Town 3-2 Blackpool

An entertaining Boxing Day game with Town coming from behind and scoring 3 for the second game in succession. There was a renewed feeling of togetherness from the team and the crowd and hopefully this new believe can spread into the New Year.

The game started on a poor note as Lees played a sloppy pass to Sinani which the impressive Bowler cut out and fed Jerry Yates who outpaced Sarr and Lees to slot beyond Nichols. Fortunately though we only had to wait until the 3rd minute for the equaliser as Toffolo crossed for Ward to score with a thumping header into the top corner. The game continued to be open and there was no surprise when Blackpools’ stand out performer Anderson held off Sarr to cross for Madine to head home with Pearson well beaten. The game continued to go from end to end and then on the half hour mark Madine and Tom Lees challanged for a ball with Madine catching Lees full on in the head with his elbow. Lees collapsed to the floor and with him obviously in distress the referee played on as Blackpool attacked. When the ball went dead the physios were allowed to attend to Lees and Toffolo was booked for making the referee aware of the incident. Replays clearly show the elbow right in front of the referee. If there had VAR it would have been a clear red card regardless of intent. Fortunately Lees appears to be recovering now. The fact that the referee did not see anything or take action on the pitch means that the league should now suspend Madine but as we are not a high profile club I doubt it will happen.

The second half was more one sided aided someone by the 61st minute red card of Gabriel for Blackpool. He picked up his first yellow late in the first half for a very heavy and late challenge on Holmes and again was late with a challenge on O’Brien resulting in the second yellow. Rhodes had already come on for High which changed our formation and we had already started to get on top in the game prior to the sending off. It was then an onslaught of the Blackpool goal led by Thomas. Wave after wave of attack came and then Rhodes managed to turn a cross into the net which was quickly ruled out for off-side. I have not yet seen a replay but the decision was very tight. Blackpool did well at trying to slow the game down by going down for treatment but on the 80th minute Thomas played a one two with Sinani on the edge of the box and then again with Rhodes inside the box, side stepped a defender and then sent the keeper the wrong way. A goal out of the top drawer and you could see the relief for Thomas who has been trying to find his early season form. It was no surprise that just 3 minutes later Blackpool failed to clear a corner that Thomas had won and the Welsh international controlled his volley to rifle home through a crowded penalty area.

A massive improvement in performance in the second period. Blackpool had been the better side in the first half as we struggled to cope with Bowler and Anderson, but they should have clearly received a red card for the foul on Lees. In the second half the change of having 2 upfront and the experience of Rhodes made a big difference. We had more options and the was onbvious with the bodies getting into the area in teh second period in comparison to the first.

I believe that Critchley the Blackpool manager has blamed the defeat on the referee for sending off Gabriel when he says the first offence was not a yellow and the second there was no contact. I feel it is poor form for him to focus on this red card when they should already have had a red card and really if Critchley is going to criticise the ref then talking about the red card that wasn’t given when a man has been concussed would be more appropriate. The 2 yellow cards, having watched them back the first was a nailed on yellow card and I have seen more given for that type of challenge, the second one was not as bad but unlike Critchleys’ comments straight after the game there was clear contact.

Ratings

Nichols

Was beaten twice today but can’t be blamed for either goal. In the second half he got Town on the attack quickly with intelligent balls out from the back. Helped somewhat that he had 2 strikers to target anf Tofollo and Thomas given us width. Nichols did have one flap at a cross in the first half as Sarr also challenged for the same ball

Rating 7

Lees

Only had 30 minutes due to the injury. Inside the first 2 minutes it was his poor pass which Bowler easily intercepted to set up the opening goal. Not his best game, but I wish him a speedy recovery.

Rating 5

Pearson

He grew into the game as things progressed. Marking was poor though on Blackpools’ second goal as he allowed Madine far too much space to finish.

Rating 5

Sarr

Looked off the pace for most of the game. On the first goal Yates got past him far too easily and for the second he did not get close enough to Anderson to prevent the cross. Passing was far too slow from the back but did spray a few good cross field balls. He continues to look uncomfortable on the left side of a back 3 and is much happier as the central person when in this formation.

Rating 4

High

Continues to look good on the ball and gives less ball away then most others but defensively lacks the physicality. Will be good to get Hogg back when fit and get Scott on the weights to build up his physicallity or maybe the holding role is not is best position.

Rating 6

O’Brien

Busied himself about trying to stop Blackpool attacks but rarely threatened at the other end. Perhaps he should play more of a holding role until Hogg is back and bring Rhodes or Koroma on for more of an attacking presence.

Rating 6

Toffolo

Provided a perfect cross for Wards’ opener. Would still prefer to see him stay out on the left more than he does with the formation that we are using but had a solid game.

Rating 7

Sinani

Linked play up well but had to drop too deep to do so in the first half. Mostly because the balls into him were short though and he needs passes infront of him.

Rating 6

Holmes

Struggled to influence the game today and dropped too deep and took too many touches when he did get on the ball which was not too often. I’m not sure that I would start him for the next game.

Rating 5

Thomas (MOM)

Probed on the first half but his crosses faile dto find the right man with one going out for a throw in but his confidence returned in the second period. Thomas was able to find more space due to the Blackpool red card and gave ex Town loanee Husband a torrid afternoon. His first goal was real quality and the second expertly controlled. Thomas has been snatching at chances over the last few months but the last 30 minutes of the game should give him renewed confidence for the remainder of the season.

Rating 8

Ward

Took his early goal very well but struggled to really influence the game afterwards. Always a willing runner and worked hard, hopefully he can link up with Rhodes going forward.

Rating 6

Turton

Came on for Lees in the first half and did his job well. Turton does the basics well but fans often want more from him in an attacking sense. Which is fair enough but consistency and no mistakes is tsill a big positive.

Rating 6

King Carlos

Very positive from Carlos today. He made changes early in the second half and continued tiomake positive attacking changes. It was very refreshing that we had Rhodes, Rowe and Koroma to come off the bench who can offer a lot in the final third. Carlos needs to connect more with the fans and coming around the pitch at the end can only add to that. Sarr and Holmes were poor today and Colwill is likely to be unavailable for the next match due to Covid so it will be interesting to see how we line up for the next match.

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