- Gary Bowyer’s can count himself slightly fortunate to garner a victory from a match evenly contested in the first period but largely dominated by visitors Bury in the second. That said, I’ve always admired his ability to extract the very maximum from his players, particularly at Blackpool under somewhat testing circumstances given the ownership. He is also a better tactician than his opposite number Lee Clark and must have fancied his chances of three points when he saw the teamsheets. The Seasiders’ pacey front three were always going to cause issues for a more pedestrian Shakers defence and they often had to take a deep line to stop them getting in behind.
- I uttered an audible groan when once again seeing Harry Bunn deployed at right wing-back. His poor start to life at the club might have circumstances beyond what we can glean on the pitch but he certainly is not being helped on it by his manager. The role is increasingly coming back into prominence in the sport and it requires a specific kind of player in order to fulfill it properly; they must have a high level of stamina (Bunn doesn’t at the best of times and looks unfit), track back (definitely not his forté) and have great positional ability (which he does but the role has much more emphasis on defence than suits his playstyle). Jordan Williams is a more obvious choice and his introduction into Tuesday night’s game was rather late into proceedings. If Clark persists with the current shape, he must have individuals on the flanks who are up to the task as they are currently providing all the width and support for a vulnerable defence. Greg Leigh selects himself on the left at the moment as there isn’t anyone else in the first team who can perform to a similar standard…
- Speaking of Leigh, he had a big hand in the hosts’ opener. Granted, he wasn’t helped by Oliver Turton’s off-the-ball challenge going unpunished but unless he was still feeling the effects of it, the way he sauntered back into his own half as Blackpool went on the counter down his flank as they did on several occasions. The home side didn’t even need to go at breakneck speed to cut through the lines (such as they were) and very little resistance was offered, which is a big concern. Kelvin Mellor had the simplest of tasks to tap in the cross the cutback from Sean Longstaff, who looked to be enjoying the space he had to work in for most of the match. Additionally, Callum Reilly apart, there was no-one else in the side with a strong left foot from a defensive point of view. This will continue to be targetted until steps are taken to address the problem, which might as well be painted with a bullseye on it.
- Tom Aldred has failed to convince most supporters just why Clark pursued the former Tangerines captain and player of the season from 2016/2017 almost all summer long, especially when Adam Thompson was sent out on loan to Bradford City (a decision which looks more galling by the day). Sometimes being put on the left of the central defensive three certainly isn’t helping but his lack of pace and much more worryingly, leadership abilities are doing his teammates no favours and how he lost his man for the second goal was criminal. The absence of Thompson and Nathan Cameron ought to mean that he sees it as an opportunity to stake his claim as the person the rest of the back five look to for guidance but if anything, he seems to be in need of it himself. Eoghan O’Connell is the only one right now who is making the position his own with any semblance of confidence.
- Jay O’Shea can count himself unfortunate perhaps not to start in place of Chris Maguire, who looked to be carrying a knock when he joined the bench. As I said in the last review, his more direct style works well within the current shape and he is more of a link-man between midfield and attack. His chance at the death was well deflected onto his post by Ryan Allsop but it was still encouraging to see the positions he can get into with his late runs into the area. Ideally, I’d like to see him, Maguire and a motivated Bunn all in the same XI behind Beckford but that probably won’t happen anytime soon and especially not under Clark.
- Jermaine Beckford has an excellent goal return of eight by mid-October and it’s not difficult to see why. In fairness to Bunn, his run and low cross from the right flank put it on a plate for his compatriot and the striker could afford a second touch to poke the ball home. What we need to see now are others from open play capable of easing the burden on him as a current look through the roster reads as per below. Only the management team can know why Nicky Ajose is still frozen out and whilst the return of O’Shea augurs well, the distinct lack of goals from midfield is a big worry; Josh Laurent missed a sitter with only Allsop to beat and neither him nor Reilly look to be currently capable of chipping in with any real frequency.
Jermaine Beckford - 8 Chris Maguire - 2 (both were penalties) Nicky Ajose - 1 Josh Laurent - 1 Jay O'Shea - 1 Nathan Cameron - 1 Michael Smith - 1 Harry Bunn - 1
- Leo Fasan has come under more scrutiny in the last couple of matches. I think the one advantage he has over Joe Murphy is that he’s better with his feet. Obviously, that’s not the first thing you normally think of as being important for a goalkeeper but the game is evolving in that direction at present. Otherwise, his reluctance to stray from his line is not instilling confidence in the defenders he’s meant to be organising. Curtis Tilt, who had Michael Smith shackled throughout the night, had a free header from Andy Taylor’s corner. As stated above, some of the blame must be laid at Aldred’s door for that but the rest could be apportioned to the Italian custodian. The prevailing perception is that it is better to come and try to claim the ball and not fully succeed than to remain stoic and give the attacker more control of the situation. The winner was against the run of play but the delivery was of a high standard and Blackpool’s quality from set pieces and in open play should not be dismissed lightly.
- Bury’s away record in the league since Clark took over is beyond abysmal. That I have personally seen half of the wins on the road (so… one out of two between February and October!) is a shocking statistic and will continue to hold back the club from any pretensions of escaping the current malaise. The lack of consistency in general is bad enough and the pressure won’t subside from fans over his job until he can string at least two victories together. Woking manager Anthony Limbrick is right to believe a ‘giant-killing’ can take place in the FA Cup next month, particularly with the current incumbent in post. Two more games away from Gigg Lane await his charges and a poor return could prompt the board to dispense with his services before he even gets the chance to go on a cup run…