I remember this feeling; the unsurprising disappointment of an away defeat. Also unsurprising is that we couldn't break the Bloomfield Road hoodoo, meaning that we are now 11 games without a win there, taking us back to 1977, where Wanderers won 2-0. What is uncharacteristic of this defeat is that we dominated proceedings for vast periods of the game, and should be talking about a first away win in 26 attempts. But we're not, and I'm not quite sure how.
Wanderers made six changes from this weekend's defeat of Sheffield United, with Amos, Derik, Proctor, Trotter, Walker and Finney all making their first appearances of the season. For the Tangerines, Tom Aldred must have been disappointed not to start against his boyhood club. Beyond that, the only recognisable name on the Blackpool team sheet was Jamille Matt, who played at Wembley this summer for this temporary employers Plymouth Argyle in the League Two play-off final.
Wanderers started the game well, dictating play through Derik in the holding midfield role, with full backs Moxey and Wilson finding plenty of space. Liam Trotter and Mark Davies linked up well in midfield, as Walker and Taylor searched for openings on the wings. Blackpool did not look like a team who had won at the weekend, hacking away clearances which either found touch, Ben Amos or entered Mark Beevers' possession zone of no return. This was my first time seeing Beevers, and so far he looks the best of Parky's signings.
Saying that, the first half was something of a damp squib. Derik was taken off after 26 minutes. The club's Twitter account claimed he was "forced off", but Derik's reaction on the sidelines suggests a player who did not want his evening to end early. He was replaced by Josh Vela. Mark Davies fires over the bar, Mark Beevers had a header cleared off the line, and Finney hit the woodwork for the first of two occasions in the game.
Also of note in the first half was our away following. Wanderers brought 2,200 fans to the Stan Mortensen End, finally being moved from the temporary stand, though it's nice to see that Blackpool have put some proper seats in it this year. The fans were excellent, bar a few "baby goon squad" members, who decided to bastardise a Wigan song in Zach Clough's and set off flares at 0-0 (one of them red, because why not, eh?). On the plus side, they did look fetching in their caps, Stone Island hoodies and red leather jackets borrowed from their grandad.
On the stroke of half time, a measured cross from Liam Trotter was emphatically met by Jamie Proctor, who headed into the back of the net on the stroke of half time. He looked offside to me, and Proctor also had a good, long look across his line to the linesman before wheeling off to celebrate. As it was, Wanderers went in at the break 1-0.
Wanderers started the second half brightly; Trotter should have had a penalty awarded for handball, Mark Davies cut ribbons through the Blackpool back four before deciding to pass across goal rather than shoot, which came to nothing. It encapsulates Davies' career in that he has always needed to be that little bit greedier in the box. One thing was clear: there are shades of the Premier League Mark Davies left, only shades. He was far too good for a game of this size and quality, yet he still failed to take the game by the scruff of the neck as he could. Lawrie Wilson saw plenty of the ball going forward, putting in some dangerous crosses for Jamie Proctor.
Proctor was substituted after 62 minutes and replaced by Gary Madine. Proctor was impressive, leading the line well and bringing the midfield into attacking situations. What we saw from Madine in the following hour is that Parky has found himself a better target man; Madine did not have the same impact after coming on. Saying that, he did not deserve to be called a "f***ing waste of air" by one irate fan immediately behind the goal when a Madine header went over the bar in the 116th minute. About ten yards or so away from Madine, he's both braver and more stupid than me to behave like that.
Just when Wanderers were dominating, Blackpool found themselves level, with right back Kelvin Mellor meeting a speculative left wing cross with a fantastic finish past Ben Amos at the back post. Things got worse five minutes later, when Brad Potts bundled home from a corner. Within 5 minutes, Blackpool had undone the work Wanderers had done in 74.
Wanderers redoubled their efforts, Alex Finney hitting the post from a Chris Taylor corner with 9 minutes to go. Wilson and Moxey still found plenty of space to get forward, but the closest they came to bearing fruit was when a Blackpool defender headed over his own bar. However, Bolton fans were sent into delirium in the 92nd minute, when Kaiyne Woolery, on as Wanderers' final substitute for Tom Walker, latched onto a hopeful Wilson long ball, rounded the 'keeper, and calmly slotted home. Cue the celebrations, for which Woolery was booked for going into the crowd. One Wanderers fan was injured in the celebrations, and left the ground on a stretcher. I hope he's ok, though we've had no update on his situation yet.
And so, extra time beckoned. Some Wanderers fans left, particularly those with younger children with them (unfortunately not baby goon squad) or those who had a train to catch (see parentheses above). What was most striking was the change in atmosphere; the Wanderers fans, who had been so vocal through the 90 minutes, went quiet. The songs ended, even the godawful "I want to go home", which was sometimes ironically, though not intentionally, followed up by a song that begins "don't take me home". Baby goon squad, if you're listening, we're Bolton Wanderers. We have our own songs. Learn them. Sing them. And for God's sake get a haircut. Christ, I'm getting old.
Little happened in the first period of extra time, save a Chris Taylor injury that he recovered from to complete the 120 minutes. Both teams looked knackered. In the second half, Blackpool found a breakthrough. Vela and Trotter pressed the same man, who squeezed a through ball behind Beevers. Amos came out, the ball was cut back, and Jim McCallister scored the easiest goal he's ever going to get. As Wanderers pressed for an equaliser, Blackpool hit the Whites on the counter, Josh Herron with a lovely chip into the top corner past Amos. The game was over as a contest, and many Wanderers fan began to leave.
It got that bad that we could even hear the Blackpool fans, scattered across one stand, the other two empty. Now I know they're a small club, and they have a dispute with their current ownership, but it's a terrible state of affairs. The official attendance was 3,633 (2,200 away fans). Not to be pedantic, but no way were there 1,400 home fans in attendance. I'd love to know where the club's numbers have come from.
In summary, we played relatively well for three quarters of a game, didn't put our chances away, and were beaten by a far worse side than ours. Parky has made some positive changes in the way we play, Beevers and Proctor look like useful additions (though I'm not sure about Chris Taylor yet), and we displayed some resilience to get back in the game at 2-2. But the same issues resonate through the squad; we're losers, and that's not a habit you just snap out of. Anyway, see you at Wimbledon.