There’s no hiding from the fact our visit to Ipswich was bitterly disappointing. From the change in formation, to the two soft goals either side of half-time, it was a bad day at the office. Portman Road is a ground no Blackpool side has ever won at, and given we were only one place behind them in the middle of League One, this was surely the best chance we’ll get to do it. But we have shown progress this season and therefore the performance itself was even more disappointing given we know what we are capable of.
1. The goals
Blackpool actually looked the better side throughout the majority of the first half and were in the middle of an attack through Sullay Kaikai when his pass was intercepted and a simple ball over the top left Alan Judge in acres of space to fire past Chris Maxwell. James Husband was caught well out of position – it was a really soft one to concede and must’ve hugely frustrated Critchley and Calderwood. The second one was from a corner, a ball which failed to beat the first man, but Jerry Yates unintentionally flicked it on to perfectly land on Luke Woolfenden’s head at the back post. That took the wind out of our sails and killed the tie after 49 mins. It’s a concern with how little hope we give ourselves when a goal or two down.
2. The formation
It’s no secret that we pose more of an attacking threat with two strikers on the field. Ellis Simms has impressed in his two appearances in tangerine so far and was unfortunate to be dropped for Elliot Emberton to make his debut behind Jerry Yates. Again, Embleton and Pool looked fine up until the first goal, and there wasn’t much going wrong until we were killed off by the soft goals. Hopefully it’s back to two up top on Tuesday.
3. Dougall and Stewart
The two have so much quality that it’s only right for me to call them out when they’re not at the races. I don’t think there is a better pairing in the league in terms of genuine ability. But at Ipswich, they didn’t impress. Both of them lacked creativity, got caught in possession too many times and got into each others’ way on occasion. Ipswich dominated our midfield, which is the first time that’s happened since the reverse fixture earlier in the season, before we had Dougall or Stewart in our side. It was really disappointing and sobering to see.
4. Maxwell cleaning out Troy Parrott
How he wasn’t sent off, I don’t know. What was he doing? The Pool captain came rushing out of his goal to try and win a ball he was never going to be first to, left Ekpiteta in two minds and cleaned out the ITFC striker. He was lucky to get away with a booking and that’s the first genuine mistake I can remember from Maxwell all season. An off day.
5. Ekpiteta’s decisions
I’m a big fan of Marvin and he had another excellent game on the whole, but a couple of times he made the wrong decision on the ball. One was when the ball was put across by James Norwood and the centre back should’ve cleared, but opted to take a touch and nearly put it in the path of an Ipswich striker to tap into an empty goal. He managed to recover by lunging in with a block but had clearly lost his bearings and been overly casual. Later in the game, a through-ball looked to be easy enough to deal with but he took a touch and gifted it straight to their striker with a clear run on goal. Again, we weren’t punished and he got away with it – hopefully it’s a learning for him as these are the first couple of errors we’ve seen from him in a long time and I’m confident it was just an off day and I’m holding him to the standards we know he’s capable of.
1. Husband and Kaikai linking up
Before the first goal, the left-hand side was our best attacking outlet. Sullay was drifting inside, Hubby was running down the outside and it was a joy to watch, causing real problems for Ipswich. Husband has looked a lot better going forwards in recent weeks and has arguably made the left-back spot his own since Luke Garbutt was left out with injury. But sadly all that good work was undone by the first goal when both were at fault.
2. The first 42 minutes
We dominated possession, created the clearest chances and looked well-placed to come away with at least a point. Embleton looked a threat with both feet, drifting into pockets of space and causing havoc. The attacks down the left were exciting, while Jordan Gabriel also got forwards on the other flank. Our defence looked composed and we looked the team most likely to score at the other end. I’ve covered what happened next.
3. We never win there anyway
We’ve given ourselves minimal room for this type of performance having lost six of our first 9 games so the pressure is on despite the fact we still have 22 games to play. But looking at this result and performance in isolation, Ipswich away is a game we never expect to take anything from – we never win there and the most we could’ve hoped for was a point and therefore it’s only one point dropped in my book. Our season won’t be defined by Ipswich away, it will be defined by our upcoming 13 home games.
4. The upcoming fixtures
Three home games in the next eight days. Burton Albion, who are bottom of the league, at Bloomers on Tuesday. Then it’s Peterborough and Rochdale. Let’s review where we are after those three, rather than making conclusions after this one.
5. Return to fitness for key men
Our bench was really stretched against both Wigan and Northampton, whereas we saw returns to the squad for Luke Garbutt, Grant Ward and Bez Lubala. We’re still without six men – the key one being Gary Madine, but Critchley is within his rights to make a few changes on Tuesday night now he’s got a strong number of options to refer back to on the bench. If players don’t perform, they’ll lose the tangerine shirt and that’s how it needs to be with six more games to play this month.
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