Blues 1-1 Blackpool


March 6, 2013 by Made In Brum

I’m staying up late tonight, having foregone the Champions League highlights, to bring you a report of our disappointing 1-1 draw at home to Blackpool. Don’t say I don’t spoil you!

3 points had to be the target for us going into the game. It was a home match against a team in a similar position to ourselves, these are the sort of matches we should be winning 2 times out of 3. ‘Should’, of course, being the key word here. I was a little concerned about the threat of Tom Ince down their right side, but hoped Ferguson, having experience at playing left back in the past, could help out Hancox and nullify his threat.

For the first 30 minutes of the game, Blackpool impressed me. They passed the ball around quite simply, but with a constant sense of movement, tempo and purpose, and all of their play seemed to revolve around their much lauded whizzkid, Tom Ince.

Ince was Blackpool’s livewire tonight, and he signified his intentions early on. He found the side netting almost a matter of seconds into the game, and would have created a one-on-one opportunity for himself 15 minutes in, had it not been for a superbly-timed last ditch challenge from Hancox. Experienced heads Davies and Robinson – not for the only time tonight in Robinson’s case – were caught out of position to leave the young left-back exposed to Ince. It looked a worrying situation given the England U21 star’s explosive pace, and a mistimed tackle would have unquestionably led to a red card for Hancox. He seemed to have evidenced his growth in experience by timing it perfectly though, to leave a rather disgruntled Ince lying flat on his face.

Blues grew into it as the half went on. On the half-hour mark, Peter Lovenkrands found a chance. He latched onto Nikola Zigic’s trademark knock-down, and got to the ball ahead of keeper Matt Gilks, but could only flick it across the face of goal.

Before Blues got on top though, it was a case of one good, one bad for Butland. He uncharacteristically dropped a cross from deep, but he atoned for his error only two seconds later, by producing a fine reflex save to deny Gary Taylor-Fletcher his first goal for 8 games. It was a save you wouldn’t have needed to make if you’d have actually caught the ball though, Jack! No brownie points for you there…

Although Blues had more of the ball from then on, the half looked to end goalless before Curtis Davies powered home a cracking header, unchallenged, from Burke’s corner. And it could have got better just before the interval. Burke bombed down the right, something he’d done nothing of for most of the first half, but the shear force of his cross meant Zigic could only get vague contact at the near post, and was unable to direct the ball as he would have liked.

With the momentum very much swinging in our favour after the goal, I thought the interval had come at the wrong time for us, yet it didn’t seem to disrupt our rythym in the early stages of the second half. Lovenkrands ghosted in from the left with the ball, you could say was unlucky to hit the post, but he also had the earlier opportunity to square the ball to Zigic, who was well-placed to score.

On 70, Clark made a questionable decision, which is not exactly unheard of him. He took off Hancox and stuck Wade Elliott on the left side of midfield, and moving Ferguson to left-back. I think it was a poor substitution. Hancox, with Ferguson often tracking back, seemed to be holding his own against Ince, and wasn’t injured at all. At the time we were actually winning, so I fail to understand why Clark thought taking off a defender and put on a midfielder would help. Although Ferguson can play at left-back, when winning a game, you’ve surely got to apply the philosophy: ‘if it ain’t broken, don’t fix’. The substitution made little sense to me.

With 15 minutes to go, we lost our lead and Blackpool found themselves an equalizer against the run of play. Kirk Broadfoot, the man who left Rangers last summer (whoever replaces him there has got big shoes to fill), nodded home Neal Eardley’s corner to restore parity.

After that goal, Blues looked to try and find a winner from somewhere. Lovenkrands, who had had a bit of a hapless evening if not for lack of trying, came off and Wes Thomas was brought on. Chris Burke played a key part in the admittedly not-so grand finale of the match. Whenever he ran with the ball down the right, which he did several times, I had a genuine feeling that he could conjure something up for us out of nothing, because he was such a handful in the remaining minutes.

It was his cross from the right that picked out Wade Elliott. He was completely unmarked at the back post, the keeper was out of position, just 10 yards from goal, this was his big moment to take us that step closer to safety, he surely couldn’t miss, and Elliott…  skied the ball into the stands. Opportunity wasted. People have been saying that the ball caught a big bobble before he hit it, which for me is a bit of an excuse. He’s a professional footballer and should be scoring such an easy chance in my book.

