‘There was very little between the two teams’: Neil Critchley reflects on Blackpool’s dreadful defeat to Derby County

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Neil Critchley felt there was very little to choose between Blackpool and Derby County during today’s dreadful defeat at Pride Park.

 

The Seasiders turned in their worst performance of the season to lose meekly to crisis club Derby, who prior to today had won just one game in 11.

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 stacked 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.

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

“I think the scoreline sort of sums up where we are at this moment in time,” Pool’s head coach said.

Blackpool boss Neil Critchley

Blackpool boss Neil Critchley

“As the scoreline suggests, there was very little between the two teams, there weren’t many opportunities for either team.

“In the first-half, I felt we shaded it and had the better moments but in the second-half, the one real opportunity they’ve had in the game, when your goalkeeper pulls off a really good save you’re hopeful you get that bit of luck that it goes wide or comes back to one of our players, but it falls for the lad and he taps it in.

“It was really stop-start after that, really scrappy. There were a lot of subs and injuries and when you’re trying to build momentum it’s very difficult to do that.

“When we did get into the final third towards the end of the game, it was quite obvious there was a bit of anxiety and a lack of composure.

“Our decision-making let us down as well, which is obviously a recurring theme at the moment.

“But we have to remember this is a tough league and we’re playing good teams. There were still aspects of our game that were still very good.

“It’s difficult to feel like that straight after the game when your overriding emotion is one of disappointment that we’ve lost.”

While Pool arguably edged the first-half, they offered absolutely nothing in the way of goalscoring opportunities in the second 45 minutes.

“I don’t think we did enough in the second-half,” Critchley conceded.

“In the first-half, we were the team that probably had the better moments and probably had the more threatening moments. They had very little.

“But in the second-half, the game never got going, it became really scrappy.

“They changed their shape today to go to three at the back, so when you’re chasing the game they have a lot of bodies behind the ball which means they can manage the game well, which they did extremely well.

“We didn’t do enough. I felt as a group in the second-half, the whole team, we just didn’t play the football or the moments we had in the first-half.”

The nature of Blackpool’s defeat is even more concerning given Derby’s off-the-field situation.

“We said at half-time the game was there for us to go and win. But in the second-half we were disappointing,” Critchley said.

“They weren’t any better by the way, they just got the goal in that decisive moment and because of that they can change the way they play and do things differently. Because it’s a stop-start game, it suits the team that is winning.

“We know we have to do better. That’s not me deflecting away from our performance in the second-half where we should do more, but we’ve just got to make sure we don’t do anything stupid or rash.

“That’s my message to the players straight away after the game. We have to stick together.

“We’ve got a good group of people in there but that gets tested in tough times, so let’s see.

“I spoke to the staff already about what we’re going to do next week in training, do we need to do something different? Or do we just need to carry on, believe in what we’re doing but look at ways at improving.

“They’re all the things that go on in your end and sometimes after a game it’s difficult to talk about that.

“I’m sure Sunday, which will not be a nice day, will give us time to think, reflect and speak to a few people. But on Monday we have to go again.”