Derby County 1-0 Blackpool: Seasiders deliver worst performance of the season as their winless run goes on

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Blackpool turned in their worst performance of the season to lose meekly to crisis club Derby County.

 

The hosts, who remain in administration and look destined to be relegated this season, were rocked with the news before the game that Covid had spread among the camp – missing as many as seven players as a result.

Despite the odds being against them, Wayne Rooney’s side looked far hungrier than Blackpool, who were passive throughout.

The winning goal came via youngster Luke Plange, who tapped home his first professional goal on his first start for the club.

Neil Critchley’s men barely troubled the Derby net, which sees their goal drought extend to six hours of football.

The Seasiders, who haven’t won in their last seven, slip down to 17th, eight points ahead of the bottom three.

Given they were coming into this game on the back of a 3-0 home humbling to Luton Town, it wasn’t a huge surprise to see Critchley ring the changes.

The Seasiders have failed to score in their last six hours of football

The Seasiders have failed to score in their last six hours of football

Three alterations were made in total, as Callum Connolly, Sonny Carey and Shayne Lavery all came into the starting line-up.

Kenny Dougall, Demetri Mitchell and Jerry Yates were the three to make way.

Carey’s return was the first time he started for the Seasiders since the 1-0 defeat to Stoke City at the start of November.

Former Derby defender Richard Keogh, who made over 300 appearances for the Rams during a seven-year spell, remained on the bench.

Oliver Casey (ankle), Luke Garbutt (knee), Kevin Stewart (ankle), Matty Virtue (ACL), Grant Ward and Gary Madine (groin) all remain sidelined.

The likes of Daniel Gretarsson, Demetri Mitchell and Tyreece John-Jules were not involved.

Derby, who are mired in off-the-field strife, were without a number of first-team players who were forced to self-isolate due to Covid.

The Rams remain in administration and have been docked 21 points this season, leaving them bottom of the table on just one point.

The home side, who had only won one of their last 11 coming into this fixture, made the brighter start in terms of general play.

But it was the Seasiders who produced the first opening of the game and it was a very presentable one, too.

Shayne Lavery created it off his own back after beating Curtis Davies for pace, before pulling the ball back for the onrushing Ryan Wintle whose first-time shot was well blocked.

The Rams hit back with a good chance of their own following a deep free-kick into the Blackpool box which inadvertently fell kindly for captain Tom Lawrence, whose shot was superbly blocked by Callum Connolly.

The Seasiders were having to face more pressure than they perhaps anticipated in the early stages, but for all of Derby’s good play they weren’t able to muster up any clear opportunities.

By the same token, Pool weren’t showing enough going forward either.

They briefly threatened when Keshi Anderson slipped in Sonny Carey with a clever through-ball, only for former Pool loanee Ryan Allsop to claim after rushing off his line quickly.

Lavery had Allsop scampering across his goal midway through the first half when the Northern Irishman curled an effort towards the far post which crept just wide.

If Pool were going to score, Lavery looked the most likely man to get it, the striker heading straight at Allsop with a glancing effort at the near post from Reece James’ left-wing cross.

Lavery was in the thick of the action once again when he skipped past a couple of challenges to help get Pool up the pitch, but his progress was halted by a well-timed tackle from Davies in the box.

Richard Keogh was brought off the bench before the second-half got underway in place of Reece James, which saw James Husband move over to left-back.

His arrival brought a mixture of boos and applause from the home faithful.

Lavery had an early sight of goal within 60 seconds of the restart, seeing his shot deflect into the arms of Allsop after cutting in from the left.

Six minutes into the second-half, Pool fell behind.

It was conceded in such a poor fashion, as Luke Plange tapped home on the rebound after Chris Maxwell had palmed Kamil Jozwiak’s close-range shot away from goal.

Rather than respond, the Seasiders remained even more passive than they were before the goal and inevitably faced more pressure from the Rams.

Owen Dale squandered a half chance of sorts to get a shot off at goal after cutting in smartly from the right flank, but he produced a dreadful effort on his left foot which he dragged well wide of goal.

Something needed to change and Critchley concurred, introducing Josh Bowler for the ineffective Carey just after the hour mark.

Pool remained so passive though, almost as if they were just going through the motions against a Derby side that looked far hungrier.

Their last roll of the dice came with 15 minutes left on the clock when Jerry Yates replaced the anonymous Owen Dale, which saw the Seasiders revert to two up top.

The changes did little to alter the momentum of the game though, as Derby continued to look more likely to score the game’s second goal.

Blackpool’s afternoon almost went from bad to worse when Chris Maxwell required medical treatment.

With all three subs already made, James Husband came to the touchline to retrieve a spare pair of goalkeeping gloves.

Despite continuing to hobble, Maxwell opted to carry on and keep all 11 men on the pitch.

Blackpool were gifted seven minutes of stoppage time to get themselves an equaliser they didn’t deserve, but the visitors could continue to play all night and the chances are they still wouldn’t score.

TEAMS

Derby: Allsop, Forsyth, Jagielka, Davies, Knight, Williams (Cashin), Shinnie, Jozwiak, Bird (Thompson), Lawrence, Plange (Aghatise)

Subs not used: Roberts, Stearman, Sibley, Cybulski

Blackpool: Maxwell, Sterling, Ekpiteta, Husband, James (Keogh), Connolly, Wintle, Dale (Yates), Carey (Bowler), Anderson, Lavery

Subs not used: Grimshaw, Gabriel, Dougall, Hamilton

Referee: Andy Woolmer

Attendance: 21,663