It's a must win tonight. Our immediate rivals aren't playing so we've got a golden chance to start making those games in hand count and if we can't beat Blackpool at home, we don't deserve to go up yet. Luton are looking a bit out of sight at the moment but I'd be happy with the second automatic spot anyway and that's very achievable. All these draws and conceding late goals have been very frustrating so let's hope the team have been revved up to put things right this evening. I liked the look of Grigg but he hardly got a sniff on Saturday so I'd like to see us go 4-4-2 with Wyke alongside him. The new players will be bedding in as games go by and there should be an improvement on the showing at Oxford. I can't get to the match so it'll have to be SAFSEE for me but I'm still feeling fairly optimistic so my match prediction is a 2-1 win for us.
When I got the team-news at 7.15, I saw that Watmore, Gooch and O'Nien were starting instead of Morgan, Power and Matthews and all in all that seemed fine to me. I also felt that the bench was looking strong (okay, not Ruiter). I got the match online and we won a corner in the second minute, which got the crowd roaring, and we immediately won another. Blackpool soon fought back and won a corner themselves so it looked like we'd be in for a lively match. There was quite a long stoppage when left-back Bola was injured and Feeney had to replace him. We created several chances in the opening ten minutes and it was sounding better than Saturday's early efforts. By the twentieth minute our earlier sense of urgency had evaporated and the catalogue of misplaced passes and of a player not getting on the end of a cross was sounding familiar. Next thing Dunne whistled a good shot just wide of the bottom of the post and that was a bit more like it. Around the half-hour mark the ref Carl Boyeson played an advantage and Watmore fed Grigg but his shot from twelve yards out wasn't strong enough and Howard in goal saved easily. Immediately afterwards Blackpool showed us how to do it when Gnanduillet smashed a shot into the bottom left corner to put them ahead. We had a penalty shout straight afterwards when O'Nien was caught on the ankle but the ref wasn't having it. We hadn't scored two goals in a game for two months but we'd have to if we wanted those three points. We really needed to get level before the break and a McGeady free-kick that hit the outside of the post offered some hope. In the dying minutes, though, Blackpool were sounding more threatening and despite there only being a minute's stoppage-time and not at least two like there should've been, I didn't feel like arguing. There was a fair deal of booing as the whistle went and no doubt that was aimed at the ref. Commentator Gary Bennett said we lacked creativity in midfield and just weren't creating chances for Grigg, who hadn't had a mention for ages and that said it all.
There was a worrying moment early on in the second-half when Gnanduillet strolled past three of our defenders and hit a shot that went very narrowly wide. Wyke came on for Gooch six minutes in and we changed to 4-4-2. The game swung back our way and a good shot from Watmore just missed the target as we entered a good period of pressure. Shortly after the hour-mark Morgan came on for McGeady to much applause all round. Grigg seemed certain to score as he rounded Howard but instead of slotting it into the open net, he hit the side-netting. It seemed Will Grigg wasn't on fire. Wyke had a shot on target and we were creating plenty of chances but the clock was ticking away all too quickly. In the seventy-fourth minute we finally drew level and it was from another corner, which Baldwin headed home to send the crowd into raptures. Well, at least we hadn't lost our goal-a-game record but could we win it? There was still plenty of time and the momentum was with us. Next thing Flanagan came on for James, who'd been struggling, and then Thompson received the first yellow card of the evening with ten minutes to go, which was unusual. Blackpool were guilty of some blatant time-wasting as we kept up the pressure in the closing minutes but justice was done when six minutes of stoppage-time were announced. We kept battling but couldn't get that winner and it ended 1-1.
I think I'll save my justified disappointment till the morning as at the moment I'm still feeling relieved that we didn't lose.