Football Blog: Tangerine Flavoured

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Are we made of sugar? the Mighty vs t'Rovers

Questions to be answered tonight include: 

- What happens to Critchball in the rain and wind? What if it turns out to be a summer sport? 

- Who is the trialist that isn't the left back with interesting hair? (no one seems to know) 

- How will we get on against a side who aren't half asleep (Everton) but also aren't clearly not as good as us (the other pre season games) 

- Will tonight be the match in which Jamie Devitt announces himself in a tangerine shirt as the embodiment of everything that is good about football? It seems unlikely but I'm always here for the underdog and if Devitt isn't going to be shifted from the squad, it would be great if he turned out to have other attributes other than floppy scarecrow hair and a name. 

What a foul evening. The far side of the pitch is disappearing into a grey soup and Blackpool's mostly reserve side seems a throwback to the period in the mid 90s when everyone seemed literally bigger and stronger than us. I'm a bit worried Teddy Howe might have to wear a shirt with stones sewn into it to stop him blowing away. 

The trialist centre back who no one know steps out nicely once, but trying to repeat the action two minutes later gives it straight to Rovers who fashion a shooting chance. The lad couldn't have shouted "Look Neil, I'm a ball playing centre half" more loudly if he'd had a neon sign over his head. He doesn't do too badly in the half overall but I can't make my mind up if he's doing what comes naturally or trying to fit to the way he perceives he's got to play in order to win a contract. 

Rovers cut through Pool with ease and a cross from the right is glanced in. It feels like there's barely a shadow of a tackle in the move and we're a goal down. 

Nottingham plays a raking ball through the murk, Feeney controls beautifully but is denied by a sliding challenge. Then Pool fashion a nice move, Sarkic feeding Virtue who eventually finds Feeney who finds the keeper's chest. 

Nottingham wins a footrace to concede a corner from a nice through ball. That's where he looks best, running against a defender. His speed is surprising, given he lopes about but he really does have an electric turn of pace and seems to time a challenge well. He's impressed me. I liked Beneghan but Nottingham seems to do most of what he did and runs faster. 

A terrible square ball (from potential player of the year Devitt) nearly gifts Rovers a goal, but Jack Sims makes a good save. From the resulting scramble, a long ball emerges and sets Feeney free who neither hits the bottom corner or the awaiting Nathan Shaw who would have had the goal at his mercy.  

Several times Rovers nearly breakthrough, first from a dodgy pass from Howe, that Antwi has to be at full stretch to deny. Then 'Super' Jamie Devitt plays a lovely through ball but for the wrong team and Sims again spares his blushes. Good belligerent defending from Demitri Mitchell denies Rovers as they look like they're trying to pick the lock on an open door. Jack Sims then tries to back heel/Cruyff turn his way from an onrushing forward and has trialist centre half to thank for an industrial challenge on a Rovers attacker who looks poised to punish the impetuosity of youth. 

For Pool, the quality is lacking and meaningful forward play is limited to one foray by Demitri Mitchell who has played well. Mitchell though gets caught the wrong side of his man as Blackburn simply pass the ball through the middle and score, the second slipped neat and low past Sims and again it's hard to identify a challenge in the whole three pass move. 

Nothing worthy of mention happens until Nathan Shaw has a run just before half time, squares to Devitt who slips, misses his chance to shoot, but receiving the ball again plays a lovely slide rule pass that Sarkic can't quite finish. It's a moment where you think 'ah! that's what Terry Mc saw in him' but he's done far too little overall to suggest he's got any chance of playing his way into this team for real. 

Then, out of nowhere, Virtue is bearing down on goal on a through ball from Nottingham and finishing for a goal that Pool don't really deserve. Virtue has been typically Virtue. Neat and tidy without pulling up any trees, but the lad can certainly finish and he's a water carrier for more skillful players. He hasn't really had better players around him and hence he's not had any real influence. 

The half finishes fittingly on a looping Feeney cross to noone. 


At half time it's difficult to see if anyone has really taken their chance. It's a horrible, horrible evening to play football so it's maybe unfair to expect the same champagne football from summer afternoons on a dry pitch in these conditions. Nottingham has had some decent interceptions and probably looked the most comfortable to my eye at the back and maybe the best player on the pitch. 

Devitt's use of the ball has been less than careful to say the least (I'm being polite) and he can't have impressed Critchley by losing his rag and committing a clumsy, deliberate, frustrated foul in a meaningless preseason game for no reason other than he's had a shit game. That's not the kind of player I think Critch is interested in. 

Nathan Shaw has had a hard time getting into the game on the right (why is he on the right and Feeney on the left?), but his delivery from corners has been very good, he's got the knack as I observed in the last game of delivering a hanging ball. Sarkic has been tidy enough without setting the world on fire and seems to be playing out of position as well. It's just felt disjointed and quite uncomfortable with two trialists at the back. The left back has been ok overall but the centre back I'm not sure about. 


The cult hero Garrity joins the action along with Jordan Thorniley. Twitter will be happy. I am happy. I want Ben Garrity to be brilliant even more than I wanted Jamie Devitt to score a hatrick. 

