Notts County 1-0 Blackpool: Five things we learned
Blackpool FC writer Matt Scrafton takes a look at the key talking points from the Seasiders' disappointing defeat at Meadow Lane.
There was a worrying lack of spark
Deafening fireworks welcomed the two sides onto the pitch at Meadow Lane on Saturday - a display that was in stark contrast to the ‘action’ that followed. Despite cancelling their end-of-season awards night out of respect for their now liquidated ladies’ team, Notts County still felt it appropriate to mark the entrance of the two teams with an underwhelming and cheap pyrotechnic display. Just what the 16th placed Magpies had to celebrate is beyond me but at the final whistle they were doing exactly that as they capped off their final home game of the season with a narrow 1-0 win against a distinctly under-par Blackpool side. The stats don’t often paint the whole story but the fact that Blackpool could only muster two shots on target says it all - and even then I’m struggling to remember them.
Timing of this performance will worry Bowyer
The Seasiders were abject but in truth, Notts County weren’t much better. Their football was basic, it was direct and it was fairly easy to defend. But when the one chance came their way it was dispatched, so Kevin Nolan certainly won't have any complaints. For Pool, other than a weak header from Brad Potts in the second half, they didn’t even create that one chance to put away. The timing of this performance is surely a worry for Pool boss Gary Bowyer given they’re just 90 minutes away from taking part in the League Two play-offs. Yes, somehow, despite their defeat the tangerines stayed above that all-important line and only need to beat an already-relegated Leyton Orient side on home turf to clinch their spot. To say Pool have been fortunate with other results going their way in recent weeks would be an understatement. They got out of jail on Saturday and they’ll only have themselves to blame if they don’t take advantage.
Where was Pool's cutting edge?
Bowyer’s men were a threat on the break in the opening half but time and time again their final ball was found wanting. One counter saw Neil Danns receive the ball in acres of space on the corner of the penalty area after Brad Potts had made one of his trademark surges through the middle, but the midfielder could only force a corner after his curled effort was deflected wide. The host’s only threat seemed to be from long balls and set pieces into the box but Pool defended them resolutely. But just after the half-hour mark they let down their guard as Richard Duffy rose highest to head home into an empty net after Sam Slocombe had done well to claw away Jorge Grant’s free kick from the top corner. You’d expect to see a reaction from Pool but it didn’t come. Not directly after the goal and not in the second half either. Brad Potts had Blackpool’s only clear chance of the second period but he could only head weakly at Collin after a long Jack Payne throw had dropped to him.
Seasiders were the masters of their own downfall
When you're playing a side with Jon Stead and Shola Ameobi in attack, it's not difficult to predict how they'll play. They want the ball into their feet, they want to earn flick-ons and they'll stretch the laws of the games to earn free kicks, throw-ins and corner kicks. Ameobi in particular was a constant menace and it was his physical presence that led to Tom Aldred pulling his shirt and wrestling him to the ground for the free kick that led to County's goal. It was a naive bit of defending because Aldred did exactly what Ameobi wanted him to - he fell into the trap and ultimately, that's what cost Blackpool. In open play the Magpies offered very little and it was clear if they were going to score, it was going to come from a set piece or a long throw. So it was a silly, pointless foul to give away.
Now attention turns to next week...
Next week Blackpool will need to beat an Orient side somehow mired in more off-the-field problems than themselves. A pitch invasion by an estimated 750 fans almost forced Orient’s 3-1 defeat against Pool’s play-off rivals Colchester United to be abandoned early before they were eventually condemned to their 29th defeat of the season. The game finally finished two hours after it was originally due to, although it was behind closed doors with not a single supporter in sight. The doomed O’s, now under their fifth manager of the season, have endured a torrid season and their fans are calling for owner Francesco Becchetti to go. Many of those fans will make the long trip to the Fylde coast next weekend to take part in a joint protest dubbed ‘Judgement Day 3’ with their Blackpool counterparts. Bowyer, his staff and his players won’t want the protesters’ day of action to detract from what is a massive 90 minutes of football for them. But they’ll do well to escape the headlines.