REPORTS FROM BLACKPOOL SITE
Mansfield Town 4 Blackpool 0
Throughout his 3 years in charge, I don't think Macca has ever left the pitch with his own supporters singing 'what a load of rubbish' at him & his players. That was until today. As a couple of fans vented somewhat misguided comments at Steve, the manager stood, arms out asking what more can he do?
Whilst I sympathise with the manager and would suggest the comments should have been directed at the players who so spectacularly underachieved today and not the man in charge, it's now up to Steve to show what he can do by bringing in new faces to an injury ravaged side and also by turning a decent set of players back in to a hard working footballing side again. Make no mistake about it, man for man we still had the better players on the pitch at Field Mill, but they neither had the ideas or inclination to grind out a result.
When we arrived in Mansfield, it looked as though the game wouldn't go ahead as low cloud meant you could barely see 50 yards in front of you, however fortunate for Keith Curle conditions improved enough for the game to proceed. With just one change from last week's winning side against Torquay (Southern for Collins) you felt that the confidence the team must have gathered from that game would filter through to today's performance and for the first minute or so Mansfield couldn't get the ball off us! How soon confidence can go though. With Murphy off the field getting a head innjury seen to (by the slowest club doctor in the world), Mansfield took advantage of Blackpool being down to 10 men and some weak goalkeeping from Theoklitos. Iyseden Christie met an Adam Eaton cross and the Aussie keeper failed to make the ball his own as Christie's header went over Theo's head. A possible foul but in truth the new keeper should have done a lot better.
After that Blackpool had much of the possession and all of the chances before the break. However with most of the through balls reaching Paul Dalglish, the much vilified player failed to do anything of any note when he got hold of it. The worst of these was when he only had to tap the ball through to Scott Taylor after a magnificent run of 50 yards only to put far too much behind it and thus make it easy for the keeper to collect. I've probably said enough about Dalglish over the weeks, and whilst I admire those who say he'll come good and that there are other players who are just as bad at the moment, the fact is that HE is just not good enough and whilst he retains his first team place the boss must appreciate that fans will question this decision.
After the break and the Seasiders again came out brightly but failed to find the back of the net (or for that matter where the net was located). Whilst Mansfield looked threatening with route one football, the Seasiders insisted on trying to pass their way through a crowded defence. For all the service Taylor and Murphy received they need not have been on the pitch. It was obvious that the Stags were petrified of conceding and yet we just didn't make any of our possession pay.
When Grayson failed to deal with a ball inside the Mansfield half, the Stags sent Christie through on the Blackpool goal and Chris Clarke needlessly hacked him back to receive a red card. You just knew from that moment on that it was game, set and match to Mansfield. Clarke has been poor this season and any thoughts that he could be a lynchpin at the back should be put aside for a while. Asking Phil Gulliver to come in and play alongside such an erratic and indecisive player is asking an awful lot of the lad and he must be counting the days until his loan spell ends. Hopefully the return of Ian Hughes should make him feel a little easier about his place in defence.
After the sending off it was how many we could keep it down to. Wayne Corden set up number two for Liam Lawrence to left foot the ball from 18 yards out past a helpless (and to a certain extent hapless) Theokiltos. It just wasn't happening for Blackpool at the other end and cries of 'shoot' from the crowd reflected our inability to get a foot behind the ball. Richie Wellens summed the day up when he was 18 yards out and with a clear path on goal. Instead of having a shot, he played the ball to his left where the wasn't a Pool player within 25 yards.
We'll put this report out of it's misery quicker than Blackpool put the 500 or so travelling fans out of theirs. Goal three was saw sub Colin Larkin latch on to a Craig Disley ball and the fourth was a horrendous error by Simon Grayson who's experience badly let him down when he was one on one with Disley. He failed to clear the ball and Disley got his brace from 18 yards out. The Seasiders formation at the end would have confused even Jimmy Hill with Walker, Collins and O'Kane all playing a part.
They took our plaudits earlier in the season and now it's time for them to take the criticisms. It's doesn't take a degree in brain science to work out where it's gone wrong. Jaszczun and Hills has left a throroughly ineffective left side with Coid half the player he was and Dalglish ... well enough said. Down the right flank Bullock is running half empty and still hasn't found his feet since his return from injury whilst at the back the defence looks as water-tight as a Downing Street memo and Theoklitos is average to say the least. The result? Nothing down the flanks and no service to our front men, Wellens and Southern being dragged in to help the defence - so no midfield and a defence which doesn't talk to each other and oppositions strikers must think all their Christmas's have come at once.
The answer? Well that's for the manager to work out. However he needs to get the fit players we have working as a team again. If they're only partially fit, don't play them. I'd sooner see one of the young lads having a go. We need new players in this week to keep us going over the Xmas period and then hopefully if we can pick up a few points over Xmas by the time the injury crisis is over and Thornley arrives, too much damage won't have been caused for us to get on with the second half of the season.
If we don't the sarcastic 'we're going down with the Mansfield' song which was belted out by some at the end of the game may not sound so funny.
The Seasiders final trip before Christmas saw Pool slide to an embarrassing defeat at the hands of rock bottom Mansfield and to add to their woe Chris Clarke was shown red.
In freezing foggy conditions Pool were second best in every department and it came as no surprise that The Stags who were keen to impress new manager Keith Curle took the three points but more worrying for The Seasiders is that they have failed to win six league outings.
Things were starting to go pear shaped as early as the seventh minute when Pool were temporarily down to ten men, John Murphy left the action to receive stitches and it was during this period that the hosts took the lead. A teasing cross from on loan defender Adam Eaton had Michael Theoklitos coming a long away, he appeared to be fouled but there was no whistle and the ball fell to IYSEDEN CHRISTIE who completely unmarked nodded the ball into the empty net.
The home side were beginning to make the most of the extra man advantage and former Seasider Neil MacKenzie saw a 25-yard free kick fly just over.
Pool eventually welcomed back John Murphy on seventeen minutes but it was Andy White who should have doubled the lead the Stags front man was through on goal but fortunately for Pool Michael Theoklitos forced White wide and the final shot ended up in the side netting.
On 25 minutes Paul Dalglish picked up yet another yellow card when he lunged unnecessarily at Liam Lawrence.
Pool's first chance of note came ten minutes from the interval Martin Bullock skipped clear of the defence and his cross was met by Paul Dalglish who on the half volley fired just over. And just on the stroke of half time Scott Taylor saw a curling shot go just wide.
HALF TIME Mansfield 1 Pool 0
The second period began with Pool looking the brighter of the two; Paul Dalglish and Richie Wellens all had half chances.
But things went from bad to worse after 50 minutes, Chris Clarke had won the free kick and he stupidly retaliated and picked up an unnecessary yellow, two minutes later the big centre back was shown red for a professional foul.
Mansfield then ran in another three goals as Pool crumbled to their second heaviest defeat of the season.
In conclusion, the lack of discipline and effort saw the Seasiders crash to a humiliating defeat, injuries can be used as an excuse but the 14 on show today should and can do much better