Match verdict: Outplayed, out-battled, out-thought, and outclassed

Blackpool were shocking.There's no point trying to dig too deep into Saturday's terrible display, the above sentence probably tells you everything you need to know about the game.

Monday, 11th April 2016, 9:34 am
Updated Monday, 11th April 2016, 9:37 am
Brad Potts and Jim McAlister get in a tangle against Colchester on Saturday

Neil McDonald’s men were outplayed, out-battled, outrun, out-thought and outclassed by a Colchester side who started the day TEN points behind them in the League One table.

And despite the U’s recent decent run, it can’t be ignored just how poor Colchester have been this season.

They’ve lost more than half of their games this season and have spent all of it in the bottom four, conceding a ridiculous 87 goals in the process.

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Yet they popped the ball around at Bloomfield Road on Saturday with a confidence, swagger and belief of a team cruising towards the title - and Blackpool hardly tried to stop them.

At no point did any of Pool’s players decide enough was enough and battle for what would have been three vital, vital points. For the first time this season I have to say the players didn’t really look like it mattered.

While quality has always been in question, desire hasn’t – this Blackpool squad really aren’t good enough to turn up at 50% and expect to beat anyone.

And they now find themselves in a world of trouble in the relegation zone.

Maybe it was the killer results in midweek which has mentally wounded them, I think most believed the win against Southend a week ago had put them well on the way to survival.

But the big problem for Blackpool is just how much other sides around them want to stay up – Oldham, Fleetwood and ever Chesterfield are now picking up results.

The latter winning 2-1 away and Barnsley with ten men, a result which suggests they are going to have enough to beat the drop.

At the moment Blackpool haven’t, and it’s alarming, even terrifying, to think McDonald’s men could well be a League Two side by the time they play their final home game against Wigan in three weeks.

Defeats against Rochdale and Fleetwood and it will be all but done. On Saturday chants of ‘You don’t know what you’re doing’ rang around Bloomfield Road as fans seemed to have had enough.

The dire tactics of getting the ball forward and hoping for knock-downs will just about be accepted when they win, when they lose no one will stand for it.

In fairness to the manager most of us would have stuck with the same team he chose for the fourth game running, you don’t change a winning team.

With that in mind he opted for exactly the same XI for Saturday’s game, with Jacob Blyth and Mark Cullen once again starting in attack.

Colchester may have gone into the game 10 points behind the Seasiders, but they were in good form with two wins out of three games.

In attack they had Elliot Lee who would have been keen on making his mark, having been on the end of some interesting comments from McDonald about wanting to leave Blackpool to be ‘closer to his mum and dad’.

The fact he was the best player on the pitch on Saturday wouldn’t have gone amiss with McDonald. Kevin Keen’s side may be a struggling one, but the way they started the game didn’t really show it.

It was the away side who looked the brighter in the opening stages, with Owen Garvan taking just three minutes to get the game’s first shot off on goal. He was given far too much space to tee-up a 25 yard effort, which luckily for Pool was always rising.

It was Colchester who continued to dominate possession against a sluggish-looking Pool side, and created another decent chance just moments later.

Gavin Massey did well on the left before his superb delivery was inches away from the head of onrushing striker Chris Porter. It was a let-off for McDonald’s men who hadn’t come out the traps.

Colchester continued to knock the ball around comfortably, with Lee a constant threat on the left of a front three. For Blackpool it was a tough opening 15 minutes, but crucially the score remained goalless.

And on 17 minutes the Seasiders created their first chance of the game, and a good one at that.

Hayden White danced into the box on the right-hand side and cut a ball back into the path of David Norris who poke wide from eight yards.

The midfield man couldn’t quite adjust his feet quickly enough to get a proper connection and the chance was gone.

Despite the chance Blackpool’s fans were beginning to get restless as the away side continued to be the ones to play all the football. Lee on the wing was causing real problems down the left, and on 21 minutes he was again right in the thick of the action.

This time he cut inside of White before shooting towards the near post, Doyle was a match to it – it was another warning. Yet another game six minutes later, and again it was Lee at the heart of it.

This time a cute turn inside the 18-yard box created space before his effort was deflected wide by Tom Aldred.

Lee looked like a player with a point to prove.

Blackpool were struggling to have anything like a sustained spell of possession, with strike pair Jacob Blyth and Mark Cullen hardly getting a look in.

McDonald’s men looked lethargic and heavy on their feet against a side many expected them to beat, and Colchester once again came at them on 36 minutes.

This time former Oldham striker Porter turned when under pressure before dragging a shot wide from 18 yards.

How Blackpool were still on level terms at this point no-one knew, the supporter boos around Bloomfield Road was a sign of just how impatient they were becoming.

Despite it being a terrible half for the Seasiders, on the stroke of half-time they conjured up one of the game’s best chances. Good work by Norris found Danny Philliskirk six yards from goal, only for the striker to side foot wide.

It was ironic that after such a poor half Blackpool should end it with the game’s best chance.

At the break there’s no doubt McDonald would have had more than a few words to say to his players about the display, but it was Colchester who again started brightest.

And they couldn’t have come much closer to opening in the very first seconds when Massey found space 12 yards from goal before rattling Doyle’s post.

As the blue skies turned grey and the rain began to fall, Blackpool’s luck would finally run out. Another Colchester attack saw the ball lifted towards Porter who’s first effort was blocked by Clark Robertson only for the ball to sit up perfectly for him to fire past Doyle.

It was as easy a finish as he’ll have, Pool’s keeper had no chance. It prompted McDonald to make a double substitutions, ones which seem to infuriate the home support.

‘You don’t know what you’re doing’ rang around Bloomfield Road as McDonald make like-for-like changes, bringing on Jack Redshaw and Bright Osayi-Samuel in place of Cullen and Philliskrik.

I can only imagine the home support wanted more positive changes. And they were at it again 10 minutes later, ironically jeering as Brad Potts was replaced by Liam Smith in the middle.

It was another off-day for Potts, who hasn’t been at the races often enough this season. He’s started to take a little stick from Pool’s fans who clearly think he’s failing to make the most of his obvious talent.

The change did lead to almost a brilliant chance for Redshaw who raced beyond the defence on to a Samuel flick, only for the striker to be inches away from guiding the ball past Elliot Parish.

But any late goal from the Seasiders wouldn’t have been deserved, and results elsewhere made it a shocking day for Blackpool.

My message to Pool’s players is that if you’re going to go down, at least go down fighting. On Saturday they rolled over and died.