Things are just getting better! Blackpool kept their unbeaten run going at home to Bradford City with a comfortable 4-1 win in front of almost eight thousand fans at Bloomfield Road on a cold October afternoon. “Latvia Day” couldn`t really have gone much better!
The Seasiders started on the front foot attacking the moss heap that is the South, with early chances for Ian Evatt – who blazed over on the half volley after neat build up play from a set piece, and Keigan Parker, who again skewed his volley over the top in much the same fashion as the big centre back.
The ‘pool were then pegged back a little for a quarter of an hour, with the visitors finding their feet and playing like the home team, keeping the ball and working openings. The Blackpool side didn`t quite know how to deal with Dean Windass as he dropped off the front man picking the ball from deep and dictating play. This was worrying for the home fans, especially as the veteran striker was buying free kicks in and around the box, leading to unnecessary pressure. One of these free kicks led to City`s big chance, where former Oldham man, Mark Bower head over the bar.
The tide soon turned however, with the best move of the match. ‘Pool came out of defence, and the ball found its way to Wes Hoolahan, who in turn kept the ball moving to Andy Morrell. This was followed by sublime skill by the front man, flicking the ball with his right foot back inside himself to the on rushing Hoolahan whilst under pressure from behind. The flying winger, on loan from Livingston, then picked out Keigan Parker who slotted home what the crowd though was the opening goal, only for the linesman at the near side to rule out the strike due to offside.
A couple of minutes after that, the lively Scotsman thought he`d won his side a penalty when his cross was handled in the box – only for the referee, Mr Shoebridge to turn down the appeal. This clearly frustrated Parker, because straight away he flew into Bradford`s winger, Lee Holmes – and collected a deserved booking.
The home crowd looked disgruntled for a few moments until ‘pool finally broke the deadlock. Wes Hoolahan, my man of the match once again threaded a fine ball into the area for Andy Morrell to collect and lay off to Parker whose shot hit David Fox on the way towards goal and the cultural centre midfielder managed to guide the ball into the corner, out of the keepers reach.
Things went from bad to worse for the visitors when they conceded a penalty with minutes to go until half time. Blackpool could have had three penalties within seconds of each other in all honesty, and finally Mr Shoebridge blew for a spot kick after some fairly comical defending. Wes Hoolahan, who returned to penalty duties, sent Donovan Ricketts the wrong way and put The Seasiders 2-0 to the good.
Half Time – Blackpool 2 – 0 Bradford City
At the start of the second half there was only one team in it, as Blackpool pressed for a third which would kill the game off as a contest. David Fox had a rasping drive which flew over the bar. However, despite a period of home team dominance, The Bantams hit back, and almost scored themselves when Dean Windass` flick header brought out the best of Rhys Evans who turned the ball around the post.
Wes Hoolahan also saw a long range effort saved.
Then the game was sealed. Poetry in motion. Ireland have a left winger who is world class in Damian Duff, but our very own Irish flying winger could very well be making the right noises for a call up to the national squad. Wes “Take A Bow Son” Hoolahan flicked the ball over a Bradford City head on the touchline running alongside the west, ran past him to retrieve it, before exchanging passes with Andy Morrell and then setting up Keigan Parker with a wonderful creative slotted through pass, with the Scot obliging to score ‘pools third of the game after 64 minutes.
That lead was stretched further after 71, when Parker added his second. Another fantastic ball through by Wes Hoolahan found the striker, who rounded the onrushing Ricketts, and placed the ball into the unguarded net.
Adrian Forbes and Wes Hoolahan both received standing ovations from the stands as they were replaced by Claus Jorgensen and Rory Prendergast respectively.
The Bantams then scored a consolation through Jermaine Johnson whose shot through a wall of bodies left Evans no chance.
Matty Blinkhorn replaced Keigan Parker.
The visitors` misery was compiled when Joe Brown kicked out at Blackpool captain Michael Jackson off the ball, leading to a straight red. Why do we see moments of stupidity like this on a regular basis now? Footballers must be getting thicker.
For the second game running, Simon Graysons men played for the full 90 minutes, something we aren`t used to at, dare I say it for the future – Fortress Bloomfield?
Rhys Evans – 7
Nothing to do really. Looked confident today.
Shaun Barker – 8
Fantastic. Right Back is his home whilst Jacko is playing well, and he’s making full use of his time there.
Carl Dickinson – 8
This lad is brilliant! Heart’s in the right place, and not a bad player either!
Ian Evatt – 8
I really hope we don’t lose him in January. Man mountain.
Michael Jackson – 7
Good game from him today. Has improved greatly of late.
Adrian Forbes – 7
Indifferent game today, but not bad aftre his long lay off.
David Fox – 8
Best game I’ve seen him play. Looked a good creative prospect today.
Keith Southern – 8
Why do we need to drop him? The lad is fantastic! Blackpool wouldn’t be Blackpool without Keith Southern’s crunching tackles! Marc Bridge-Wilkinson had to have treatment after one of his tackles (and it was a fair one too!).
Andy Morrell – 8
Linked up excellently with Hoolahan. Had a hand in three of the goals, plus the dissallowed one.
Keigan Parker – 8
General play was poor, but who can argue with two goals?
Simon Grayson – I may have been wrong about him. He’s applying the right ethics in the tactics, and we are winning, so I’m not complaning!
Shots on target 10
Shots off target 7
Shots off bar/post 0
Shots on target 6
Shots off target 5
Shots off bar/post 0
Five games unbeaten. Three points away from the playoffs. Flowing, attacking football, and a sturdy defence. What was I talking about a month ago? Asking if Grayson was up to the job!? Of course, we haven`t turned the corner just yet, but we`re a good way around it now. The playoffs are in site.
We played in burgundy on Saturday, or maroon – whatever you like, but we played football like we should have been in tangerine as some of the stuff that was being played was like that of Holland`s total football years in our club colours!
Wes Hoolahan is an absolute gem. Tricky, with an end product, something we aren`t used to at Bloomfield Road. The fact he was involved in all four goals, plus the disallowed one, just goes to show how instrumental he was. The link up play with Morrell especially was very good.
Carl Dickinson once again had a fabulous game, both going forward and defending. The centre halves look at ease with each other, and Evans in goal is looking more confident each game. Barker, as always, was fantastic.
Southern had a steady game, and did what he does best. I cannot understand people who would prefer Bean in the team. Keith Southern is Blackpool through and through, and has shown the past few weeks what a good player he is. David Fox also had a better game, and after his goal he looked a different player.
The crowd was fantastic. Eight thousand near enough, which is brilliant for the football club. Just shows a sniff of success gets the “stay aways” back in their droves. Credit to them for coming back, and hopefully they`re here to stay.