VERDICT: Blackpool far from their best in AFC Fylde draw
Nathan Delfouneso's last-minute leveller might have spared Blackpool's blushes at AFC Fylde last night, but the result failed to hide what was a significantly under-par display from the Seasiders.
The Coasters, hosting Blackpool at Mill Farm for the first time, were the superior side for large chunks of the game and ought to have put the game to bed in a first half they dominated from the very first minute.
They were incisive, they were sharp and Blackpool simply couldn’t deal with their high pressing. Joe Cardle in particular was a constant thorn in their side.
On the flip side, Pool were slow and ponderous in possession as they attempted to build up attacks - eventually resorting to aimless long punts - having earlier struggled to keep hold of the ball in the face of Fylde’s constant harassing and closing down.
What impressed me most about Fylde’s pressing was the manner in which they fought to recover the ball after giving it away. Pool’s players just didn’t have anywhere to go.
The home side did tire towards the end as their flow was interrupted by a number of substitutions - many of them trialists.
That eventually saw Blackpool take a stranglehold of the game in the dying minutes, culminating in Delfouneso’s smartly-taken equaliser, his second goal in as many games.
It was a tidy finish from what was a good move from Blackpool, started by Chris Taylor who fed in Marc Bola to provide a pinpoint cross across Fylde’s six-yard box.
The late goal buoyed Gary Bowyer’s side and they even pushed for an unlikely winner in injury time, but that would have been incredibly harsh on the Coasters.
For Pool, they will be left to reflect on a disappointing show in front of a decent following from the Fylde coast.
While their performance wasn’t up to scratch, it was also surprising to see two or three players looking way off with their fitness.
Pool did look leggy, as admitted by assistant manager Terry McPhillips post-match, and maybe that’s a sign of recent games and training sessions catching up with them.
But it’s also glaringly obviously Blackpool are lacking in the forward department.
Armand Gnanduillet’s back-to-goal hold-up play has never been his strong point, and that showed as the ball failed to stick in the Fylde half.
Joe Dodoo and Nathan Delfouneso are a threat from the wings, but Pool are certainly missing a presence in the centre to link everything up.
Bowyer said on Saturday that it was "no secret" he wants to recruit one, if not two new strikers. On the evidence of last night, they're badly needed.
It’s at this point you realise how much Pool could end up missing Kyle Vassell, whose relentless chasing down pegged teams back in their own half, putting them under constant pressure and getting the Seasiders higher up the pitch.
As it was last night, the tangerines just couldn’t manage that and Fylde restricted them to very few, if any, clear-cut chances on goal.
Pool’s change to a back three at half time did improve things, although Fylde remained a threat in attack all night.
Thankfully, it was only a friendly and the positive is that Blackpool are yet to be beaten this summer. But they will have to be much better at Crewe on Saturday, their last friendly before their curtain raiser at Wycombe Wanderers on August 4.