League One Gameweek Six: Cagey Coastal Clash?5 min read
It’s a clash of two historic, ex-top flight, former FA Cup-winning Seaside clubs on Saturday as Blackpool welcome Portsmouth to the Fylde coast in League One Gameweek Six.
Defence paramount for Pool
Simon Grayson did not have the best of seasons as a manager in 2017-18; he oversaw a third of Sunderland’s Championship relegation campaign, then mustered just three wins in 14 while in charge of Bradford.
On reflection, though, those 12 months were perhaps more indicative of the problems at the clubs he managed at the time he managed them, rather than his management itself.
Happily for Grayson, he took charge of Blackpool after the woe-ridden Oyston regime and with a sensible, caring chairman in Simon Sadler – the early signs are that he is benefiting from the extra stability.
Free bar from Simon Sadler open to all after the fans forum. If Carlsberg did football club owners… pic.twitter.com/m4lFgjqiGv
— John Aspinall (@SeasidersPod) July 1, 2019
Blackpool sit joint-top of League One after five games; they are thus far unbeaten with 11 points from a possible 15.
A critic might suggest that, after accomplished displays in the 2-0 and 3-1 wins over Southend and Bristol Rovers respectively, performance levels have dipped somewhat.
Their marking in the 2-1 win over Oxford was suspect and had they faced a team better at finishing, they could very easily have lost.
The following Tuesday, they had a reasonable amount of midfield control through Jordon Thompson and Jay Spearing – yet had only half their hosts’ number of shots on target.
While they were more successful in their subsequent attempts to negate Rochdale’s threat, they struggled to create themselves in the 0-0 draw at Spotland.
That was partly because Nathan Delfouneso missed out through a hamstring injury and, when Sulley Kaikai is part of the front two rather than behind it, he does not have quite as many options ahead of him.
Grayson might look to re-jig the system, but it remains to be seen whether he trusts either of the other forwards – Joe Nuttall or Ryan Hardie – to start in Delfouneso’s absence.
Pompey must stick with Jackett
Portsmouth have not quite had the start they wanted to their league campaign, with four points from their first four games.
It’s far too early however, for Pompey to review the position of Kenny Jackett, who has overseen progress in each of his two seasons in charge and has perhaps the best third-tier record out of all the managers this decade, baring perhaps his next opposite number.
Pompey have in fact won three games in league and cup this season after Wednesday night’s 2-0 win at QPR, so the grounds for changing the perception of Jackett would be three league games.
In the 1-0 loss at Shrewsbury, Portsmouth went close numerous times in the second half and lost to a freak, long-range belter; they were then narrowly defeated 2-1 at big spending Sunderland and had their chances on Wearside.
Plus, while there are valid questions to be asked about the overly conservative substitution Jackett made to preserve a lead against nine-men, before the team ultimately caved in the 3-3 draw with Coventry, it should at least be acknowledged that the team led by a so-called ‘negative’ manager scored three goals.
All this has been happening after Pompey lost their two best players in centre-back Matt Clarke and right-sided forward Jamal Lowe – one of the positives of the early season performances is that Marcus Harness is proving an adequate replacement for Lowe.
When Lee Brown picked up an Achilles’ injury against Coventry, he joined four other players on the sidelines across August and, with 10 new players coming in this summer, a brief period of transition was always likely.
Tight tussle at Bloomfield Road?
Blackpool have kept their opponents out in seven of their 10 halves of league football to date and we can expect another solid showing from Simon Grayson’s side.
Portsmouth, meanwhile, will look to steady the ship, eradicate mistakes and avoid defeat because, with a relatively favourable run of fixtures coming over September, there is an opportunity for them to start putting a run together after this game.
Tip: Under 2.5 goals