I left the ground with a feeling of missed opportunity, in more ways than one after Elliott’s miss. Our last two home games have been against Sheffield Wednesday and Blackpool, both teams in the lower-reaches of the table, and at home those are the sort of matches we’ve got to be winning if we want to become a competent force in the Championship. Mixed with the positives of having just 2 defeats from our last 10 league games, are the negatives of only having won 1 home game from our last 9. Long gone are the days under Hughton when we could normally rely on a home game for 3 points, and in my opinion, our home form is what we need to sort out.

The draw keeps us both 5pts clear of the drop, and so frustratingly still a part of the relegation picture.

My player ratings

Butland- fumbled for the ball a couple of times, didn’t make too many saves. Only noticeably good one was making up for his error and Blackpool only had 4 shots on target. Will be tiny bit harsh and give him 4.

Caddis- most of Blackpool’s play down their right, Caddis didn’t do much. Made some decent forward runs to try and overlap Burke, just nudges him up to 6 for me.

Davies- have to rank him up for the goal, didn’t notice him make many mistakes apart from pressing too far up occassionally. 7.

Robinson- wasn’t happy with him at all. To be fair, not a natural centre-back, but caught out of position all too often. 3.

Hancox- unsure why taken off, made great last ditch challenge first half,  probably didn’t play enough to get higher than 6.

Burke- terrible first half, awesome second. Lost ball far too much first, but got assist for Davies and after break his driving runs with the ball were constant threat. Would say 6 is about right.

*SPECTOR- just about my man of the match. Offered us solidity in the middle I thought, didn’t get out of position much, which kept positional structure of team in place. 7.

Reilly- didn’t see too much of him. If we’d won, I’d maybe appreciate more his ability to help his team, often be in space and play simple pass. But we haven’t, so I’m feeling less charitable towards him! 5.

Ferguson- quiet first half, but perhaps due to Clark’s instructions for him to track back and deal with Ince? That he did okay, but wasn’t so good when moved to left-back, so 4.

Zigic- his flick-ons up top found an orange shirt more often than blue, but in fairness he was tiny bit isolated. I’d say a 5, but he did get knock-down for Lovenkrand’s miss first half.

Lovenkrands- misplaced too many overly ambitious passes. Felt he did the hard work, but not the simple things well enough, plus his aforementioned misses. 4.

And the subs…

Elliott- has been poor last two games, would criticize Clark’s decision to put him on. His late miss, and fact he did nothing else, brings him down to 3 in my eyes.

Thomas- pressured keeper and back four looking for mistakes in final minutes, as we chased win. Thought his chasing down was worthy of a 6.

Prediction results

We’ve done well this week, 3 people have predicted 1 apiece! Congratulations to @JIMMYRICHO98, @tiltonstruggler and @benlowe22.

Twitter thoughts

@kpaterso1875: I’ve seen more movement up front from Lovenkrands than I’ve seen King do all season. Why was Elliott brought on? Reilly man of the match, lost opportunities in front of goal first half, too many errors first half in defence, second half a lot better.

@Danny_B_1989: (on Elliott’s miss) if he puts his foot over the ball and plays it down he scores, he brought his foot to the ball and that’s why it went way over.

@andylorton: 2 extra points would have been gained with King tonight. Wolves might pick up after win. Worrying.

@AvrGraham: he had loads of time to put his foot on the ball then shoot. Mind you, he wasn’t the only one guilty of not scoring #zigic

By Gabriel Sutton


6 thoughts on “Blues 1-1 Blackpool

  1. JohnR200 says:

    Poor game but we did enough to win it. Wasted quite a few chances with Elliott being the biggest culprit.
    I don’t know whether or not it was the late night but your ratings were a little harsh.
    Zigic for me was Blues man of the match, not all of his flicks were successful but when he brought the ball down and played it with his feet he always found a blue shirt. As usual he got no protection from the referee.
    Robinson got better and he is always brave, playing out of position he was OK after the first 20 minutes.
    Hancox was injured so you’ve been unfair on Clark.
    I thought Spector was OK but not MOM for me.
    When the match started you could see what the Hull match had done to them as the team were totally lacking in confidence and no one wanted the ball.
    I don’t remember a game at home this season that I’ve actually enjoyed. No surprise to me then that it was the lowest crowd of the season.

  2. Made In Brum says:

    Hi John, you’re probably right I think it was! Felt a bit irritable too after dropping the points.

    Zigic- I thought was too isolated, but did okay in the circumstances. I just thought Burke and Ferguson didn’t cut inside to support him enough from the flanks, and both Reilly and Spector are slightly more defensive minded players. I don’t think we used Zigic to his full ability last night, because he is a massive handful when he’s got players making runs around him. He didn’t get that I didn’t think.

