MATCH REPORT: Blackpool 2 Coventry 0

Mark Cullen
Mark Cullen

On the field, managerless Blackpool recorded their first League One win of the season against promoted Coventry.

Off it, the search continues for a permanent replacement for Gary Bowyer, the man many would consider irreplaceable after the work he did at Bloomfield Road.
But his assistant Terry McPhillips is taking care of business as interim boss, making seven changes from the side which had played out a goalless draw at Shrewsbury.
With just one goal to show for their first three league games, McPhillips gave Mark Cullen a spot in the starting line-up and he was once again to show his clinical touch.
Donervon Daniels, Joe Dodoo, Michael Nottingham, Harry Pritchard, Jordan Thompson and Marc Bola all came into the starting side, with Ben Heneghan, Paudie O’Connor, John O’Sullivan, Joe Bunney and Nathan Delfouneso all dropping down to the bench, while Armand Gnanduillet and Chris Taylor missed out completely as McPhillips opted for a classic 4-4-2.
The travelling Coventry fans brought the noise but there was little to shout about in the first half.
An early injury to the visitors’ Maxime Biamou caused such concern that a stretcher was brought on to the pitch.
The forward was able to limp off, though his night’s work was over and Amadou Bakayoko replaced him in only the third minute.
Dodoo showed Blackpool’s hopes in League One were not as dead as his near namesake, wriggling through for an early chance.
Coventry showed some bite, Luke Thomas’ effort dealt with by the Seasiders.
Last term League One was all about set-pieces and it seems this season may well be no different.
Blackpool looked a threat in what was otherwise a lacklustre opening 45 from both sides.
Harry Pritchard and Curtis Tilt had half-chances from free-kicks or corners but it was Jay Spearing who nearly stuck made the breakthrough
The midfielder stung the palms of Laim O’Brien with a fierce effort from outside the box after picking up the loose ball. That woke the visitors up, Luke Thomas firing over.
But Blackpool had the final say of the half, Dodoo and then Thompson with efforts, the first blocked and the second wide of the post.
The blank scoresheet was fair at half-time, though Blackpool had the majority of the chances.
They lacked that clinical touch until the man who fired them back to League One 15 months ago had his say.
Cullen pounced on Ollie Turton’s looping ball into the box, using his poaching instincts to outfox O’Brien, beating the keeper in the 48th minute.
Still it was lacklustre from the Seasiders, another influx of summer signings trying to gel, though without the glue that had held the club together, Bowyer.
Many of this class of 2018/19 arrived at Bloomfield Road expecting to be guided under his leadership and this was clearly a side still finding its feet and facing the unknown.
The match was mediocre, the seagulls flying in from the shore providing a distraction.
Donervon Daniels made the feathered friends fly with a bullet header from a Jordan Thompson centre that should have wrapped this game up.
There was plenty of endeavour, grit and a spark on set-pieces.
Cullen was a positive, Dodoo too a threat, though you could not help but think victory owed a lot to a Coventry side that still seems stuck in League Two - boos from their own fans at the final whistle were evidence of their feelings.
The visitors tried a fight back. Ex-Fleetwood loanee Jordy Hiwula came off the bench and had big shout for a penalty that woke the City fans up and spurred a mini-resurgence.
But the one thing you can say about this Blackpool side is that they are stubborn and tough to break down.
This was their third clean sheet in four, with Tilt as ever a talismanic figure at the back.
And as soon as a fightback was threatened it was killed off by Dodoo with 10 minutes remaining.
The Rangers loanee pounced and sweetly lofted the ball into the net.
In the remaining moments, the Seasiders still looked strong on the counter as Coventry looked ready to head back down the M6.
For Blackpool, positive signs of the fight and life still in this squad after Bowyer’s exit.
Certainly there is the nucleus of a squad capable of keeping its head above water at this level, a spine of Tilt, Spearing and Cullen that many clubs in this division would not mind having.
But then again, the clouds are never far from this sea...

Blackpool: Howard, Nottingham, Daniels (O'Connor, 90), Tilt, Bola, Spearing, Thompson, Turton, Dodoo, Cullen (Delfouneso, 72), Pritchard (O'Sullivan, 90). Subs not used: Heneghan, Sinclair-Smith, Mafoumbi, Bunney.

Coventry: O'Brien, Willis, Hyam, Ogogo, Sterling, Shipley (Andreu, 75), Doyle, Bayliss, Brown, Biamou (Bakayoko, 3, Hiwula, 71). Thomas. Subs not used: Burge, Grimmer, Mason, Thompson.