Date:Tuesday October 23 2012
October 23rd, 2012 - 20:00
Had they won, it would have masked the shambolic. Had they lost, it would have been grossly unfair. At times of need, and staring at a five defeat in six these were those, you need characters to stand tall, to be counted, and to provide the quality to lift from a slump.
So, the introduction of a diminutive Frenchman - his constant personal battle at Bloomfield Road enigmatic at best, unprofessional at worst - was the spark Blackpool so dearly craved with half an hour left against Nottingham Forest.
Elliot Grandin, back in the squad for the first time since stealing a penalty off Nathan Delfouneso on September 18th, scored the equaliser and injected an impetus into the home side's game missing for large chunks of this one.
Such was his impact on what had been a dour performance, the Seasiders looked to have won it with 15 minutes remaining thanks to a miss-hit Gary Taylor-Fletcher shot, but were unable to hang on; Dexter Blackstock pounced on lacklustre defending to steer beyond the helpless Matt Gilks with moments to go.
Before all that, Pool had gifted Forest the gumption and eventually the lead, with a midfield trio of Ludovic Sylvestre, Tiago Gomes and Isaiah Osbourne devoid of attacking ideas and seemingly confused as to how the manager, Ian Holloway, wanted them to operate rotationally.
Billy Sharp had opened the scoring in the 25th minute. Pool failed to clear a corner correctly - handing possession to Danny Collins, whose shot was deflected into the path of the unmarked Sharp, eight yards out, to flick the visitors ahead.
But the story of the night is not how both sides failed to hold the advantage - the pair each had the chance to break into the top six with a win - but the re-emergence of Grandin, so long out in the cold but once again proving that his class is something that simply cannot be ignored any longer by Holloway.
The manager would stay true to form if he weren't to pick the midfielder again for weeks, but the lack of ideas stemming from his chosen three dictate that he may have to swallow some pride and pick Grandin on a weekly basis.
At 25, it might be hoped that the player has more common sense than to sulk about Squires Gate but his undeniable talent is one in which will haul the team out of its predicament that had looked like engulfing them once again for long spells on Tuesday night.
The limp portrayal of a football team on Saturday at Burnley was mirrored against Sean O'Driscoll's side who were not only well-organised, but possessed nous going forward and excellent options up front. Sharp was partnered by Simon Cox, the latter spurning a wonderful opportunity in the first half which may have put the game beyond the hosts.
It seems an endemic thought among the Championship that how to beat Blackpool is to flood the midfield, something Forest mastered early, and it clearly bears fruit. Holloway has known this for weeks, yet one-paced, gut-wrenchingly obvious possession football is continuingly served up in the arrogant hope/expectation the opposition will cave. That is almost fine when you have the skill and guile of Grandin; less so when Gomes heads the midfield.
Throwing caution to the wind is what Blackpool do best - from the 65th minute they blew the visitors away - and it is to that which Holloway must have a genuine think about reverting back to. The squad Ollie has assembled, his fault or not [Oyston], is not capable of the fluidity he hankers for. This is a situation not easily fixed, but a back-to-basics approach is a necessity in the coming weeks.
And I didn't even mention the back four.
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Date:Tuesday October 23 2012
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