Shrewsbury Town 2 - 0 Blackpool
We knew that it wasn`t going to be a full team squad playing at the New Meadow with six players injured - Evatt, Broomes, Crainey, Taylor-Fletcher, Kay and Jorgensen. Danny Coid had recovered from injury to start at left back. Before the kick off Shaun Barker and Steve Kabba picked up injuries in the warm up which forced Simon Grayson to put out a makeshift back four. From left to right, Coid, Baptiste, Martin and Halls, they played in front of Gilks. Midfield left to right Hammill, Wright, Fox and Green. Ben Burgess who was due to start on the bench partnered McPhee.
It was the first time for me and Pool at the New Medow, a ground on the outskirts of town similar to Scunthorpe or Northampton, as mentioned in the preview to this match they`ve spent well in the summer and former Pool player Paul Simpson has got them playing some good football. They lined up with former Pool players Mike Jackson and Grant Holt starting with another former Seasider Richard Walker on the bench.
Steve McPhee departed the game after 15 due to a couple of heavy challenges, it`s not clear if he was injured or Simon Grayson wanted to protect one of his two fit strikers. D'Agostino replaced him which saw Hammill move upfront with Burgess and D'Agostino on the left wing.
Town had two chances in the first half both falling to Grant Holt who had scored two on his debut against West Brom. The first a header was pushed round the post by Gilks and the second blocked by Gilks when Holt found himself one-on-one with the Pool stopper.
Pool had a couple of half chances, Hammill firing over from an acute angle and D'Agostino finding Green after a neat run, Green shot over the bar.
Overall a good first half but clear to see the inexperienced back four having problems with the presence of Holt and Ben Davies. At time Joe Martin was unable to challenge in the air and found himself out of position.
No changes at the half time break for either side and Town scored their two goals on 53 and 70, both good goals.
Neat build up play found Marc Tierney (brother of former Pool player Paul) in space on the left, he crossed for Dave Hibbert who glanced a header past Gilks.
Baptiste forced Gilks to make a save in between the two goals, a poorly directed header directed made Gilks dive to his right.
The second was a great goal, substitute Chris Humphrey ran the ball from his own half down the right, his cross was only half cleared by Baptiste straight to Ben Davies who smashed the ball home via the underside of the crossbar.
Jacko almost made it three with a header and Ben Burgess was unlucky not to grab a goal when his shot hit the underside of the bar, Garner in the Town goal managed to claw the ball away with Fox about to nod in.
So not a great result but really only three first team players started the game Burgess, McPhee and Hammill. The good point to come from the game was Hammill`s performance. We`ve seen enough videos of him playing in Scotland and for Liverpool reserves and he played how I expected. Willing to receive the ball, run at people, good feet and quick. He`s still young at it shows with him not releasing the ball at times of getting into a deadends but there`s not doubt in my mind that he`ll be a star at Bloomers.
Joe Martin didn`t look comfortable at centre back with the physical presence of Holt and Davis, it`s clear to see that he won`t be playing there come the start of the season and should perform well in any wide position. Halls did well at right back, much in the mold of Barker tall, calm on the ball and willing to get forward. Green I`m still not sure of, right wing isn`t his best position, he`s unable to win a header at the far post which Gary Taylor-Fletcher does so well.
Roll on the next match against Tranmere and good luck to Phil Horner, three injuries from tonight's game added to the six before hand means nine players in total with knocks.