League One Gameweek 18: Impressive Blackpool to Thrive at Roots Hall?4 min read
Terry McPhillips has done an excellent job at Blackpool.
Firstly, he has re-organized the Tangerines, who have conceded just 15 goals; fewer than every team in League One bar Sunderland, Portsmouth and Barnsley.
Inspirational captain Jay Spearing offers unrelenting tenacity to protect an impressive defence comprising of centre-backs Ben Heneghan and Curtis Tilt, the latter benefiting from Jordan Thompson’s set piece quality by scoring three league goals.
Oliver Turton has been a versatile, dependable performer while the athletic Marc Bola, at 20, is proving one of the most exciting young left-backs in the division; and that’s before we even mention influential goalkeeper Mark Howard.
Secondly, he has made them exciting to watch: while Blackpool play direct passes, there is an emphasis on getting men forward quickly and sustaining a high-tempo.
Rangers loanee Joe Dodoo, who has scored three goals in two recent cup games, is likely to be handed a league start and could be a threat: he represents an intriguing anytime goalscorer option at 14/5.
Thirdly, McPhillips has galvanized supporters who have stuck by the first team despite the Oyston regime and the togetherness was on show in that spirited EFL Cup performance at Arsenal, where they lost only 2-1 to a side containing the likes of Aaron Ramsey, Matteo Guendouzi and Henrikh Mkhitaryan.
After restricting those star performers, they are surely capable of nullifying a Southend United side ravaged by injuries.
Perhaps the most damaging injury at Roots Hall has come to striker Tom Hopper, who has scored seven goals.
The summer signing from Scunthorpe is not only very quick, but there is also a cleverness to his movement that makes him central to their attacking play.
When Hopper has started, the Shrimpers have scored 18 goals in 13 league games, in comparison with three in four when he hasn’t: in fact, one of that three was scored by Hopper, after he came off the bench in the 2-1 home defeat to Coventry.
Centre-back Harry Lennon and left-back Ben Coker joining the now lengthy list of absentees hardly helps their cause.
The coastal outfit have lost their last two games without finding the net against promotion chasers Barnsley and Sunderland, mustering a meagre three shots on target against the latter.
Although Chris Powell won the League One title while manager of Charlton 2012-13, he does employ a safety-first mentality which can sometimes limit the number of players his sides are able to commit to attacks.
Blackpool have won without conceding on five of their 16 league encounters this season; that’s a 31