    Robinson- I don’t tend to take it into account when a player isn’t playing in his natural place. Maybe I noticed the first 20 minutes more than the rest of his game, but I also think being brave and sticking to your position are the bare minimum requirements of a defender.

    Hancox- fair enough, I didn’t notice the knock. (if you read my other posts, I’m not a Clark hater at all. Think we have little options but to get behind him, but I’m calling it as I see it).

    Spector- personally I thought Blackpool would have had a lot more joy through the centre had it not been for Spector’s positioning. He helped keep the team’s shape in my opinion.

    And agreed, I don’t like the direction that this team – and this club – is going in, in terms of overall confidence. It can be painful to watch, but if we can make sure we stay up this season, then maybe we can attract a new board, and then who knows? Maybe our time will come again.


    • Dan B says:

      Got to confess that whilst Lee Clark’s really got me ‘off-side’ @ the current time I was surprisingly impressed with his starting XI last night.
      A lot of people have said @ various times during the season that Clarky doesn’t tell the players to make a bad bass or to miss a chance & this was clearly in evidence last night, granted we’ve been nowhere near as fluent or entertaining as we was last season but we created 3 golden goal scoring opportunities last night, the fault for these misses can only sit with Ziggy (twice) & Elliott’s one @ the end of the game, I honestly think these 3chances was our best of the game, the goal was a tougher chance (going through a crowded penalty area is never easy and always risky) and Shabba was particularly unlucky in the 1st half (seeing the ball dribble just wide from the Gil Merrick was tough to take) and then his shot onto the post in the 2nd half.
      Last night was not Lee Clark’s fault, it was simply a combo of lady luck not being on our side and players not taking exceptionally good goal scoring opportunities.
      However all that being said I still would have liked to have seen a Morrison or a Redmond to come on to give Bpool far more to think about in the final 15minutes as they seemed to mix things up and get a grip on our game plan.

      • Made In Brum says:

        @Dan B Yes, I think the way we started the second half was a big improvement on the first half overall. The reason we didn’t win was obviously down to simple mistakes in front of goal, but I don’t think you can leave Clark blameless for that. I reckon that if he’d instilled more confidence into the players, they would play with more of a belief that they will score the goal. Psychology and confidence is a very understated part of football in my opinion, and as John says, the way we started the first half we played with very little confidence. On the other hand, the goal before the break probably gave us a lift, maybe Clark’s half-time team talk worked also, because I saw a vast improvement in terms of our tempo and overall threat.

        I wouldn’t have minded so much about lady luck not being on our side last night if we were midtable or pushing for the play-offs, yet performances over the season haven’t all been bad. But the table doesn’t lie and I don’t believe you can continue blaming it on luck. Even if Clark has most players working hard for the team, I think some responsibility must lie with him for not instilling confidence in his team, to keep the ball and put away the simple chances. Surely that’s part of the manager’s job?

  3. Dan B says:

    MiB I see where your coming from, it’s a curiously tight line when discussing or attempting to work out whose at fault for where our seasonal short comings lie. I fully agree with your point that if we was guaranteed a mid-table finish we’d accept lady luck not swinging for us but of course we’re in a position where every little thing in a game goes right for us so it is exceptionally frustrating that things didn’t go our way last night.
    In regards to the lack of confidence I can accept this point for Elliott as he’d clearly been benched in favour of a loanee playing on the left wing and an inexperience (all be it promising) rookie starting in CM so I can only imagin he was attempting to smash the ball as hard as possible to make sure it flew into the back of the net and show Clarky good reason to start him on Saturday.
    As far Ziggy’s chance in the 1st half I was down in the Gil Merrick Lower and could immidiatly see the reason he sent the ball wide was that he simply did not open his body up enough to caress the ball past the keeper. Now is this down to a lack of confidence or his lack of technical ability??
    The confidence side of it will always get me to offer a reply as I personally believe Clark is not a very good motivational manager, he always seems very angry and displeased with things and one can only imagin how this comes across in match day team talks or on the training ground when he’s discussing tactics with the players. My biggest gripe of this is the game away @ Wolves this season. We went in 1-0 down due to a slightly flukey OG from King but in my eyes we’d completly outplayed Wolves and their beloved South Bank was non too pleased before the goal. That being said we come out for the 2nd half and looked as if we was 4-0 down and had recieved a right rollocking off Clarky at half time, I know the players will never say anything on the matter but I’d love to know what exactly was said during this half time as I felt a simple: well done lads, keep it going and the rewards will come would have been more than enough but as I said whatever was actually said left the players very timid, afraid and negative and of course we went on to loose without every really offering a fight in the 2nd half

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