Blackpool v Morecambe: battling the tide

Lee Molyneux impressing –

These teams last met in the second week of the season at the Globe. Pre-match, Gary Bowyer was given a positive reception from the away fans and after two wins in league and cup, his side went 1-0 ahead in a strong first half. One wondered if maybe, just maybe, this could be the start of a rebuilding process at Blackpool.

Grim reality returned in the second half. Blackpool lost 2-1 due to a man-of-the-match performance from Morecambe’s Tom Barkhuizen, who ironically played briefly as a wing-back during the Seasiders’ relegation from the Championship. The versatile forward has since left for Preston, highlighting the financial problems Morecambe face with cash flow problems and off-field uncertainty delaying payments of player wages

Barkhuizen departed in October, but November saw a shock 2-1 win over high-flying Plymouth. That victory was Morecambe’s first in seven from 15 games, a run that has extended their gap to the relegation zone from two points to 17, survival as good as guaranteed.

It has been a remarkable show of spirit from the whole club and as a neutral, it is hard not to feel pleased for Jim Bentley. The manager has been particularly praising of fellow-Scouser Lee Molyneux, who scored the equalizer at Portsmouth last time out.

Morecambe had to dig deep to get the point, which did not come without a few slices of luck. However, centre-backs Ryan Edwards and Alex Whitmore made some last-ditch blocks and Barry Roche was impressive between the sticks.

By contrast, Blackpool are often the ones dominating shot statistics but unable to capitalize. They came back from two goals down on Tuesday to draw 2-2 with Barnet, Kyle Vassell saving his 12th goal of the campaign for an injury-time level. The previous two games had seen the Tangerines draw 2-2 by throwing away a two goal lead, causing Bowyer to question the mentality of his players. The former Blackburn boss says there is a need for more strong characters in the team who are unafraid to place demands on one another.

Blackpool need leaders on the field – but not as much as both clubs need leaders off it.

The Football Lab’s Verdict: 1-2
Betting tip: Morecambe draw no bet 9/4