After last week's terrible display can we hope for an improvement? Well, let's just say that I'm not at all confident about that. Whatever the truth about McGeadygate, we'll be losing someone who on his day is one of our best performers and we badly need a bit of flair. If it was a training-ground incident, surely a manager is supposed to manage such events. It's also rumoured that we need to sell McGeady to raise some money. Unless we get a new manager for Christmas, and how nice that would be, McGeady's out the door and who will be next? Anyway, I'll be at the match – my first home game since August. One bit of good news is that Gooch looks likely to play some part and I'll be happy to see him back. Surely Wyke has to start as he made some difference when he came on against Gillingham. Blackpool are doing well and are currently six points above us in fourth position. I'm sure they and their manager Simon Grayson will be relishing the prospect of coming to the SoL today. I can't say that I feel the same. Match prediction: 1-2.
I got the team news while having a pre-match slurp in Fitzie's and was pleased to see that the side had been considerably revamped since last week with Hume, Wyke and Maguire all starting and Gooch on the bench. We wondered what had happened to Kimpoka. I arrived at the stadium later than usual at 2.50 and expected to miss the kick-off but there was no queue at all. There were plenty of empty seats as we kicked-off and it looked a lot less than twenty-five thousand to me. We started off brightly with a couple of corners in the first two minutes but any hopes of a bright start were dashed when Blackpool won a corner near the left angle of our box and when we'd failed to get the ball clear, Virtue-Thick smashed a great shot into the top left corner to put them in the lead. Nothing much happened for around fifteen minutes till we finally put together a decent attack and when the ball was knocked across their box to Watmore on the left he got a header in but it was well over the bar. In the next minute McLaughlin had to get down low to block a shot from Gnanduillet who'd been allowed to wriggle through. Soon the Blackpool fans were chanting, “Is this a library?” Hume was making some good runs down the left and both he and Watmore gave me hope that we'd pull one back. We won a corner on the right eight minutes before the break and it was lammed in by Wyke to put us level. We were certainly playing a damn site better than last week though of course that wouldn't have taken much but in the fortieth minute it looked that Blackpool were certain to retake the lead till Gnanduillet thoughtfully intervened and knocked it wide of the left post. The ref, Ollie Yates, was allowing them a lot of unpunished tough tackles but deep into stoppage-time he yellow-carded O'Nien for a tackle and Gnanduillet for what looked like too much verbal. There was a good smattering of applause as the whistle went.
We started the second-half quite positively too and soon there was even a chant of “Red and White Army!” Wyke got the end of a low cross from Power but his enterprising back-heel was blocked. We were still indulging in ponderous build-ups and too often passed it sideways and even backwards instead of going forwards. We managed a couple of corners in quick succession midway through the half, from the first of which a Wyke header hit the bar. Finally in the seventy-second minute we brought on Gooch for Watmore, who'd put a good shift in but had been down injured just beforehand. Gooch was warmly welcomed in the appropriate manner. Just afterwards Dobson was red-carded in dubious circumstances for a foul on Gnanduillet and this didn't do anything for our fans' opinion of referee Yates. I'd been fantasizing of us snatching a win but when we were down to ten men, a draw seemed a more realistic hope. With twelve minutes to go we replaced Wyke with Grigg, who again failed to win anything in the air but he was constantly manhandled by Tilt. Leadbitter replaced Maguire, who'd had a largely ineffective match, with six minutes left and just after that we had our best move of the half when Gooch fed O'Nien down the right and he put in a great low cross but it was blocked. I don't recall a single shot on target all half. The crowd was announced -30,595 – and this at least brought some mirth to those all around me. There was applause, of the sarcastic kind, for ref Yates when he finally awarded us a free-kick for a foul. There were four minutes of stoppage-time but we don't have another sniff and it ended 1-1.
Have we turned the corner? Frankly, no. See you on Boxing Day.