Date:Sunday January 27 2008
26th January 2008 - 15:00
The Seasiders carried on their poor run of form after a defeat at Ashton Gate, where a game of two halves ended in a 1-0 defeat against table-toppers Bristol City, to stretch the winless run to four.
Not often does this happen - and very rarely two weeks on the trot - but 'Pool fans were again left bemused at Simon Grayson's tactics as he started the game with an unfamiliar 4-5-1 system, which looked like this:
Barker © - Evatt - Gorkss - Crainey
Morrell - Flynn - Fox - Jorgensen - McPhee
Bristol City kept it the same as they always do, and started with once Blackpool target Darren Byfield up front, and shaped up like this:
Bristol City (4-4-2):
Orr © - Vasko - McCombe - McAllister
Carle - Elliot - Johnson - McIndoe
Trundle - Byfield
It was obvious from the start who had been briefed correctly on what was expected of them, and the home side did all the early pressing, as The Tangerines looked all at sea. Lee Trundle had an early shot cleared behind for a corner after 'Pool were carved open, and Darren Byfield almost embarrassed Rachubka in goal from 40 yards.
Shortly after Trundle's chance, The Robins took a deserved lead. Once again (and this is now getting incredibly boring to write about) Rachubka didn't get enough on his clearance from a corner and it fell to Marvin Elliot who hit home the volley as City were gifted the lead. I'm not advocating for Rabs to be dropped by any stretch, but for all his shot stopping ability, it is clear what teams are targeting when they play us now; 'get set pieces and drop it under the goalkeeper - see what he does' must be pretty close to what opposition manager's are saying. After all, domination of his area is one of the reasons why Rhys Evans lost his place to Paul in the first place, and something desperately needs doing with the former Huddersfield stopper before it's too late. Perhaps the experience and guidance of Paul Gerrard will come in handy - I certainly hope so!
The story of the first half was sheer dominance by Gary Johnson's men, and after the break a totally different Blackpool side came out. Stephen McPhee had to be brought off because of a knee problem and was replaced by Wes Hoolahan, and we seemed to switch to 4-4-2, what we know - admittance by Larry that he had the tactics painfully wrong in the opening period.
Chances were aplenty for 'Pool, with Crainey hitting the bar from a freekick, along with a string of chances for Fox, Evatt and Morrell, the latter looking out of sorts all afternoon.
Both sides made changes (six in all, which is unusual) and the one with the most impact was Andy Welsh, who certainly hit back at his critics with a superb performance.
We kept pressing for the equaliser, but it remained elusive, certainly after Bristol went to 4-5-1 and then 5-4-1 as the game petered out and ended 1-0.
It's another defeat on the road, but if we had started with an attacking base instead of worrying about the opposition, perhaps we could've taken something from the match. What our tactics did show though is the strides Bristol City have taken this season and that they're a team to be watched closely. Perhaps a more potent point is that with some serious investment like Bristol's, 2007/08 season would have seen the emergence of Blackpool FC at the top of the table, but instead the management hasn't been backed in this January transfer window so far, and we continue to do our business on a shoe string.
New faces before Friday are needed, desperately.
Date:Sunday January 27 2008
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