When there’s smoke there’s usually fire but in the case of Blackpool F.C.’s match against Accrington Stanley F.C. on a beautiful sunny warm afternoon in East Lancashire there wasn’t a fire but rather two smoke bombs thrown only minutes apart early in the second half. In the same fixture last season a few “numpties” from the seaside resort town threw objects at Dimitar Emitov to throw him off his game and it worked, this year they tried again with tangerine coloured smoke bombs, and to Dimi’s credit he turned the other cheek. Having said that he certainly lives up to his new nickname “Mr. Excitement”, a very talented keeper who will keep you on the edge of your seat when he plays the ball in his box. He made a key save in the first half to keep Stanley’s slim lead intact, when he threw himself in front of what seemed like a tap in for Blackpool.
There’s nothing like being there live at a football match in the lower leagues but when you don’t get replays like you do sitting in your living you certainly miss them. I found myself looking at the scoreboard after Accrington took the lead on a Blackpool own goal and the reason why is because Simon Grayson was in my direct line of sight while he stood in his technical area, so I never did see the ball go in the net. Oh the joys of live sports.
Stats Can Be Deceiving
I spoke previously about stats being deceiving and being surprised how close they showed that Stanley was on par with Sunderland last week, well today I thought based on the flow of play it was be fairly even well was I off base again with the Seasiders having 61% of possession. I think that had a lot to do with Stanley sitting back in the second half protecting the lead, a dangerous game when you consider Accrington hasn’t had a clean sheet in several months. Stanley created some really good chances but has to be more clinical around the net with both Sean McConville and Jordan Clark coming close. Both players were quiet in the first half but give credit to Blackpool’s fullbacks who really marked them out of the match, however in the second half they become more involved in the match thanks to manager John Coleman’s adjustments in having his fullbacks overlap creating space for his two wingers.
I must say that my Man of the Match was Jerome Opoku who excelled at left back, he won more than his fair share of headers and his distribution was excellent. I sure hope that Coleman can extend his loan from Fulham F.C. in January until the end of the season. I don’t think left back is his proper position he’s more of a sweeper centre back, I would like to see him in a deep midfield position just in front of the back four, his height will allow him to win his fair share of aerial battles and his passing abilities would be well suited in moving the ball to the wingers, supporting the attacking midfielders and strikers. I would like to see it, but that’s not in Coleman’s make up but as fans we all like to tinker with the lineup don’t we?
I think bringing Joe Pritchard on for Connor Simpson made sense allowing McConville to play a more forward role, but I would have like to see an out and out striker come on and push for the second goal. Unfortunately, Stanley’s walking wounded of strikers didn’t allow that to happen. I think this was a match Offrande Zanzala would have had an impact with his pace as Blackpool’s CB’s weren’t the fleetest a foot, but he is among those Wounded.
Stanley’s play is improving and if it continues then those bounces will start falling their way and we will see these draws turn into wins, also getting some of their strikers back won’t go amiss.
The Good And Bad Of The Match Day Experience
As far as those “numpties” with their smoke bombs I hope they are identified and banned as there is no place in football at any level and in no way is it reflective on the 99% of the Blackpool supporters. How would they like it if we showed up to their place of work and threw smoke bombs at them? Not only is Dimitar “Mr. Excitement”, he showed tonnes of class and restraint as he played on knowing full well that a foreign object could be tossed in his general direction at any time. He is maturing as a player and has the talent to be a top keeper but he does keep you on the edge of your seat, but I wouldn’t be upset if he simply became “Mr. Reliable”.
When the smoke cleared Blackpool left town for the short ride home with a point. For Stanley fans it felt like a loss conceding in the 92nd minute again showing how far Accrington has come and how the bar of expectations by the fans has been raised. Last season I would have said the ball will soon bounce Stanley’s way but on this excellent pitch there is no unlucky bounces just true ones and Stanley are gradually getting use to the rub of the green.
It was nice to chat with Across the Pitch photographer John Earnshaw and catch up with author and contributor Darren Woodhead. It was like having a team building exercise at the Wham Stadium. Next up is the home match against Oxford United F.C. when we get to visit with the Facebook group Accrington Stanley Memories organized by Darren.
Until then On Stanley On!!