VERDICT: Blackpool finish pre-season preparations with friendly draw at Crewe
Finally, the monotonous tedium of pre-season friendlies is at an end following today's 1-1 draw at Crewe Alexandra.
MATCH REPORT: Crewe Alexandra 1-1 Blackpool
The result means the Seasiders remained unbeaten during their summer games, both in public and behind closed doors, although however much can be taken from that is doubtful.
The only thing we know for sure is that, come 3pm next Saturday when Blackpool take on Wycombe Wanderers, today’s result at Gresty Road will count for diddly squat.
However, there are certainly positives to take from this afternoon’s outing. While Pool didn’t manage to hold on for the win, there were plenty of encouraging signs - especially in a first half in which they dominated. Their performance was much improved from their previous display at AFC Fylde.
Crewe struggled to get a foothold in the game for the first 20 minutes as Blackpool asserted their dominance from the first minute.
There were clear and concise patterns of play, Pool were calm and patient in possession and they carried much more of a threat in attack. Basically, everything we didn’t see at Mill Farm on Tuesday night.
Chris Taylor took his goal very well too, curling home into the top corner following Joe Dodoo’s lay-off.
As is often the case with friendlies, the second half was something of a non-event - Crewe’s equaliser aside.
Nick Anderton will be disappointed with his attempted clearance, which ended up falling to Alex Nicholls inside the Blackpool area and the Crewe forward found the bottom corner, with the aid of a deflection.
It was good to see Pool posing a threat from set pieces, usually courtesy of the impressive Michael Nottingham.
The 29-year-old, signed from Salford City earlier this summer, looks to be a player with bags of potential.
The defender, who played on the right hand side of a back three today, is tall, strong and dominant. There's plenty still to work on, but he looks like exactly the sort of player Gary Bowyer is likely to improve over the coming months, just as he has done with so many before.
The comparisons to Curtis Tilt write themselves - a late developer plucked from non-league obscurity. Given the recent speculation regarding Tilt, Nottingham could end up playing more regularly than originally expected.
Harry Pritchard, also signed from non-league, is another one who has shown glimpses of potential during the friendlies. The attacking midfielder, signed from Maidenhead United in May, certainly has skill. He’s very good on the ball and always seems to pose a threat when he’s in the opposition final third.
Regulars Jay Spearing and Mark Cullen also showed what they’re all about. Cullen, leading the line alongside Dodoo, showed some deft touches to hold the ball up and linked up well with his midfield teammates. But the main thing for him is just to keep playing to continue building up that fitness.
Spearing, meanwhile, dominated the midfield while remaining calm and composed on the ball throughout. I’m confident with a full pre-season at the club behind him, the former Liverpool man will play a leading role for the Seasiders this coming season.
Pool’s pre-season displays can be analysed ad nauseum but the most important thing for Blackpool is to have a fully fit squad at their disposal for next week’s all-important trip to Adams Park.
It doesn’t appear as though there were any fresh knocks today. Otherwise the only ones to miss out were Jimmy Ryan, Ryan McLaughlin, Paudie O’Connor and Marc Bola.
The latter was absent after missing training on Friday through illness, while the others are all carrying knocks which aren’t thought to be serious. Hopefully they are all available for next Saturday’s curtain raiser.
Between now and then, the focus will be on Ipswich’s pursuit of Tilt and Pool’s continued attempt to bolster their ranks. Another forward or two is certainly a must.
Elsewhere, we await further news in the ongoing saga between Owen Oyston and Valeri Belokon (I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve written that).
The sounds coming out of Latvia seem to suggest there could be some sort of update this coming week, although what that might entail remains unclear. An educated guess would suggest it will relate to the auctions, but we’ll wait and see on that one.
Meanwhile the silence in Oyston’s camp remains deafening, but what’s new there?
Today Oyston was again joined by Jonathan Disley in the directors’ box, just as he was at Port Vale last week. But still we’re yet to hear of any news. Is he genuinely close to agreeing some sort of deal (although in true Oyston style, he's already missed the deadline for that), or is he just playing for time once again? You decide.
It rumbles on and on...