Hull 0 -1 Blackpool – Gaining Control

Blackpool start the season with a win and a clean sheet, but at times Hull were threatening and had they shown more composure in front of goal then they may have secured a draw.

Setting up

Hull set up in a standard 4-4-2, with Robbie Brady starting wide left supported by a central midfield duo of Paul McKenna and Tom Cairney with Robert Koren holding position on the right flank. Up front Dele Adebola and Matty Fryatt were given starts. For Blackpool Craig Cathcart lined up in the middle of defence with Alex Baptiste at right back. Barry Ferguson anchored the midfield with Keith Southern and Elliot Grandin supporting him as Ian Holloway set up in his normal 4-3-3. Up front Kevin Phillips held the central striker role supported by Gary Taylor-Fletcher on the right and Brett Ormerod on the left.


4-3-3 up against a 4-4-2. Similar feeling for Blackpool

Opening up

Tactically the game appeared pretty straight forward. Hull looked to close Blackpool down quickly and high up the pitch. In possession they either went high and long to Adebola or worked the ball to the flanks. Blackpool on the other hand sought to control possession in midfield, but went long from back to front quite often wide right to the head of Taylor-Fletcher.

Hull had the best of the early part of the match. They looked to try and make Blackpool rush their possession and in particular both McKenna and Cairney stepped up when required to pressurise Ferguson in the deep. Brady was the main threat throughout the game and Hull tried where they could to  get him one v one where possible and subsequently he was able to get in to some good crossing and shooting positions. Hull looked to get Liam Rosenior forward from right full back but in truth he struggled to break in behind the Blackpool defence when he had space to exploit.

As the first half progressed Blackpool controlled the centre of the pitch winning tackles and loose balls to assert their dominance. Elliot Grandin found himself in good forward positions between the Hull defence and midfield but struggled to pick the right pass. Even though Hull worked exceptionally hard in closing down Ferguson, he was well supported by Grandin and Southern as well as the defence providing him with passing options so Blackpool were rarely exposed in midfield.

In forward positions Blackpool weren’t very fluid in their movement, Taylor-Fletcher often staying high and wide and not necessarily backing up Blackpool’s suggested game plan of exposing Joe Dudgeon to the high ball. As the half progressed Taylor-Fletcher went in search of the ball and Blackpool instantly looked more potent around the final third.

Change of ends, change of sides

Even though Hull had chances in the first half, Blackpool held the advantage in the critical centre of the pitch and that remained in the second half. Pearson’s main change in the second period was to swap over Koren and Brady around 58 minutes. Brady continued to look dangerous, but less could be said of Koren. Brady caused trouble for Blackpool all game long and his two footed ability makes him hard to read. His delivery was reasonably good and varied, and will take a shot on even with the most limited opportunity. However, Hull’s strikers lost their composure when they could have scored but they were also let down through a lack of guile in their forward movement which made them predictable at times. When Brady wasn’t creating, their main chances tended to come from some poor organisational and positional play from the Blackpool back line.

Two factors

Even though Blackpool enjoyed a numerical advantage in the centre of the pitch they generally exerted better pressure for two reasons. The use of Baptiste and the introduction of Billy Clarke. Alex Baptiste had a strong game from full back and from the half hour mark added some excellent progressive running to support the attack and occasionally was the furthest man forward. He defended excellently, rarely being beaten and also made a last ditch tackle. He has given Holloway the ideal solution after the last minute debacle over Neal Eardley and his contractual issues and is probably first choice at right back again.

Keith Southern and Barry Ferguson dominated with good passing and link up play with Grandin however only once Billy Clarke came on did Blackpool start to threaten in the final third. Clarke’s movement opened up the forward line and gave Blackpool’s midfielders plenty of options and their forwards better spaces to run in to and it was from his deft flick that Blackpool made their winner.

Moving on

Hull looked dangerous at times and when teams are matched man for man with them they’ll enjoy some great success and if they can generate composure in front of goal then they’ll have a strong season. Blackpool on the other hand will hope to move better in the final third and work their high defensive line with more anticipation and composure. Three points is a most welcome start for Blackpool, but there will be greater challenges ahead.

