Often Partisan

It Could Have Been Worse… Blackpool match reflections

Here are my reflections on the playoff semi final first leg between Blackpool and Blues. Please note that I watched the game via Sky Sports.

1) Disappointing Performance

I think the most positive thing I can say about that result is that it was only a 1-0 defeat. Blues looked uninspiring, slow, and completely without guile against a Blackpool team that really should have punished them. The weird thing is but for the thickness of the framework of the goal Blues could have drawn that game – Marlon King grazed the bar in the first half and the outside of the post in the second. I’m disappointed both in the players and Hughton – I spoke on Friday morning of Blues playing with pride, passion and the right mentality and as one commenter pointed out post-match none of that was showing. I actually believe Hughton was shutting up shop at the end and taking the 1-0 defeat – something I’m shocked about because that’s not something Hughton normally does.

2) The Midfield

I tweeted pre-match that I was surprised at the inclusion of Guirane N’Daw and the complete omission of Morgaro Gomis and I think this is one of the key reasons that Blues didn’t do well. N’Daw was, to be blunt, dreadful. The game seemed to pass him by; his tackling was ineffectual, his passing was woeful and what was that 45 yard shot all about? He wasn’t helped by Jordon Mutch having an off game beside him and Wade Elliott not getting involved to the other side of him, but I honestly cannot understand how N’Daw finished the game. I’d have dragged him off at half-time and replaced him with Andros Townsend, moving Elliott inside.

Furthermore, Steven Caldwell talked on Sky about how they’d been talking about Stephen Dobbie all week – a player we know Chris Hughton admires – and yet Blues let him boss the midfield. I can only imagine N’Daw was picked to sit on Dobbie and he failed miserably – when Blues finally did make a change to shore up the midfield by adding an extra body in the returning Jonathan Spector Holloway promptly changed things to have two up top to make that change completely superfluous.

3) Nathan Redmond

I feel for Nathan; he’s 18 and I think he was given too much responsibility for a rookie player who is still feeling his way into his professional career. Someone pointed out to me (I think it was Colin Tattum) that you can tell how Redmond will play from his first touch. For example – against Reading one of the first things Redmond did properly in the game was the ball for Rooney for the first goal – and consequently he had a fantastic game. In this one Redmond was presented with a chance in about the fourth minute that he blazed over as he was closed down by the two Blackpool centre-backs and I think that weighed down on him. Again, I’m mystified that Hughton left him on the pitch for so long when it was clear he was struggling massively.

4) Colin Doyle

I think people blaming Doyle for the goal are harsh. The ball changed direction late on him due to the deflection off Curtis Davies and he had to change his body shape to try to get something to it. He was unlucky to miss it with his boot – but Tom Ince shouldn’t have been given the room to shoot that he was. Doyle made a couple of important blocks; yes, maybe one skipped up and hit him rather than was saved by him but I don’t think he was that bad as a shot stopper.

That being said, his distribution was poor. Hughton was going mental at Doyle for constantly hitting the long up-and-unders into the Blackpool half that were getting swallowed up consistently by the Blackpool backline (or Marlon would be offside). I do wonder (and I don’t know because the camera angle didn’t show it) who Doyle could have rolled the ball out to – and if he refrained from doing so because of the amount of times Blues gave the ball away needlessly in their own half.

Whilst I’m as unhappy as anyone else about the game and the scoreline, it’s done now. Blues have to move on and get their heads into gear for the home leg. It’s only a single goal; Blackpool offered us chances despite us being awful and Blues have to take hope that things will be better at St Andrews. My personal hope is that Keith Fahey is fit; that he or Gomis plays and N’Daw is told he’s got the night off – and that Hughton isn’t so reticent to change things when things are going against him. Wednesday will be a day for being bold, for the players to stand up to be counted and for the fans to get behind them.

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54 Responses to “It Could Have Been Worse… Blackpool match reflections”

  • Bluenosejohn says:

    Good assessment.

    Amazing the number of empty seats on view in the home end.