Pool press a bit more but Rovers, like a parent arm wrestling a child soon force us back and keep us pinned there for ages. They're dominant without really forcing a shot on goal. The first 20 mins go by with barely anything to remember. Pool nearly have a nice move where Mitchell combines with Shaw who spins and finds Sarkic who almost threads the ball through the Rovers defence. That's more or less it. 

Pool are more solid defensively but still lacking in the verve and edge that's needed to pressure Rovers. 

I get excited as Rovers make a daft pass at the back and the man Garrity is free, but I don't really understand why he offloads it when he's got a world of space in front of him. The players around don't either as none of them were anticipating the pass. 

A nice ball from the trialist centre half sees Sarkic away but his shot never worries Rovers' sub keeper. Like Feeney in the first half, Sarkic has a few efforts that I never think are going in. 

The new keeper, (Fojtieck) makes two good saves at the feet of Rover's strikers and seems quite calm with the ball. 

The half is sluggish. It's clear both sides have got their fitness and practice in and the sooner this is over the better. Critchley is steadfastly refusing to make changes. 

Nathan Shaw nearly benefits from some lax defending, getting a chance to turn on a loose ball, the turn is neat and nimble but the shot is always rising. 

Some more football happens but it's mostly dismal and grey and obscured by water on the camera lens. 

Then it's Shaw again, shoulder charging and winning possession, skipping past two and threading a perfect ball to Feeney who looks scared to score and balloons the ball over the bar rather than run at the keeper. Shaw's work was probably the best bit of football of the match. As I said above, he's not been outstanding but he's 19, playing on the wrong side of the pitch and in a totally disjointed side and I think he's been one of the better players. I like his determination and his technical ability. 

We concede again as Fojicek undos what was a decent half's work by him and the defense in general as he settles on a loose ball then inexplicably tries to beat, not one, but two Rovers players at the same time - it's one of those moments, where as soon as you see what he's trying to do you think 'that's going to end badly...' and it does, as he twists, spins and falls over leaving the simplest of tap ins. 

We finish with Husband cantering forward into a defender and Grant Ward having a shot so lame, he might as well have just picked the ball up and walked off, so obvious is it that preseason is over for everyone on the pitch. Lets just crack on now, with the real thing. 


It was an odd game from the moment the line ups were released. A strong Rovers were far too good for a second string Blackpool. The incredible hunger we saw in other preseason games simply wasn't there and some of the players on show didn't really seem to have the same zest or verve, the same desire to win or ability to play quick football and interlink. Whether some of them don't want to or just can't, I doubt any of the more senior lads who got a chance did their prospects any good. 

Some have questioned Jerry Yates in preseason, wondering if he's the clinical man we need, but his absence was so sorely felt as we put no real pressure on the backline. Without him pulling the defence about, it never looked as if the midfield or wingers might score. To be fair, though I've questioned the Goal Machine fitting into this side, he'd certainly have made a difference as well tonight. Sarkic looked a tidy player but certainly not the man to lead the line. Similarly the constant buzz of Anderson and the electric pace of Hamilton were conspicuous by their absence and given the impression these players have made, it was always a stretch to imagine Jamie Devitt filling the gap left by them. 

Feeney was particularly disappointing, played on the left he really did little other than spurn a couple of chances and he must have gone 20 minutes without seeing the ball in the second half. Yes, he had the most chances but not one of them really ever looked like being a goal. Antwi did ok for a young lad but I think expecting him to be the fulcrum of the midfield as maybe his earlier performances suggested is a stretch. The calm ball playing of Ethan Robson was missed as the midfield really didn't keep the ball well at all for the majority of the game. 

Garrity had a run around but I think if he's going to be league footballer he needs a year at somewhere like Morecambe or even in the National League. That's not intended to be a scathing critique because what kind of twat would lay into a lad who was playing part time earlier this year...? It's just what I honestly think the lad needs to maximise his chances of making a go of it. Similarly, Howe tried very hard and threw himself about but he looks like he needs to strengthen before looking like a full back proper. 

The two trialists had fairly solid second halves. The young left back looks worth a longer look. I'm not convinced about his defensive positioning, but he's certainly got something and has a good attitude, retains the ball well and plenty of pace and skill. Jordan Thorniley is convincing me more each time I see him. He seems more assured with each game and uses the ball well and I could see the Nottingham of the first half partnering Thorniley to reasonable effect. 

Maybe that's what Critch learned, but I suspect he's going to play Big Marvin and see if he can retain the shirt before he picks Nottingham though. I was slightly worried by the weird wingers on the wrong side business, he's otherwise seemed to make all the right moves but anyone who's ever watched Feeney play could tell you, he needs to play on the right. 

Overall, it felt a bit like going to a lovely place in the Lake District for a walk but in unexpectedly shit weather. You look forward to it, but then you trudge round miserably in the rain because now you're here, you might as well do it. You can't see the views you expected and the picnic is dismal affair, but you get on with it anyway because it was arranged.  

I think the whole fixture felt like that. Critchley knows what he knows already. He knows, aside from a couple of questions about the defence, exactly who his first 15 or 16 names are, and what he's learnt tonight is little more than a few of the fringe players aren't going to add much to the squad. No one got injured and very little changed really. 

Sadly, I can exclusively reveal that Jamie Devitt is definitely not the new Charlie Adam. 




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