Blackpool loss hides signs of steady progress

Despite a 2-0 opening day loss to Nottingham Forest, there are positive signs for the Blackpool faithful.

A turbulent summer has seen Blackpool on the cusp of destruction. Despite officially owning a low of just six first-team players just a few weeks prior to the start of the season, head coach Jose Riga managed to compile a team of 15 players for the opening day of the season - including two 17-year old scholars.

With the Seasiders' off-pitch trouble, a defeat to promotion contenders Nottingham Forest could be foreign, especially when all the signs in the match pointed to serious signs of progress.

Despite Riga able to name just two players who appeared at Bloomfield Road last season, the host of debutants did not shirk away from their duties - winning 19 tackles as they went toe-to-toe with their opponents.

A deep-lying defensive formation secured the Tangerines' a 50% share of the possession, and it was only a weakness in the attacking third that meant that Blackpool failed to score - despite registering seven shots, just one was on target.

Forest kicked off their campaign with two strikes of the highest quality, but, despite their two first-half goals, they could not build on their performance as Blackpool tried with all their might to retain their dignity.

The two-times European Champions completed just 17 more passes than their division rivals, and many would have though that Stuart Pearce's men should have netted more than twice.

Along with Michail Antonio and Chris Burke's goals, Forest could register just one further shot on target, favouring strikes from long distance. Having limited Forest to no shots inside the six-yard box, Riga has clearly outlined a strong defence as the key to Championship survival, and Saturday's performance hinted at major improvements in that area of the game.

With a selection of other results going their way - including Huddersfield's 4-0 defeat to Bournemouth - Blackpool finish the first weekend of Championship action outside the relegation spots.

Whilst they still remain one of the favourites to go down, if performances can grow on the one displayed yesterday, they will surely secure their survival by the close of the season.

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