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The prodigal son returns, but Blackpool disappoint yet again 13:57 - Jan 15 with 9 viewsBringBackTheRedRoom

Matt Scrafton's verdict on abject FA Cup defeat to Reading

Blackpool fans are being given very little to cheer about at the moment, so it was heartening at least to witness the return of the prodigal son.

Charlie Adam entered the fray in the final minute of Tuesday night’s FA Cup replay to a poignant and touching standing ovation for what was the midfielder’s first return to Bloomfield Road since his departure in 2011.

It wasn’t just the biggest cheer of the night from a Blackpool perspective, it was probably the only one.

For this was another insipid, abject display from the Seasiders who are now without a win in their last seven outings.

This was also their third home game without a goal, their last one coming in their last victory, the 3-1 win against Fleetwood Town at the start of December.

In fact, since overcoming Joey Barton’s men, the Seasiders have scored just five goals in their subsequent seven games.

Creating and scoring goals has been an issue for Blackpool all season, so it’s nothing particularly new.

But it’s far too simplistic to say scoring is their only problem, considering they’ve now conceded two goals in each of their last three outings.

Mistakes, poor ones too, are beginning to creep into their game and even the defence is now not looking so solid.

Manager Simon Grayson is now coming under growing pressure from the fanbase, who are not only angry with the recent results but also the manner in which they are failing to win games.

Pool looked devoid of ideas at times during this third round replay, which is quite the indictment when they were facing a Reading side that made all 11 changes - fielding a side made up of fringe first-team players and youngsters.

Yes, some of those youngsters clearly have bags of talent – the attacking ones especially – but the Royals were there to be beaten but the Seasiders just didn’t have what was required to get the job done.

If this is due to a lack of quality in Blackpool’s squad, as Grayson suggests, then it appears odd that 10 of the 11 players that started on Tuesday were ones he inherited from last season. Surely it is time to throw Grant Ward and Jordan Thorniley into the mix?

While social media is awash with Pool fans wanting Grayson to go, I don’t anticipate Simon Sadler getting rid of the manager in the midst of a transfer window where he’s actively backing him with extra funds.

Grayson claims the Seasiders will be one of the busiest clubs in England this month when it comes to both incomings and outgoings and you’d probably say that desperately needs to be the case.

I do, however, worry slightly that bringing in an influx of new players midway through the season - and getting them up to speed right away - could prove tricky. But needs must I guess.

In the form Pool are in, the new arrivals are going to have to make an instant impact otherwise the club are in danger of getting pushed further and further away from the top six.

But we all know how quickly football can change and, should they secure a couple of quickfire victories, Pool will be right in and amongst the play-off places.

Given Pool had 10 days without a game before their replay, it is worrying how lethargic and off the pace they looked.

Grayson insists his side’s poor performance had nothing to do with tactics or systems, but I did struggle to get my head around exactly what formation they were attempting to play.

It was a flexible 4-4-1-1 system of sorts, yet while Liam Feeney was wide right and constantly hugging the touchline, the other three midfielders were all central ones in the form of Jay Spearing, Callum Guy and Matty Virtue.

That left a huge gap on the left flank which gave no support whatsoever for left-back James Husband who, while not having the best of games, often had no outball and nowhere to go other than backwards.

When Pool did work it centrally, there was a mis-mash of players who often got in the way of each other.

Playing in this system you don’t get the best out of Nathan Delfouneso, who was playing in a forward’s role just off targetman Armand Gnanduillet.

Pool were actually okay during a fairly even first half but, as has been the case on several occasions this season, if they don’t get that first goal then they struggle.

Instead, Reading got it three minutes before the interval as Lucas Boye capitalised on Jay Spearing’s mistimed clearance to prod a close-range effort through the legs of Mark Howard.

The men in tangerine rallied at the start of the second half but again squandered chances when they came their way, Matty Virtue coming closest with a diving header that was well saved by Sam Walker.

It was left to Jordan Obita to seal Pool’s fate eight minutes from time, squeezing a shot in at the near post after Howard had saved his initial back-post header.

Grayson will point towards the chances his side missed, Delfouneso going close with a couple of headers and both Callum Guy and Gnanduillet drilling just wide.

But in truth it could have been even more comfortable for Reading, who hit the woodwork on three occasions.

The game did at least end on a positive note with Adam’s arrival, but the Seasiders desperately need to get back to winning ways – and fast – if the fans are to have anything else to shout about.

"He's not the Messiah. He's a very naughty boy!"


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