Plymouth 0-3 Blackpool: Five things we learned
Blackpool FC writer Matt Scrafton takes a look at the key talking points from the Seasiders' stunning 3-0 victory at Plymouth.
Best performance of the season
That was by far and away the best Blackpool have played this season. Sure, they've picked up some impressive results against the likes of Portsmouth, Doncaster and Carlisle , but this was the complete away performance. The only way it could have got any better was if Pool showed more ruthlessness in front of goal and added another one or two goals, but that's just being picky. Pool were as solid at the back as I've seen them all season and limited the hosts to virtually no real chances of note. The fact that the home supporters began to ironically cheer after Argyle registered their first shot on target - in the 89th minute - tells its own story. The Seasiders' pressing was a delight to watch, they produced slick, one-touch passing and scored at just the right times. It's performances like this that make you wonder why Gary Bowyer's men are only 10th in the League Two table.
MOTM? Colin Daniel by a country mile
It's a little harsh to pick out one individual after what was a superb team display from back to front, but Colin Daniel was by far and away my choice for Man of the Match. The midfielder, who impressed at left wing back against Morecambe, was let loose in a traditional winger's role against Plymouth and somehow, he was even better. He beat his full back for pace time and time again but not only that, his deliveries into the box were a threat all night long - one of which fell to Brad Potts who scored for Pool's second. It was comfortably his best individual performance of the season but since he's returned from an injury that kept him out over the Christmas period, he's consistently been one of Pool's best performers.
4-3-3 worked a treat
Bowyer has tinkered around with different systems in the last couple of months - utilising 4-4-2, 3-5-2, 4-2-3-1 and even the diamond - but the 4-3--3 used against Plymouth couldn't have worked out any better. The formation allowed the Seasiders to make the most of their natural width, with both Colin Daniel and Nathan Delfouneso given the freedom to beat their man on the flanks and boy, did they do just that. I've always preferred Pool when they're playing with a flat back four, because you know exactly who is going to play when everyone is fit. A settled side helps, as we saw back in November/December time when Bowyer's men enjoyed a lean spell with what was virtually an unchanged side week after week, barring injuries and suspensions. Injuries have certainly been a problem for Pool in attack this season, but Mark Cullen has took advantage of Kyle Vassell's personal misfortune to bag two goals in the last two games.
Do Pool stick with Dean Lyness in goal?
Whenever Sam Slocombe has been out injured, Pool's number two 'keeper Dean Lyness has proven to be a lot more than just an able replacement. He deserved to pick up a clean sheet against Morecambe but was denied one when the Shrimps scored a late consolation, but he got exactly what his performance deserved against Plymouth. Lyness' distribution was noticeably improved, which helped eased the pressure on the back four and even helped set up a number of attacks. Another thing that helped ease the pressure on his defenders was the manner in which he dominated his penalty area, which was mightily impressive. Plymouth ran out of ideas in the second half and all they could offer was long balls into the Blackpool box, but Lyness was there time and time again to claim. Slocombe isn't expected to be out for long but given his recent form, I'd argue it would be a little harsh to drop Lyness back to the bench.
Players "get excited" when they see grass on the pitch
So says Gary Bowyer, anyway. And who am I to argue? In all seriousness, Pool's game is clearly suited to high-tempo, counter attacking football but the ability to do just that is often hindered at Bloomfield Road, where the issues with the lack of grass is well documented. Whereas Plymouth's large pitch is like a bowling green, just like Carlisle United's is (where Pool won 4-1), and you can see just what effect that had on Pool's game. It allows the likes of Jordan Flores and Jack Payne, who both put in wonderful solo displays at Home Park, the opportunity to get on the ball and dictate the game, while Brad Potts, Colin Daniel and Nathan Delfouneso all want the ball at their feet too. The larger the pitch the better too, as it allows the Seasiders to stretch the game and counter at breakneck-speed, as they've done time and time again this season.