In a non-stop game where you barely had time to catch your breath, Blackpool triumphed 4-2 over Preston North End on Saturday lunchtime. It’s the second time in two seasons that North End have failed to even get a point at Bloomfield Road.
Whilst it was far from our worst performance of the season, the fact is we conceded four goals even though we had the much better chances in the game. Blackpool were clinical, and Preston lack the flair, creativity and cutting edge in the final third. But we’ve all heard that before haven’t we?
A solid first 60 minutes
It was a very high tempo match throughout, but Preston were controlling the game without threatening too much. The first goal came after the defence switched off at a free-kick after a lengthy delay which saw Liam Bridcutt go off. Alvaro Fernandez was caught napping at the back post, which gave Jerry Yates space to head home. It was also Fernandez who gave away the free-kick in the first place. Overall, it was a game to forget for Alvaro, but a 19-year-old with just a handful of professional games under his belt, won’t have experienced a game of this importance before.
Ben Woodburn was finding space just behind Emil Riis and wasn’t being picked up. This is where we were finding our joy, and he tested Chris Maxwell from long-range with one effort. Brad Potts also had a chance from out wide, and we were looking the better team in the first half. A penalty came from great work from Riis who turned Marvin Ekpiteta inside out. Captain for the day Ben Whiteman smashed the penalty past spot-kick specialist Chris Maxwell, and we went into the break all level.
North End started the second half well and looked the more likely to get the all-important third goal of the game. Disaster struck though when Greg Cunningham had to go off after stretching earlier for an interception.
Cunningham loss a huge blow, Diaby was always going to struggle
The fact we were already without Andrew Hughes for this game was bad enough. Patrick Bauer is still out, and to lose Cunnigham meant we had to reshuffle the defence. Liam Lindsay wearing a Terry Butcher-esque head bandage for most the game, filled in on the left, and Bambo Diaby came into the middle of that back three. He’s only played two games for us this season, and one of them was five minutes as a striker!
Bambo can look good at times, but he always has you on edge, and you feel he has always got a mistake in him. He should have done better to close down, and block Charlie Patino for their second goal. For their third it was way too easy for Jerry Yates to out jump him and head past Freddie Woodman. He’s sixth choice centre-back and it shows. Perhaps it could have been an opportunity for Lowe to switch the formation around instead of relying on Diaby.
‘It wasn’t for the lack of trying’
How many times have we heard this now? It was the same, old boring, post-match statement from Lowe via Lancs Live that we’ve heard numerous times this season. Of course they are trying, it’s a derby. If they weren’t trying there would be a serious problem. The issue is that on the whole these players are not good enough, and it’s a very unbalanced squad.
Another issue is that we don’t have any goal scorers in the team apart from Riis. We lack creative players and you could make a case for at least half of the squad to be moved on. Lowe claimed he was happy with the squad ahead of the transfer deadline in August, even though every man and his dog knew we were lacking a striker and a right wing-back at the very least. Now he has said words alluding to the fact that we are probably going to struggle until January.
‘We know what it is don’t we? Let’s not beat around the bush. Until January comes and we can help the group, then we know. Lads are doing different jobs up there fantastically well, in different ways.’
It’s pretty depressing to hear. The manager basically knows we aren’t good enough, and it’s going to be a tough couple of months until January. Surely he knew that in the summer? The injury to Troy Parrott hasn’t helped, but you have to plan for these things.
Subs all over the place again
When Lowe eventually does alter the formation, it’s done with a scattergun approach, usually when we are chasing the game. I’ve always thought having the option of bringing on five substitutions is a hinderance, because you almost feel the need to throw them all on and the players then struggle to work out who’s playing where and what their role is.
Robbie Brady came on for Ben Woodburn which seemed a strange move as Woodburn was doing well. It also shows Lowe lacked belief in Daniel Johnson coming on to change the game in the number 10 role.
Ched Evans came on for Jordan Storey, when in truth it would have made more sense to take Diaby back off. Alan Browne also came on for McCann. DJ remained on the bench, and we now played 4-3-3. Evans, Riis and Maguire isn’t an ideal front three, but as I’ve mentioned there is limited flexibility in this squad.
CJ Hamilton the sort of player Preston need
CJ Hamilton caused problems all for Preston. He was fast, strong on the ball, and confident with it too. He deserved his goal at the end, and it’s remarkable that it was his first start in the league this season.
Preston don’t have a player like that. We have done in the past, but this summer saw us sell any players with pace, capable of beating their man and causing problems. Instead we are left with average players that fill the midfield. No one like Hamilton, who in the end was the difference between the sides along with Jerry Yates.