What a start! Never had us down as a set-piece team but we’re making the most of them. Couple that with some fantastic passing and performances from Dan Ballard, Kenny Dougall and Sullay Kaikai and us Pool fans are dreaming of the play-offs after our fourth successive away victory.
1. Dougall’s first goal in tangerine
King Kenny grabs his first goal for the Pool, even if it was very scrappy – he won’t care and neither do we! It was great to see his influence on the game after being largely overshadowed by Stewart in recent weeks. He threaded Yates in soon after the first and it was a shame Yates wasted that chance by being too flamboyant.
2. Set Pieces
In earlier games in the season we would not have been able to maintain the pressure in the earlier minutes, on a side who were really under the cosh. We did very well with three consecutive corners which slowly turned the screw on Oxford United’s defence – which, let’s be honest, did superbly well with dealing with the initial pressure and Ballard header. The plaudits should go to both Kaikai who was my MOTM and Garbutt who were excellent with their deliveries all afternoon.
The passing was very neat and tidy in short spaces and looked very threatening early on. This Pool side were clearly switched on with Turton’s early throw giving Yates a chance in the box. They were clearly playing with an urgency for three points too. Honestly, Kaikai had some excellent passing as did Embleton too, at times it was joyous to watch. The passing also allowed us to wind down the clock in a professional manner, where we did most of the attacking and felt pretty comfortable throughout.
4. Closing down and tactics
Critchley masterclass? As the commentators highlighted numerous times, Blackpool have a similar style of play to Oxford with both teams sustaining pressure on the others defensive line. As the end of the season nears, it seems so has our patience to wait and ‘hope’ for games to go our way. We look like a side demanding to win, demanding to be in with a shout of the play-offs and this was shown by our tireless running throughout the 90 minutes. We should start all games like we did with Oxford getting in our opponents faces and taking the game to them.
5. Playing for the shirt and one another
Bloody good game, bloody good team and about Bloody time! From defence, to midfield to attack, the boys were playing for each other. Sullay was running the show and looked dangerous on a number of occasions. It was simply fantastic to see. His assist setting up Ballard with his brilliantly well timed header and a wide variety of dangerous balls made Oxford look distinctively average.
1. Wasted Opportunities
We aren’t quite the clinical side we have been so used to in the past. It genuinely could’ve been four or five had we finished all of our chances! There were a few occasions where poor decision making cost us. Jerry, as I mentioned earlier, was perhaps doing too much showboating early on in the first half. Ward ballooned one out into touch by rushing when a simply pass was required and Kaikai had plenty of speculative efforts that didn’t do enough to challenge the keeper. Gabriel’s last minute chance showed we can still develop and on another day we could’ve won more comfortably.
2. Rushing a little
Slow down, Pool! You invite pressure when you smash one straight to the home side (Maxwell – I’m looking at you). The game management that we possess still needs fine-tuning. We look a lot less nervous in the final minutes. Once we get this to a decent level we will start to churn out more results – particularly at home.
3. Husband and Virtue Injuries
Thorniley didn’t put a foot wrong in Hubby’s absence and well done to him. It’s about time we praise Pool players for stepping up! But, hearing another injury to our squad through the team selection does worry you, as we slowly look like we are running out of bodies – if anymore get injured in the back line.
Virtue’s injury added more frustration to a comfortable afternoon. This injury was a little sickening for me – he has revitalised this midfield, works hard and has been a breathe of fresh air since returning. Hopefully, the others aren’t far off to help out and his injury isn’t too serious.
4. What happens when the players are fit again?
I was bursting with pride, watching Pool dominate and take the game to Oxford. So, why can’t this be every game? It’s interesting that once you take out CJ and Stewart we seem to play better. I personally think Stewart sits too deep and it affects our foundations for going forward and mounting attacks. Today, was a different story so hopefully we will take this on-board in our upcoming games.
5. A few needless fouls
Two sides who played football on the ground made for a great game. Rightly or wrongly we had a few fouls – perhaps to break up the play. In some cases, I’ll say well done for the professional fouls and running down the clock. However, on the odd occasion it gave Oxford a chance to get back into the game. Especially with set pieces, luckily their effort was headed straight into Maxwell’s arms and we were able to keep a clean sheet.
Three things that came across today: urgency, passion and desire. It was clear Pool were up for this one from the off, we wanted this game. We wanted the three points and I felt proud and excited watching this Blackpool team. I’m impressed by this level of performance on the road, it needs to be continued in the remaining home games now too.
Up we go boys and long may it continue.
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