Finally, the long wait is now over. Blackpool FC have scored a goal, and they’ve won a game too! A 1-0 victory over local neighbours Fleetwood Town ended a seven-game losing streak, but the result does not tell the whole story.
Pool’s goal came via a deflection from Fleetwood defender Nathan Pond. Incredibly, Blackpool won the game and earned a vital three points despite not having a single shot on target. And if we want to be really pedantic about it, technically it’s now been 636 minutes since a Blackpool player last scored a goal.
This shows that we shouldn’t read too much into the Fleetwood win. We haven’t ‘turned a corner’, it was a lucky result. Fleetwood had more possession and nine shots on target. Pool also had loanee keeper Dean Lyness to thank for preserving a clean sheet, and that was something manager Neil McDonald acknowledged in his post-match press conference.
I’ve said before in this blog that “one win doesn’t change anything”, and there is still evidently a long way to go if the club are to stay in League One. Beating Fleetwood after being the weaker side doesn’t exactly fill you with confidence. But on the flip side, it was three valuable points. Now it’s about how Blackpool follow it up. On Saturday they face another derby away at Wigan.
Last month, a weakened Pool side lost 4-0 at the DW Stadium. McDonald rung the changes that night as it was a Johnstone’s Paint Trophy quarter-final, a competition he had no interest in.
Pool managed to bring in one loanee before the deadline – West Ham striker Elliot Lee. He is a player McDonald knows very well from his time at the Hammers, and hopefully can be the answer to Pool’s goalscoring problems. The attacker came on after 45 minutes against Fleetwood, but struggled to get into the game.
In the last blog I spoke of how Pool were crying out for a much bigger striker, someone who can hold the ball up and bring others into play. However, this isn’t the type of striker Lee is. He’s 5’ 10’’, so is in a very similar mould to Jack Redshaw and Mark Cullen. Having many forwards of a similar style limits how you play the game, and there seems to be no back-up plan if none of them are scoring or effecting the game.
What I have found disappointing is McDonald’s comments about selling players in January. His squad is very small at best, so unless he has clear targets that will join the club, it seems a rather strange mood. Strikers who aren’t scoring goals clearly need the service. One player who is capable of providing that, but who looks to be leaving the club, is Jose Cubero.
The Costa Rica international came in as part of the ‘Riga Revolution’ last season to much excitement after playing in the World Cup. However, a mixture of visa problems and injuries restricted him to just 12 Championship appearances. It took former manager Lee Clark a while to start selecting Cubero, despite being one of Pool’s most impressive players. Clark then extended the midfielder’s contract and talked about how he “wanted to build a team” around the Costa Rican in League 1.
It didn’t turn out that way, and McDonald has hardly selected Cubero, which I’ve found very strange. He is clearly a player with huge quality, something which Pool have lacked in midfield this season.
Having seen a lot of his games last year, I believe Clark was right to make him a focal point. There was even talk of Championship clubs swooping in to sign Cubero prior to his contract extension, but McDonald obviously has his favourites and Cubero isn’t one of them. While he possesses great passing and technical qualities, it seems strange why he wouldn’t be selected in a side second bottom of the table.
As we approach the dreaded winter fixtures, it’s going to be a vital month in Pool’s battle for survival. Let’s hope they can get back to basics soon. Scoring goals will be a good start…