  • Tara says:

    We gave them too much time on the ball and they hussled us every time we had it. We still could have walked out with a draw at the end, I’d hope we will reverse those traits in the second (home) leg with the crowd behind us. Doyle and Redmond and Mutch all under performed from what they are capable of but we have Townsend Fahey and Zigic to step in if fit so I’m still some what optimistic on the final outcome, if we turn up.

  • Bob says:

    “Amazing the number of empty seats on view in the home end.”

    Those empty seats you could see where due to health and safety. The south east stand is being built and that limits crowd capacity etc.

  • john says:

    Game was a sell out. Some seats were not filled due to safety of stand I believe

  • Julian Glass says:

    The only good thing that came out of tonight’s game was that the deficit was only one goal. I wouldn’t want that team playing against West Ham. Doyle: good shot stopper but not at his best in pressure games; Ramage:exposed by decent left sided attackers better coaches who exploit his weaknesses; Ibanez: lacks Caldwell’s composure; N’Daw: seems to struggle in high tempo games where he’s not allowed to settle on the ball ie.the better Championship teams

  • san says:

    great assessment – our midfield was nearly non-existant, N’Daw looked unfit and disinterested, Mutch wasn’t involved, should have spotted N’Daw was getting bypassed and come deeper. I’d have taken King off looked frustrated and lazy. Agree about Redmond but I thought he too should have used his young legs to close people down more, should be used as an impact sub if needed next leg. Would like to see us go 442 next game with two deep holding midfielders, Gomis and Mutch, with Townsend and Burke getting balls into the box for Zigic and maybe King.

  • Phil calverley says:

    Spaces in home end were a result of redevelopment in that part of the ground

  • Scoobers says:

    Good job the team don’t have as many off days as us mere mortals do.

    If there was no pride, passion, right attitude etc (which I don’t agree with, team merely had a poor game which can happen you know) then maybe a good manager notices this and tries to take a one goal defeat and regroup for the return game (yet we still hit the post in injury time !).

    We will need need to score at least two in the ninety minutes as I can see Blackpool scoring. It has been a tremendous season whatever happens

  • Tilton OB1 says:

    These match reports sound like its all over bar the shouting. We have a great home record. When we do attack ,Blackpool look vulnerable at the back. Will have more chances at St Andrews as well. Beat them 3-0 at home this season. We were 2-1 down to West Ham last season after first leg and 3-1 after first half of 2nd, And I do recall that we won that game to get to Wembley. A full house at St Andrews on Wednesday will be rocking and that intimidates teams no end. They were the home team last night with a very attacking team, I was expecting them to have chances. Believe Hughton was right not to bring on another attacker as that would of exposed as more and an uphill struggle if we lost 2 or three nil.
    Think fans are been a bit fickle when they are blaming Doyle for the goal as it took a massive deflection, a fluke goal. He has saved us a few times this season when he has played. Mata penalty save, Harte penalty save and the save against Bristol C at 2-1 down.
    In Hughton we trust. KRO

  • Dan says:

    You summed it up perfectly again and we should conclude that it simply was a bad game (maybe due to the long season after all?), but not everything is lost. We still have them coming to St. Andrews and I feel with a much better performance we definitely still have a chance.

  • will says:

    Agreed on all points. Is CH already mentally at the Hawthorns?

  • bluenoseneil says:

    Ok sorry I am going to be the one who says it but we were caught by a lucky goal, didn’t get enough of the ball (but we were away from home do that doesn’t shock me) and the mix didn’t work as it should and has this season.

    However I agree that Hughtons tactics were spot on for the last 30 minutes insomuch as it was about CONTAINMENT. We left with a 1-0. Under the circumstances that’s superb.

    Who comes to St Andrews and hammers us this season? Nobody. I think you all need to continue to have faith in the team, CH and our ability as fans to bully the opposition into making mistakes on the pitch.

    Holloway wasn’t ecstatic with 1-0 cos he knows we are going to boss this 2nd leg and they need to come and try and nick one to go through.

    KRO and leave the negativity alone for 5 more days. It will do us all a favour!!!

