Doncaster Rovers 3-3 Blackpool
You'll have to forgive the unimaginative title to this match report. I tossed various ones around in my mind but couldn't settle on one. Why? Well it was a weird match wasn't it? We were woeful, yet scored three and nearly won the game!
For me, the reason why we aren't having the success on the road like we are at home is simple:
We're not getting enough possession or making enough use of it when we do have it. When we're at home, the opposition sit back and let us play our game. When we're away though, we need to work harder to get the ball and even harder to keep it. At the moment, we're not doing this. We're not winning the second ball and we're not defending from the front. We give the ball away too easily which invites undue pressure, especially away from home.
Today though, the team selection was also at fault. With Hamuer Bouazza missing through family reasons (everyone at Vital Blackpool wishes Hamuer's dad a speedy and full recovery), it was imperative that Billy Clarke started. I say this because ourselves and Doncaster are similar in our set-ups and I felt that Clarke's pace would allow us to get behind their defence and stretch the game. Indeed, you only have to look at Billy Sharp's performance for Doncaster today to prove my point.
As it was, Ben Burgess got the nod upfront with JET and Ormerod on the flanks. Jason Euell joined David Vaughan and Keith Southern in central midfield, whilst Ian Evatt returned to the side for the injured Neal Eardley with Alex Baptiste shifting to right back. Marcel Seip, Stephen Crainey and Matt Gilks retained their places in the starting XI.
Doncaster were ahead on five minutes after a swift counter attack. Jason Euell gave the ball away woefully on the edge of the Doncaster area as a promising 'Pool attack broke down and Rovers piled forward. John Oster burst forward at pace down the right and provided a great cross for Martin Woods to slam home impressive.
With their run of clean sheets at and end, the 'Pool defence looked shaky all afternoon, although both Matt Gilks and Marcel Seip were very impressive.
On fifteen minutes the home side should have been 2-0 up. Defender Sam Hird was found unmarked from a corner but he could only head wide. I say unmarked, Ben Burgess was right next to him but didn't jump. People harp on about how Burgess is great to have in the side for when defending set pieces, but personally I think he's bloody useless at doing so.
On 21 minutes, the Seasiders somehow found themselves level. David Vaughan's corner was headed towards goal by Ian Evatt and Brett Ormerod was on hand to force the ball home.
Just before the break Billy Sharp was sent scampering clear, but Matt Gilks made a fine save at his feet. Gilks will be unhappy at conceding three goals on the back of an impressive individual performance.
In first half stoppage time Brett Ormerod beat several Doncaster players as Blackpool counter attacked, but just as he was about to pull the trigger the ball was cleared for a corner.
Thirteen seconds (I know this because I looked at the clock straight after the goal) into the second half, the hosts were 2-0 up. Straight from the restart they broke down the left and Gareth Roberts crossed to Billy Sharp who fired home past Gilks.
Brett Ormerod's cross-cum-shot was deflected just wide and from the resulting corner Doncaster bombed forward yet again with Blackpool caught sleeping. Martin Woods fired straight at Matt Gilks however when perhaps he should have squared the ball to one of his team mates.
On the hour Ben Burgess missed a sitter. From about two yards out, he fired straight at Neil Sullivan. That's Burgess all over: he'll miss a chance like that and then score a pearler like he did later on. No wonder he divides the fans.
A minute later we were back on level terms however as JET magically jinked past the close attention of several defenders before firing home. JET gets a raw press from a lot of fans in my opinion. He's your typical Arsenal player; great on the ball, not so great off it. His goal today shows that he's a good player and I hope we retain his services for the whole season.
Matt Gilks was then called into action yet again, this time saving from Martin Woods and James Chambers. The more he plays, the more confidence I have in Gilks and the further he goes to establishing himself as our number one. It's great to finally have a keeper challenging Rabs for his jersey.
This was highlighted on 71 minutes when he saved yet again, this time from James Coppinger.
Martin Woods picked up a booking on 71 minutes for hacking JET down as the midfielder raced away down the left wing. A harsher referee might have given him his marching orders.
With 15 minutes left, Keith Southern broke through the Doncaster defence after a great ball from JET, but he could only power his finish straight at Neil Sullivan.
A minute later we were ahead though when Ben Burgess curled a cracker home. Cue the birdman celebration and mass celebration.
The game wasn't over though. Could we have closed it out? Yes, but instead we sat back and invited pressure. We'd cleared the first ball but not the second, and failed to get any possession to count down the clock. Ollie has made a point of saying how he doesn't like us doing this, but today he ordered JET and Ormerod to sit on top of the full backs, leaving Burgess up top all alone. This was only going to invite pressure, and ultimately Doncaster got the third goal they deserved.
JET did flash a shot just over, but once Doncaster went to three up front after bringing on James Hayter and Paul Heffernan, they launched attack after attack.
Martin Woods fired wide, before Billy Sharp beat the offside trap to score an equaliser despite 'Pool protestations. The goal came just before the fourth official put his board up for injury time.
The last chance of the match fell to 'Pool however; JET was hauled down just outside the area by James Chambers who was lucky not to see red. Stephen Crainey could only direct his freekick into the wall however. The ball went out for a corner, but before it could be taken the referee blew for full time.