to the challenge of taking over the mantle from Donervon Daniels, who serves the third game of his suspension on Saturday when Blackpool travel to top-of-the-table Peterborough United.
Beside him, Michael Nottingham was in imperious form at right back, catching the eye with his powerful runs down the flank. He’s also a constant threat from set pieces, and I’m not exactly sure what he’s done wrong to find himself on the bench in recent weeks.
But such is the strength of Blackpool’s squad, Nottingham won’t be the only one with question marks.
The other four to come in on Tuesday - Callum Guy, Joe Dodoo, Ryan McLaughlin and Armand Gnanduillet - all staked a claim for a spot in the first team at London Road on Saturday.
You’ve still got the likes of Harry Pritchard, Joe Bunney and Chris Taylor to come back from injury. The same applies for Jimmy Ryan, although he’s not likely to be back any time soon.
To be honest though, the centre of midfield isn’t really a concern at the minute. Jay Spearing continues to patrol that area of the pitch with considerable ease, delivering 8 out of 10 displays on a weekly basis.
The 29-year-old has taken his game to a whole other level this season, and is now even adding goals to his game. He’s now the club’s joint top scorer alongside Mark Cullen.
All in all, things are going as smoothly as you could realistically expect them to be for Blackpool. When the Seasiders are winning games in the League Cup - a competition they usually exit at the first round - you know all is well.
Eleven games unbeaten, seven clean sheets from 13, three consecutive shutouts - it all makes for great reading.
But the biggest test comes this Saturday, when Blackpool’s spotless defensive record away from home comes up against free scoring Peterborough United.