  • theurbaneguerilla says:

    Why so gloomy? I said to anyone who would listen that Blackpool would throw the kitchen sink at us and they tried last night.
    Although we retained the ball poorly, no on can deny the players’ commitment and determination to hang in there.
    I thought Ibanez and Davies played as well as they could on a pasture of a pitch. Ramage made a world class block to keep us in it and Murphy did well against one of the division’s best right sided players in Ince.
    I totally disagree about the assessment of Elliot, who I believe had a decent game. The problem was he was on his own, as neither N’Daw or Mutch got hold of midfield. That was our our achilles hell on the night.
    I think it was because of this the defenders and Doyle were continually trying to bypass them to get straight to the front men. Sadly Redmond looked overawed and King was alone. Burke tried his best but he too was left on his own to often.
    I think Hughton COULD have brought on Gomis to add some fluency but we were holding them and perhaps he always had the second leg in mind.
    Let’s hope Blackpool feel they’ve got the job half done, because we all know what is in store on Wednesday.
    A packed St Andrew’s, bouncing right up to the rafters. It is only half time, we had an indifferent first half but we have the second half to come, with new enthusiasm, in front of our own fans.
    Surely we would have all taken that at the start of the season would we not?
    This is Birmingham City. We never do it easy and I truly believe that at home under the lights we will batter them.I really cannot understand the general despondency around this result. Better teams than us have been embarrassed by ‘Pool and we are more than capable of beating a team we almost stole a draw against, despite being below par.
    C’mon! KRO
    It could be worse, it could be Villa.
    PS: As I said to Wolves fan who was taking the mickey last night, at least we still have a chance of Premier League football next season.

    • bluenoseneil says:

      FINALLY someone else who talks sense!!! Thank you.

      PS I wouldn’t be shocked to see Butland in goal on Wednesday. I think that knock Doyle took to his shoulder in the 1st half really limited his movement and it could be quite sore this morning. Let’s hope he’s ok though.

  • Johnners says:

    I think these reviews are harsh. I agree N’Daw and Mutch were overrun in the centre but criticism of King, Redmond, Doyle, Ramage, Ibanez is for me wide of the mark. I think we have to give some credit to Blackpool for a barnstorming home performance. They gave us no time and space on the ball and were skillful and direct in playing through the centre. However, they should have put it to bed and they didn’t and I think that will cost them in the second leg which will be a totally different game. Hughton set up last night to contain Blackpool and his substitutions reflected that also. On Wednesday, I think we can expect a fresh Zigic and Townsend to start which immediately shifts the dynamic of our team from back foot to front foot. The big question is who gets the central midfield slots? We need to score two goals so I want a creatot/goalscorer in there which means Fahey if fit and Mutch as second choice. But we also still need a ‘stopper’ in front of the centre halfs – N’Daw, Spector or Gomis? N’Daw has not been the same player since the African world cup and has had his chance. I like Gomis as he is Mr.Reliable, he is match fit but he is not the most athletic midget in the world. Spector is your all round US jock, fresh and I thought he did well when he came on last night. Either will do for me and let Sir Chris decide. Come on you blue boys !!!!

  • Neal says:

    Yes it was a very poor performance and we were lucky Blackpool were not more ruthless but that is the beauty of a two legged tie and there is a chance to turn the tables at home. Given all that has surrounded the season and 61 games in I still cannot believe CH has got us this far!

  • theurbaneguerilla says:

    Postcript: We have to win clear on Wednesday because I’m travelling from north Wales and anything else than a win in 90 mins means I miss my train and I’m walking home. Offers of accommodation gratefully accepted.
    I cannot contemplate a defeat because I’m back on the train with the Donkey Lashers!
    NB: I may be slightly drunk, for those offering a room!

  • Johnners says:

    Good to see the optimists up early this morning. Pessimists probably still in bed fumbling around under the duvet…..

  • andy says:

    What a time to have a bad game, it also has to be blues’ worst performance this season, lets just be thankful we only trail by a single goal. Im not going to pick out individual players but lets hope the team that CH goes with on wednesday perform 100% better because they have to if they are to overturn Blackpools slight advantage.

