Well, I say stroll! More like flirting with falling over it actually! A less than convincing performance by The Seasiders saw Aldershot Town knock two goals past Rhys Evans at Bloomfield Road. Luckily for Blackpool, the home side managed to score four times to secure a place in the 4th round and a possible money spinning tie against one of the “big boys”.
The whole day had an air of complacency around it I felt. Pre match predictions were more like cricket scores, supporters were laughing and joking about the opposition and people just generally looked too calm. Inside I had a suspicion that BFC might come unstuck, with not so fond memories of Yeovil Town flooding back.
Simon Grayson was again without Keigan Parker who was suspended. Added to that were injuries to starlet Wes Hoolahan along with a troublesome thigh for Claus Jorgensen. This saw Gareth Farrelly start his first game in a tangerine shirt. Latvian international, Kaspars Gorkss was named as a substitute.
Shaun Barker – Ian Evatt – Michael Jackson – Paul Tierney
Adrian Forbes – David Fox – Keith Southern – Gareth Farrelly
Scott Vernon – Andy Morrell
The game begun at a frantic pace, with Town pressing hard in the opening stages, as they forced two corners. Some intricate build up play involving veteran, Marcus Gayle lead to a freekick thirty yards out which was taken by skipper Lee Barnard only for Blackpool to clear their lines. A few nervy moments in the first few minutes, and Michael Jackson was seen rallying his troops as some looked shell-shocked at Town`s start.
Despite dominating proceedings, Aldershot were undone with Pool`s first attack, on four minutes, as Andy Morrell won his header, flicking onto Scott Vernon and the front man confidently took a few touches before sticking the ball past Town`s keeper with the outside of his right foot and somewhat increasing the complacency level inside Bloomers!
The lead was doubled three minutes later when the front two combined once again with Vernon supplying a fabulous cross for Morrell whose glancing header evaded Bull in the Aldershot goal to make the game seemingly safe at 2-0 (well, were they ever going to come back from two down?).
As Blackpool piled on heavy pressure, Ian Evatt saw a header from a David Fox freekick (your eyes aren`t playing tricks with you, that really did say a David Fox dead ball found a tangerine shirt!) plant itself into Bull`s hands.
Shortly after Evatt`s header, another freekick posed a problem for Town. Scott Vernon was fouled on the edge of the box. Being so close to goal, someone had to just hit through the ball and hope it might fly in. Obviously Fox isn`t the man for that, so up stepped debutant Farrelly whose rasping drive was hit straight at Bull in goal, only for him to spill the ferocious shot, and a defender to mop up and clear for a corner.
The first twenty or so minutes should have really seen The Seasiders four to the good.
On their first attack for sometime, Aldershot scored. Sloppy defending all round really. Morrell and Vernon (the later coming in for some heavy stick from the visiting support as they thought he dived for a freekick earlier on in the game) were lazy up front and didn`t close down to their normal high standard. This allowed the defence to come out with the ball, and create extra room. Keith Southern and David Fox were anonymous in midfield as the football passed them by. This left Evatt and Jackson who were easily bypassed and Molseley`s tasty strike was well parried by Evans, only for no Pool shirt to be following in and allowing John Grant to score a tap in.
Nikki Bull pulled off some great saves in the opening period, but none more spectacular than his tipping over the bar of Scott Vernon`s curling shot.
The former Oldham striker, Vernon, missed a guilt edge chance soon after, when he pounced on a good ball only for him to hit the keeper Bull from seven yards with the Town stopper on the ground.
A very entertaining came to an end with the score standing at: Blackpool 2 – 1 Aldershot Town
Early efforts in the first half from Marcus Gayle and Gareth Farrelly ultimately came to nothing, although Gayle`s header was a shocking miss as he managed to scoop the ball well over the crossbar unmarked.
Rhys Evans again was called upon as Aldershot`s experienced striker Marcus Gayle showed his know-how as his flick was heading goalwards, only for Evans to tip wide.
The Blackpool left hand side of Tierney (someone remind me why he`s playing for Blackpool?) and Farrelly (erm, same question!) was being ripped to pieces by the magnificent Ryan Williams. Well, to be fair to him, he`s played league football before. The tricky winger has attracted transfer fees throughout his career and played a key role in Hulls rise a few years back. Tranmere Rovers paid 70K for his services, along with Cheaterfield spending 85K on him, and finally Hull splashing out 150K to secure his signature. The lad has obviously done alright for himself, and at five foot defenders find it easy to put him in their back pockets?.literally. However, it`s a different kettle of fish when on the football pitch, as we found out when he made Tierney look woeful at best. Needless to say, both Farrelly and Tierney were hauled off early in the second half and were replaced by Ben Burgess and Kaspars Gorkss. The ghost receiving a fantastic warm welcome from the ground in the west stand.
Despite the changes, Marcus Gayle was again causing problems and Evans produced a great save again from him as the former Wimbledon dropped off the centre backs.
The whole of A block were up on their feet throughout the second half, as a ballboy was attracting their attention as he sung along to chants and danced for the adoring fans. The only thing missing from his circus act was a cage for him to dance in! The whole Kop were bouncing however, as the bellboy lifted the atmosphere and sparked chants such as “ballboy for England!” and “we love you ballboy, we do!”
Andy Morrell and Ian Evatt were unlucky not to add to the scoreline.
On 72 minutes, big Ben Burgess was put clean through and it looked like he would notch up his first goal in tangerine, only for Bull to brilliantly parry his shot. This then fell to Andy Morrell who also had a shot blocked, only for the ball to rebound back to him and be chipped in the net. Glad all over was sung with meaning.
Ben Burgess did finally score his first Blackpool goal, as his spot kick sent Nikki Bull the wrong way and put Pool 4-2 to the good. The ineffective Fox was taken off for Marcus Bean who played the remainder of the game very well indeed.
The visiting team scored with two minutes remaining, much to the delight of their marvelous support when Mark Pritchard stroked the ball in from close range. Another poor goal to give away. He also missed a one on one in the final minute.
The referee (who had a good game, although some Town fans may disagree, as chants of “4-1 to the referee” could be heard earlier in the game) blew for full time and Blackpool progress through to the 4th round for the first time for 17 years.