Blackpool 2 Preston North End 0: Dave Seddon's verdict - Frustration and anti-climax for PNE in long-awaited derby clash
This game was eight years in the making, the build-up to it starting the moment that the Championship fixture list was published in June.
For the Preston North End faithful who had counted themselves fortunate to get hold of a ticket from the meagre 2,200 allocation, it was an utter anti-climax.
They watched their team beaten by a Blackpool side who let’s be honest, didn’t need to be in top gear to earn the three points.
The game statistics would point to there not being too much between the rivals.
Shots and corners were close calls either way, North End edging the amount of time spent on the ball.
But, and this is a big but, anyone sat in Bloomfield Road and also at Deepdale for the beam back, would have seen a bigger difference in the two teams.
The home side wanted it that bit more, North End dare I say a touch passive in their approach.
Over the 90 minutes there was just a brief spell after the interval when it looked like the visitors might be getting on top of their seaside hosts.
For the remainder though, there was an edge to Blackpool’s play which just gave them the upper hand.
That meant a tough watch for the away fans, some of who didn’t get into the ground until well after kick-off due to some questionable decisions made by the authorities outside the ground.
A miss from Ben Whiteman at the start of the second half aside, there was little to excite the travelling North Enders.
I would normally have used the phrase ‘get them out of their seats’ but most stood all match anyway.
The fans made their view of what they were seeing loud and clear as the afternoon went on.
Some chanted for Frankie McAvoy to go, that never a pleasant chant to hear and a sign of supporter unrest.
At the final whistle there were loud booing, not just isolated stuff.
It was an uncomfortable moment, players reluctant to come the full way over to clap the fans because of the flea in the ear awaiting them.
You couldn’t blame the fans’ frustration as the bragging rights were handed over to the home supporters.
Not since April 2009 had Blackpool beaten PNE, not since December 1997 had North End left the Fylde coast a beaten side.
The last meeting was more than eight years ago in August 2013, hence the anger and disappointment how this one turned out.
Back to October 2021 and the Lilywhites are on a run of one win in nine league games.
There have been six draws in that sequence, this only a second defeat. But Saturday’s loss cut deeply, against their biggest rivals when so much local pride was at stake.
Bad results in derbies do evoke a more emotional response than other games might. But on this occasion it was very understandable.
For the third game in a week, McAvoy referenced his half-time team talk which included the instruction to his players to be more aggressive in the second half.
Against Derby the Saturday before they had been given the round around during the first half.
Coventry had been better for 45 minutes on Wednesday night before PNE pulled a far better second-half out of the bag to go on and win.
At Blackpool, they had to chase the game from the 27th minute and never caught up, a second home goal with 22 minutes left clinching the three points for Neil Critchley’s men.
To add insult to injury, PNE finished the contest with 10 men when Alan Browne was shown the red card.
It was already game over with six minutes of stoppage-time played when Browne was sent-off.
He had been on a yellow card since the end of the first half for pulling back Keshi Anderson.
When Sean Maguire was fouled attempting one last break up field and reacted by confronting his assailant, it prompted a coming together of Lilywhite and Tangerine, players from both sides wading in.
Browne was one of the first in and did so quite robustly, his punishment a second yellow and then red.
Nine yellow cards and the red shown by Tim Robinson suggests a dingdong battle for the Sussex referee to control.
Far from it, the fouls were niggly and nine cautions for me were excessive.
Some of the supporters’ discontent at the moment is aimed at the 3-5-2 system which McAvoy plays and has done since his second game in interim charge in April.
The North End head coach switched to 4-4-2 during the second half as they chased what at the time was a one goal deficit. Within a few minutes of that change, Blackpool scored their second goal.
Disappointingly, 4-4-2 on this occasion was to produce little in terms of getting PNE back into the game, whether at 1-0 or 2-0.
McAvoy had sent out an unchanged starting XI at the seaside, that on the back of the 2-1 win over Coventry.
Maguire’s inclusion on the bench at the expense of Josh Murphy who was injured, was the only change in the squad.
With a boisterous crowd behind them, Blackpool as expected made the stronger start, one North End seemed to have ridden out before the hosts scored out of the blue.
A ball down the left channel found James Husband in lots of room, Sepp van den Berg dropping off into the middle before stepping out to engage.
Husband’s low cross found Anderson, his shot clipping his standing leg and rolling in at the near post past Daniel Iversen.
Whiteman had a golden chance to level two minutes into the second half as PNE countered from a corner.
Van den Berg’s pass freed Emil Riis down the right, the Dane’s cross feeding Whiteman who fired wide of the far post.
Maguire and Tom Barkhuizen replaced Daniel Johnson and – rather unluckily I thought – Josh Earl, as PNE switched system.
The change hadn’t taken affect when Blackpool scored their second.
Jerry Yates got to a ball on the edge of the box ahead of Andrew Hughes before threading a low cross into the goalmouth, Gary Madine getting there in front of Browne to touch the ball beyond Iversen.
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