Our new addition to the utmp writing team is George Wincott whose YouTube account – ItsRamos – has nearly 3k subscribers. George previews the upcoming game against Doncaster Rovers. Welcome to the team, George! UTMP
The Seasiders will be looking for a sixth consecutive victory as we head to the Keepmoat Stadium on the back of Saturday’s unexpected victory at then-table topping Peterborough United. The win was one that very few would have predicted before the ball was kicked. Doncaster themselves head in to the clash in decent form, having picked up two draws and win out of their last three league games, and sit two places above Blackpool in 11th. A win for either side could propel them as high as ninth place, as both clubs will surely be looking to creep into the play off contention.
The Tangerines have a great track record in South Yorkshire, registering six wins in our last eight visits to the Keepmoat Stadium, which bodes well for the upcoming fixture. That said, the last meeting between the two sides was far from comfortable. The travelling fans caught a last-gasp victory, with Armand Gnanduillet heading home a stoppage time winner, sparking jubilant scenes in the away end. A similar result on Tuesday would be perfect for the Pool to continue our surge up the League One table, with boss Neil Critchley hoping that ‘Yorke and Cole’ – Madine and Yates – can continue their fine goalscoring form after both bagged in each of the last two games.
I LOVE 4-4-2!
This tie promises to be another decent test for us as we enter the toughest period of our season so far in terms of the upcoming fixtures. With the likes of Portsmouth, Fleetwood, Sunderland and Hull beckoning, we can take plenty from Saturday’s commanding performance. Neil Critchley opted to stick with the successful 4-4-2 system which has been so effective for the Seasiders, seeing three victories out of its last three league appearances. Dare I say it, but it feels like Blackpool have finally found their winning formula.
The old school 4-4-2 formation offers a balanced, controlled and secure team shape, and offers multiple areas of support in each department. This is what allowed Blackpool to keep a steady shape, and control large parts of the game on Saturday against what can usually be described as a free flowing, attacking Peterborough United outfit.
Despite the Posh going in favourites, Blackpool’s bright start caught Posh cold and that’s exactly how we should be starting games – as we did in pre-season. Jerry Yates opened the scoring on 19 minutes. It’s fantastic to see the confidence boost in Yates after scoring his first few goals in tangerine, as he continues to look sharp in the forward line. One thing 4-4-2 offered the Pool was a strength in width, with CJ Hamilton and Sullay Kaikai continually dragging the Peterborough back line out of position. This allowed plenty of room for Yates and Gary Madine, who outnumbered the opposition defence, causing all kinds of free space in the penalty area.
Despite committing plenty of bodies forward, the formation helped support a stable midfield for Blackpool with Hamilton and Kaikai easily able to rush back and support the full-backs when needed. Hopefully this is something we can repeat to the same standard in the Doncaster clash. In the centre of the midfield, Grant Ward accompanied the impressive Kenny Dougall, who makes us look comfortable despite only having two players in the middle of the pitch when we had previously had three. Ward offered the attacking support and visionary passing going forward, whilst Dougall battled like a dog off its lead to win the ball back, and continued running ragged after the Peterborough midfield five.
Lets talk some more about Kenny Dougall. What a player! Ever since he slotted into the midfield against Burton he’s looked at ease, like he’s been here for years in fact, whilst also showing what an experienced, well rounded professional he is on the football pitch. Dougall offers quality in both the attacking and defensive areas of midfield, whether that be moving the play forward with his excellent range of passing or closing down and intercepting lose balls in those tight midfield areas. Dougall looks the complete midfielder, and it’s clear to see why, having registered over 39 appearances for Barnsley at Championship and League One level combined. He surely has to be one of the first names on the team sheet against Donny.
Blackpool’s back line was superb on Saturday, with a controlled defensive unit that kept Peterborough, who arguably have the best attack in the league, at bay for the majority of the afternoon. The stand out defender for me was Marvin Ekpiteta. Having often looked uncomfortable and susceptible at the back this season, Marvin has come on leaps and bounds in recent weeks. He mastered the back line on Saturday, and martialed the Peterborough attack away from any sniff of the Blackpool goal, along with central defensive partner Daniel Gretarsson. A really impressive pairing, one that Northern Ireland international Dan Ballard will have to be mindful of when working his way back into the Blackpool team. I’d love to see that partnership again in Tuesday’s fixture. With the the 4-4-2 formation impressing in all departments on Saturday, it was gutting to see us concede a late equaliser through one lapse of defensive concentration from a set-piece. Having expertly kept the Posh attack at bay, they had to rely on a defender to get them back in the game as birthday boy Frankie Kent stormed into the box unmarked on 80 minutes. It was a harsh reality for Blackpool after such a dominant, inspiring performance.
Yorke And Cole!
You know what they say… never say never in football. There was still time for late drama, and for the Seasiders to get what our performance thoroughly deserved. They did so by utilising the 4-4-2 formation to its full potential, as CJ broke away down the right hand side. After expertly beating his man, he flashed the ball across the penalty area, and fate took hold as the ball dropped to Gary Madine who calmly stroked the ball into the back of the net as the game headed to injury time.
It was a hard fought, thoroughly deserved three points. Later on in the post match interview, Madine compared his and Jerry Yates partnership to that of Man United legends Dwight Yorke and Andy Cole, one that boss Critchley will be hoping lives long into the season.
Having won all of our last three league games playing 4-4-2, it’s highly likely that that’s how we’ll lineup on Tuesday night against Doncaster. It’ll be good for Critchley to change things up later on in the season when teams begin to find us out, but it’s surely a no brainer to stick with a winning formula here.
Personally I’d bring Ethan Robson into the midfield for Grant Ward on Tuesday, as I think he offers more of an attacking presence with his creative eye for a pass. Apart from that, I’d keep the rest of the side the same for Tuesday’s trip to South Yorkshire. It’s great to see the team finally gel, with the attacking partnership of Yates and Madine finding their feet, and the defensive duo of Ekpiteta and Gretarsson. Lets hope for another positive result on Tuesday night. UTMP!
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