Once again, it was awkward watching a side play against us in 'our' kit. Unsure why, but Blackpool appear to have given up their famous Tangerine and were instead kitted out in red shirts, white shorts and red socks. I couldn't find any reason for this other than it was a strip they played in back in 1913!
Another scruffy performance from Lee Bowyer's emerging side this evening at Bloomfield Road. League One debutant referee, James Bell, took less than a minute to make a mark on this match when he was left with no option but to dismiss James Husband for a last-man foul on Omar Bogle as he chased a long Purrington ball towards the penalty area. Two minutes later and Purrington himself went into the book after being worryingly exposed by Hamilton's pace down the right flank.
Unsurprisingly perhaps, Charlton looked comfortable at the back for most of the first-half as Madine and Hamilton were left to fight it out with our back four. Inniss and Famewo had plenty of time on the ball and they needed it as they were left to do all the prompting of forward play by Roberts who was content to play triangles with them.
Going forward was our real challenge. With most balls being pumped upfield from the centre-backs, Shinnie, Bogle and Doughty were left battling for possession and even when they did manage to hang onto anything, we invariably mis-played the second ball. Doughty had some success down the right where his pace was as troubling for them as Hamilton's was for us but his end product was limited to deep far post balls which several players in turn failed to stop from going out. Pratley was also getting forward but with 11 against 10, we needed creativity and guile, not someone looking for or conceding free-kicks.
On 35 minutes, Doughty and Gunter exchanged passes and Gunther crossed a high ball into the box which Bogle chested and took down but his was already swinging his boot and he scuffed it over the bar.
Three minutes later and we were level - ten men apiece. Purrington was put on the rack by Hamilton once again and having bust a lung to get back, he couldn't contain himself as Hamilton prepared to glide inside and hauled him down unceremoniously. It was a blatant second yellow and Lee Bowyer will not have been pleased. Don't expect to see Purrington playing again any time soon.
Before half-time Blackpool fashioned a half-chance. A long ball down the middle dropped for Woodburn charging between Inniss and Famewo. He managed to get a first-time effort off but thankfully it cleared the bar. The sad fact at half-time was that neither side had managed an effort on target and we had, had 65% possession.
Lee Bowyer made the change at half-time that I thought was obvious. Ian Maatsen made his debut at left back as Darren Pratley was sacrificed. I thought Pratley had been clogging our attacking moves up when we had the extra man and without him we moved a bit more freely.
Indeed, on 55 minutes we should have taken the lead after Ryan Inniss climbed at the back post to head down a set-piece that cleared the goal-line. As the grey shirts came away celebrating, the referee gave the goal but five seconds later after angry Blackpool players crowded the linesman, he put his flag up. The goal was disallowed, presumably as a result of a suspicion that Bogle may have touched the ball on the line as it went in. The fact was the referee hadn't seen it and it looks very much like the lino bottled it.
Either way, Bogle's evening was over and Chuks Anneke entered the fray as Blackpool upped the ante and began to impose themselves a bit on the game without seriously threatening us. Maatsen kept them on their toes with a sliced left-foot effort from distance which cleared the bar and after Smyth came on for Washington we settled down once again and looked more coherent going forward.
With less than ten minutes left, Maatsen ran onto a ball knocked out from the Blackpool defence and pinged a swirling corner to the back of the six yard area. Alfie Doughty, still wearing his white headband, knocked it in towards the near post and Chuks Anneke reacted first by moving back towards the ball but he made a good enough contact to steer it in. It was a lead we barely deserved on the balance of play but which was justice for the goal that had been chalked off.
We had to play out six minutes of added time but that passed relatively uneventfully and the boys will be having a sing-song on the journey home this evening.
Still early days, of course, but the lessons are becoming clearer. Maatsen may have the pace and better of Purrington. Pratley needs to be used as a game holder in the second-half. Smyth and Anneke look better than Bogle and Washington on early viewing. We need to make better use of Shinnie and find a way to introduce Williams to press games.
We are up to eleventh with a game in hand that could move us to around sixth. We should be looking to beat Northampton more convincingly on Saturday.