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Analysis: In our Defence- Blackpool

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Iron fan Dave Spindley takes a look at the Iron’s rearguard action in a frustrating 0-0 draw with Blackpool at Glanford Park.

Saturday saw a workmanlike but largely uninspiring 0 – 0 draw against play-off challenging, newly promoted Blackpool.

An unchanged back five of Gilks, Sutton, Townsend, McArdle and Wallace looked to build on three straight clean sheets as there blossoming partnership faced a tough test from an opponent who appeared full of confidence and very determinedly stuck to their game plan.

Individually and collectively, it was a challenging afternoon as Blackpool set up to put the ball under a lot of pressure, which again resulted in reliance on the long ball, particularly early in the game. Once the rest of the team settled, the options for the defence were increased. Some exciting passing football was often instigated from passing the ball along the ground into midfield, who are all individually capable of keeping the ball moving.

In goal, Gilks continued his impressive start to the season, and while having to concentrate as Blackpool struggled to create many clear cut opportunities, he showed his obvious quality with a couple of outstanding saves when called upon to keep his recent record intact. Indeed, he was deservedly selected for the ‘League One Team of the Day’ in The Football League Paper. As in previous performances, he can be heard clearly from the stand organising and communicating effectively with his defensive colleagues.

Sutton was stretched at times as his left sided opponent was not short of pace. He quickly adjusted and gave himself a start in the regular footraces, and on the odd occasion he was beaten, he was supported ably by his covering team mates, notably McArdle who used his experience and positional sense to snuff out many attacks. When in possession, early in the game, Levi was more effective when under pressure, playing the ball quickly and looking to get forward in support. There were times when, given more space, he was a little indecisive, which resulted in putting himself or a team mate in difficulty. Credit should be given though as he only looked to the long ball as a last resort.

In the centre, the partnership between McArdle and Wallace continued to go from strength to strength. They were put under a lot of pressure early in the game and dealt with the physical presence and threat of the Blackpool front line. Unphased though, they preceded to challenge successfully from the vast majority of the balls played into their area. Resorting to illegal means was the only way the pacy and physical attack could (try to) gain any advantage. Once the early pressure began to recede both players showed their ability on the ball, carrying the ball into space and where possible playing the ball into feet. The second half saw them begin many an attack as the home team increased the pressure looking for the ultimately elusive goal.

On the left hand side, Townsend had an efficient and effective game. He was challenged by the height and aerial ability of his direct opponent who was considerably taller. The aerial ball to the right flank was regularly used by Blackpool as an outlet. While initially unsuccessful, the left back soon cleverly adjusted his position and used his foot speed and jumping ability to win his fair share of headers, in fact, as the game went on, that option was looked at less often. As usual, he worked well down the left flank, getting forward whenever possible, putting in some very dangerous crosses.

The ‘togetherness’ of the back four both collectively and in their respective pairings is pleasing to see as the season develops. They are becoming more of  a unit, showing a greater understanding of each other’s strengths and limitations. They should be very satisfied by the clean sheet as they restricted Blackpool to very few good chances. The opponents were quite a big physical team and it could be fair to predict they will score regularly from set pieces, an area of their play which was dealt with very successfully.

Same again next time.

Written by Will Montag

Will Montag is an English Literature graduate of Manchester Metropolitan University. He is an avid reader of fiction, and a lifelong Iron fan. Will enjoys various outdoor pursuits in his spare time.

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