Blackpool 1, Barnsley 1
(SkyBet League One)
Barnsley picked up a point by the seaside on Saturday – but it should have been three.
They dominated large parts of the Bloomfield Road clash with hosts Blackpool, led through last season’s Player of the Year Conor Hourihane, but failed to get a killer second or even third goal their domination of the football demanded and in the end they were punished by a second half leveller.
Afterwards Reds head coach Lee Johnson accused his side of playing too much ‘Ole style football’ and not going for the throat against the struggling Seasiders.
Barnsley enjoyed a dream start when terrific approach play from the industrious Marley Watkins teed up the impressive Hourihane inside the box and the attacking midfielder scuffed his shot past keeper Colin Doyle.
The Reds, with Hourihane and fellow midfielder Ben Pearson playing very well, then held sway for the remainder of the half but too often opted just to retain possession rather than going for goal.
And that policy backfired as Blackpool changed their formation and tactics for the second period and drew level with a 55th minute effort from half-time substitute Jack Redshaw.
Hourihane almost won it for the visitors but he could not repeat his first half effort and at the final whistle there was a sense of disappointment among the Barnsley players and management at not having secured victory in front of a tremendous away following of 1,600.
However, it did need a superb stop from Nick Townsend to deny Redshaw a second goal for Blackpool.
Admitted Johnson: “We were dominant in the first half without having enough opportunities on goal. Blackpool then threw caution to the wind in the second half and we got into some great areas. We had the opportunities but not the gumption in the final third.
“They had a couple of good chances themselves and it was probably a fair result in the end. We weren’t penetrative enough. We should have been done and dusted by half-time.
“But I said at the break I thought we were enjoying it too much if anything. We should have been more ruthless. I was disappointed to lose the lead though this is what you get with a young group.”
“When Blackpool went from a 4-4-1-1 to a diamond formation it meant we should have killed them in wide areas. I asked our players to switch the ball quickly but we didn’t quite do that. We were run off for the goal and I’m disappointed in the midfield for that.
“We were playing some ‘Ole’ football but it wasn’t really penetrative enough and that’s something we needed to address. If you do that you’re always in the hands of the gods, with a breakaway or whatever.
“Conor got another goal and I thought he played very well again. If anyone from Ireland are watching him, and I’m sure they are, then he’s certainly knocking on that door.
“Nick Townsend pulled off a tremendous save to deny Redshaw a second goal. I know a few of the fans aren’t sold on him just yet, but he’s a top keeper. Saturday was only his second ever league game and his save at the end was huge.
“He’s an outstanding shot stopper, as good as I’ve seen, and he saved us a point with that effort.
“We are still a couple of points from the play-offs and I think we are still in a good position.”
Blackpool: Doyle, Boyce, Jones, Aldred, Ferguson, Cameron (Thomas, h-t), Cubero (Redshaw, h-t), Herron (Norris, 76 mins), McAlister, Potts, Cullen. Unused substitutes: Robertson, Oliver, Letheren, Paterson.
Barnsley: Townsend; Wabara, Nyatanga, Mawson, G Smith; Harris, Pearson (Jackson, 90 mins), Scowen; Hourihane, Watkins; Winnall (M Smith, 72 mins), Watkins. Unused substitutes: Davies, Bree, Roberts, Williams, Rothwell.
Referee: C Kavanagh (Lancashire).