  • alexjhurley says:

    I agree, we were very poor. Probably as bad as I’ve seen us this season (except liecester away maybe). I also agree with the consensus that we got away with it and have a great chance on weds. Whilst ndaw and Mutch were poor, its worth pointing out that with ramage and Murphy fully occupied defensively, Burke and Elliot became isolated and therefore much harder to find. That’s just what happens when you play a team where everyone has license to attack. Had Redmond played better and king timed his runs more effectively wed have been far better. Again, for me ch was spot on though – leaving them on because there’s always a chance of creating something with the 2 of them (evidenced by kings offside goal). Whilst gingeresque, for me spector for Redmond helped massively – we finally got hold of the midfield and comfortably saw out the last 10 creating our best chance to boot.

    One other point – I thought Davies was woeful last night.

    Well beat Blackpool, but I suspect west ham will be too much for us.

    Kro sotv. In ch we trust.

  • john says:

    We were outplayed by a much better side and though they got a fluky goal they well deserved the win and should have won by 2 or 3. Nice to hear so many optimists on here but we will get knocked out by Blackpool. They WILL score on Wednesday and I guess the score will be 2 – 2 . We have had a good season but Blackpool are a touch better all round than us I think. They will come rampaging supported by 2000 of the noisiest fans in the country. No I am not a Blackpool fan – just the truth.

  • Retired&Weary says:

    Most people have identified the big problem last night; central midfield. Mutch & N’Daw both lack pace & mobility, plus dare I say it did not seem up for the battle. Spector made a big difference when he came on In my opinion. You can say what you like about King, Redmond, etc., but if midfield is overwhelmed you will struggle all over the park. Let’s hope Wednesday will be one of those big St Andrew’s nights where the crowd get them over the line!

  • matt cook says:

    Confidence that you will beat us !! Underestimate us at your own peril ! I think this is probably going to be a tremendous advert for the championship ! Bear this in mind one or both of us will still be in the championship next season ! But I don’t agree with the comment that our defence is dodgy ! Yes it once was but 6 clean sheets in 8 games and no defeats in 9, yes I agree you have had a stronghold in previous games but despite only scoring 1 last night…we have our moJo back and we’re gonna score one more than you guys ! We are not over clovionfident just playing with fluidity which on another day hopefully Wednesday we’ll take our chances ! I go for 3.3 good luck boys next season whoever wins through !!!!.

  • ForevertheOptimist says:

    Love this site for the diversity of so many different opinions.
    Bottom line is , we were at their Gaff,under the cosh but still have a foot in the door
    Next week they will come to us , and with the chances we create at home ,our crowd plus our record at home ,they will be the ones with trepidation.
    Still cant hear no Fat Lady Singing and dont be surprised if we beat them 3-1 next week.
    Make us even more Proud Blue Boys.

  • james says:

    Easily the worst performance of the season last night. We got battered plain and simple. BUT THEY COULD ONLY SCORE ONE.

    Roll on Wednesday for a full house, a great atmosphere and a victory.

    Keep the faith


  • Evesham Blue says:

    The problem last night is the same problem we have had all season. Central midfield. It’s too light weight. I am not a fan of Spector either in central midfield but at right back as he is out of position in central midfield. Is it any coincidence that we have picked up with Gomis in the team?He is neat and tidy and distribution last night was woeful. I was most disappointed with the lack of subs when it was going against us in the second half. Zigic for Redmond might have given us an outlet and them something to think about. I also think that Pool did a job on Burkey.

    Still it’s not over yet and pool will be lucky to get a result at the Blues. I just wonder if the luck is with them tho what with their goal and King hitting the post late on. I really think we need Fahey back to have a chance in the final (if we make it which I think we will).

    One thing that did occur to me tho – is that CH may have been resting players for the second leg.

  • Blue Steve says:

    The midfield were poor last night. I thought Mutch was poorer than N’Daw. He gave the ball away so many times. Gomis is tidy but does not have the same prescence as N’Daw and would have been overrun by Blackpools solid midfield. Whilst we were on the back foot they created 1 clear cut chance and scored a fortunate deflected goal. With a more positive set up and st andrews behind us we can still do it! KRO…

  • VHS says:

    Can I just point out that last night was a sellout. The empty seats were closed areas due to the ongoing building work.