8 thoughts on “Hull 0 -1 Blackpool – Gaining Control”

  1. More players further back invites the attacking team to pick the route and wastes players in the •wrong• place – wouldnt marking each opponent make more sense?

    1. I’m sorry, I don’t entirely follow your point.

      If you’re suggesting marking up man for man, then that’s quite a wide debate about marking systems.

      Blackpool have consistently struggled to synchronize their offside trap through poor communication and positioning. It suggests that perhaps this set of defensive players really struggle with a high line. It’s not surprising given none of them are particularly quick to accelerate off the mark or on the turn. That won’t matter as much this season as it did last, however, if after a season together it still doesn’t work then perhaps something needs to change. Either cover structures, marking duties or personnel need to change, or they work harder in training as a unit perhaps. The longer the unit can remain in place with Gilks talking to them, the better it will work perhaps.

  2. Do you think that Clarke should be starting ahead of Brett then? You certainly make a good point about the change in options once he came on – or do you think this will be the pattern where Clarke comes on once the defence has been ‘run down’ by Brett?

    1. It wouldn’t surprise me to see Clarke become a starter ahead of Brett as the season progresses, in a lot of ways Clarke is a very similar player to Brett, but with Brett’s pace of ten years ago. I can understand why Brett started. He will be fresh from pre-season, I think of all the forwards he genuinely understands the role and the patterns of play he needs to follow to break down a defence and he still has the poaching instinct. However, for all that, he was being pushed back the other night as Rosenior was pushing high up and when he did get the ball his first touch was a little off.

      You could bring Clarke on when Brett has run them down, or you could bring Brett on when Clarke has run them down. It can work both ways.

      I do suspect that When Matty Phillips returns that there may only be one starting spot up for grabs up front. It’s game on for the rest of them to stake their claim. One thing that Clarke has is his natural left foot. Balance is always nice to have.

  3. I’ve also noticed that lack of organization and communication in the offside trap. Do you think moving the defenders around (like with having Baptiste on the right) will make it more difficult for them to feel comfortable and know when to move forward as a unit? And could it even make it worse?

    1. Not sure. It needs trust from everyone. I think Evatt is the one who commands the line and makes the call. Everyone needs to trust him. However, it requires trust in your own ability as well and perhaps from a confidence point of view Cathcart might struggle with being so young and being asked to play so high up the pitch. For Baptiste, it’s likely that he may not hear the call or get caught watching the ball and man and forgetting his pitch position.

      I think I’m going to put something together over the next few weeks examining the defensive line.

      1. Would be interesting to see that. Unfortunately, only being able to see the highlights of most of the games makes it difficult to see how the defense performs during the entire match. However, from what I have read/seen it seems like playing high up the pitch allows them to possess the ball more since there is really only 3 (and sometimes 2) midfielders actually playing in the midfield to start the attack. That of course leaves them open to through balls.

        Holloway has talked about how important it is to have a goalkeeper that can come out and be comfortable with the ball at his feet, but in my opinion, Gilks doesn’t seem fast enough or willing enough to come out and challenge the forwards that do get through on goal (just play back the Manchester United highlights from last year on loop for about five minutes).

        Even with these weaknesses, a change in formation seems like it would do more harm than good under the attacking style Holloway plays. Any ideas for a change in formation that would let the defense stay back further but not leave the team stretched too thin while on the attack?

        1. There some very good reasons for playing a high defensive line and especially when we try to press the oppostion with our attacking players. It helps to ensure that there are fewer gaps for the opposition to exploit. I think Gilks showed against P’boro that he is more than competent at being alert to the ball over the top or the ball that is played in behind the defence. He made at least 2 one on one stops. I don’t it needs a change in formation. It needs more work. The poor understanding and communication doesn’t help, but neither does playing the offside trap so statically. By that I mean, we push out and call for offside and stop to hold the line. It perhaps needs just a little more dynamism in the defensive movement so as they push out they don’t stop with their hands up. They push out and be better prepared to turn and chase.

          I’ll hopefully pull together an analysis of the Blackpool defensive line in more detail early next month.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *