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Sadly the New Year failed to see the arrival of a number of Pickford's Removal Vans outside Bloomfield Road and so we head in to 2017 with the Oyston family still in charge of BFC. However the start of January handily conincides with midway point of the season and so, ahead of the arrival of Mansfield, a good time to assess the football team rather than the club. 23 games played 9 wins, 7 draws and 7 defeats and progress to the third round of the FA and EFL Cups. Following the goalless draw at Grimsby, the Seasiders find themselves a point outside the Play Offs and with a healthy goal difference. The last couple of months has established Gary Bowyer's side as top 7 contenders even if the top three still seems a distant hope.
The negativity, uncertainty and pessimism of the last three seasons even managed to poison the start of this campaign with Blackpool not really sparking in to life until the 4-2 win against Doncaster. Since then they have won 6, drawn 2 and lost 2 of their 10 league games, which would usually be promotion winning form, whilst the team enjoyed four victories (albeit some on penalties) in the various cup competitions. Other than for the last minute defeat to Mansfield and the poor display against Luton, Bowyer's side have come through the last few months fairly unscathed, however such was their starting point they have yet to really establish themselves in the play off places. Ironically, they seem to have chosen the wrong season to be in League Two with half a dozen sides more than capable of winning promotion. At this stage, the Seasiders manager would happily take a place in the Play Offs and take his chance in the end of season lottery.
With the fixtures throwing up some bemusing sequences of games, Blackpool only played 10 of their home games in the first half of the season and 13 of their away matches. It effectively means they have three matches at Bloomfield Road to make inroads in to that top 7 starting with Mansfield.Up to the Luton game, Bloomfield Road seemed fairly impenetrable however this is a side who have shown they can have a bad day at the office and actually their performances at home of late have failed to be convincing even if they've recorded some decent results. Bowyer seems to have got a few injuries and started moving players around at the wrong time as a settled side seems to be one that pays dividends. The manager still seems unable to choose the best option alongside Vassell, has been tinkering around with the right side of midfield and maybe it's credit to the settled defence, that whilst the strikers have fired blanks, they have kept three out of six clean sheets including the last two games. The defeat to Mansfield at Field Mill still sticks in the craw, like a number of results this season, Steve Evans has been quick to act in the transfer window bringing in Northampton midfielder Joel Byrom, goalkeeper Jake Kean and Sheffield United midfielder Ben Whiteman.
Whilst the outcome of the Oyston v Belokon case in mid-February is the result the majority of Blackpool fans want, for the meantime the bread and butter of league football continues. With Portsmouth facing Luton on Monday, there's chance to make grounds on one of the teams above them but Mansfield is a tough test for the Seasiders and, with an FA Cup game on Saturday, it's one they could do with winning to keep in touch with the chasing pack.
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