    Don’t be fooled into thinking we believe it’s a job half done, Holloway will keep our lads focused. And after a year in the Prem, our lads won’t be intimidated by St.Andrews one bit. Should be a good game on Weds.

  • Oldbluenose says:

    I have to say, that without a doubt, It was the midfield that let us down,!!. Doyle, detractors,?. wake up, the guy played well and had NO chance with the deflection,!!. Davies;, not so cammanding as usual, Ibanez, I thought played well, Ramage, is more central defender [ As was seen by his block of an almost certain goal ], Burke and Redmond, were unsupported,!!. Mutch and N/daw, were definately a very weak midfield, [ Neither could pass wind last night ], King, amaazed me by the amount of times he was caught offside,?. [ With his experiance,? ], Elliot, is not a l/winger but central midfield or in the hole, — he is good enough,!!.
    As had been said already;, methinks C,H. played containment last night, with Wednesday in mind for freshing up the team for a ” up and at em “, [ As Blackpool ] played last night, [ and they did it well ],!!. But it is OUR turn next Wednesday, — KRo,!!!!!.

  • kimberley blue says:

    I have a dream… N’Daw will play and score on wednesday … go to penalties and Doyle saves the day we win 4-3 .. zero’s to heroes…

  • AuldBertie says:

    Play the team which played for the last 80 minutes against Reading last week, optionally changing King for Rooney, and the same type of fast, fluid football, and we will should win comfortably.

  • Figo says:

    Poor performance granted but if you offered me 1-0 before the game I would have taken it and they’re certainly worrying if it will be enough.

    Different game next week with a completely different mentality 3-1 blues-bring on the Wet Spam!

  • Atahualpa is a BlueNose says:

    As Almajir has stated, the first leg is done and dusted.

    We are all disappointed with the result but the point is that we have the opportunity to rectify the situation. CH and the players are wise enough to realize that we need an upturn in the performance level, and there will be one or two telling changes to the starting eleven in all probability.

    An early goal on Wednesday will change the dynamics of the whole tie and we shall prevail. A one goal deficit is in no way beyond us. One thing that has been said time and again by many about CH, is that he does not worry too much about the opposition and concentrates on the attributes of his own team. This has carried us a long long way this season and surely will see us through on Wednesday.

    Bluenoses have been privileged enough over the last 18 months or so to have witnessed some rocking games down at St Andrews. The run in the Cup that we won last year, Europe and our almost unbeatable home record this season. Let’s us ensure that we have another game to add to that roll.

    Keep the faith you followers of the one true Birmingham club.

    NB. The date in the diary for the 19th of May shall be booked on Wednesday night…………………

    • VHS says:

      You’re making exactly the same noises that Forest made 2 years ago. We took a one goal lead to their place and were told an early goal would end our endeavours (they scored after 6 minutes). The rest is history. They hadn’t been beaten at home for 20 odd games (since us, as it happens) and we banged 4 in. Underestimate us at your peril!

      • theurbaneguerilla says:

        Fine words but you have NEVER had to come to St Andrew’s when it means so much to us and felt the power that comes down from those terraces. I hope your team has the same attitude as you because you’re in for a s*^@storm on the pitch like you’ve never seen before.
        I am very happy with a 1-0 reverse at your place, as your are undoubtedly a good side and very formidable on your own patch when you get at sides.
        This will be a totally different proposition on Wednesday and, never mind the naysayers we have always attracted, every Bluenose to a man will be sucking the ball into your net on May 9th.
        Good luck and may the best team win.

      • Atahualpa is a BlueNose says:

        We are not Forest.

        I have not underestimated you – just haven’t over – estimated you.

        Also am very aware of what my club and team are capable of.

        Looking forward to the commencement of hostilities. Hope you are as well. Think it will not be the case for your team when you are faced with a packed St Andrews with the crowd absolutely rocking – just ask Kevin Phillips and Barry Ferguson.

        Blues will win comfortably.

        • VHS says:

          You all keep reiterating how hostile and intimidating St.Andrews is. When did this happen? Why have you never shown it before? It’s like a delusional safety blanket. Your team need to step up, not your scary (allegedly) fans.

          • almajir says:

            Last major semi final at St Andrews was West Ham, Carling Cup semi final, last year.

            We were 2-1 down from the first leg. I don’t need to tell you how that one finished, do I?

  • onlyme says:

    My prediction for last night was a draw, but after watching one of our weakest performances this year, I can accept a 1-0 loss, surely we wont have 2 bad games on the bounce, St Andrews will be absolutely rocking wednesday night, an evening game and full house with so much at stake, Im hoping it will scare the hell out of Blackpool,
    So nothing has changes for me, we were always going to have to win at home in my eyes, only now a 1 goal win will mean penalties.
    We must believe its our destiny, We must believe the team will do it, because our belief will transmit from the stands to the pitch.
    Sing Loud, Sing Proud, and sing your Hearts out for the boys in Royal Blue….


  • chris says:

    n’daw wasn’t the leader he should have been and two young players nat & jordan who were probably playing their biggest and most pressurised game yet.
    they would be looking for guidance etc which they didn’t seem to get from n’daw and king.
    though i think CH should have seen that coming.
    he seems to have favoured n’daw over gomis since he came back from africa, even though his form has been indifferent, yet gomis for me has played well when he has been given the chance.
    i think CH had a bit of fear himself as he could have subbed king for ziggy or rooney, but he may have been worried that they may have lost the ball too easily.
    at half time with just losing a goal and with them having the better chances i would have took a one goal loss which i think CH thought the same after a poor performance.
    oh well it’s all just opinions, but the main thing we need on wednesday is to play without fear whoever is on the pitch.

  • bluenose08 says:

    Every time i see blackpool on the tv their pitch looks terrible so only favours the home team. Doyle was definately not to blame for the goal and gomis should have played but anybody can pick a better team in hindsight. So lets be thankful its only 1-0 as dobie missed a sitter and i am sure we will play a lot better next wednesday with a full ground and everyone cheering us on lets make it as noisey as possible. One thing i noticed last night ch losing his cool with the players as he wasnt happy with the performance and i am sure he will have the players up for it on wednesday.

  • BCFCnic says:

    no team has beaten us twice this season, hard fought 2-0 victory for the blues in front of a sell-out crowd for the first time in years, gonna be epic

  • NooBloo says:

    the good news is they cant play that bad again

  • Spotlight Kid says:

    I actually believe Hughton was shutting up shop at the end and taking the 1-0 defeat – something I’m shocked about because that’s not something Hughton normally does.

    Shocked?? One goal down over two legs with no away goals rule means there is no point in foraging forward against a team like Blackpool who have the ability to punish any slip. This was pure damage limitation given how poorly nearly everyone in the team played (nerves?). This is also why Hughton is a good manager, and he is a far better strategist than the blogs will ever pick up on. Attacking football is needed week in week out because 1 win = 3 draws (simples. eh?). Call it Keeganism if you like, as opposed to Eckism. However this ain’t league duties.

    Now it’s Holloway with the same headache, and he’ll think about the tactical issue for all of 30 seconds and probably cry “Charge…!” It might work as that’s what the ‘pool do well, but it will be a different Blues on Wednesday with front players scurrying around their defence and coming onto the midfield much higher. This time goals are needed, and the team will be briefed accordingly.

  • ScudMuffin says:

    I don’t think that having much play in the middle helped. Can’t seem to pass accurately unless he chips, poor pick imo. That said the performance wasn’t as bad as people are making out. Look at the table, one point and seven goals. The goal came from a deflection and it was end to end. Go and have a look at the express write up, as far as lower league advertisments go it was amazing.

    I enjoyed it, thought it would be more of a goal fest though I was expecting a draw. Can’t really fault blues defence, they were just a bit unlucky.

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