Date: 22nd October 2008 at 2:27pm
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There are always some comparisons you can draw from at Football. After the debacle at Burnley last month, I travelled to Birmingham City expecting absolutely nothing. Wrong. After the woeful performance at Doncaster on Saturday, I’ll be honest with you; I thought Pool would really struggle at home to a rejuvenated Derby County side. Well, the men in tangerine have a welcome habit of following up a poor showing with a good one, and that is exactly how it went on Tuesday night in a 3-2 thriller.

Steve Kabba was missing from The Seasiders starting line up with an ankle injury (or perhaps his omission from the squad was more to do with not being able to play two games in a few days?) so Alan Gow was given his first start of the season alongside Ben Burgess up front. The only other change – with Larry sticking to his prove yourself theory – was another enforced one with the ineligible Mo Camara making way for Danny Coid at left back.

Blackpool (4-4-2):
Barker – Edwards © – Evatt – Camara
GTF – Southern – Jorgensen – Vaughan
Burgess – Gow

Derby had a host of big name players in their starting line up, and welcomed back winger Kris Commons.

Derby County (4-4-2):
Connelly – Davis – Leacock – Stewart
Barazite – Addison – Green – Commons
Hulse – Ellington

Pool, kicking towards the empty (work-eventually-beginning) South Stand started the game poorly, and couldn`t get to grips with The Rams’ movement off the ball. Paul Green, a summer signing from Doncaster Rovers, was being allowed to pick the ball up off his back four without much challenge and dictate play. This led to an early opening for Rob Hulse, who swept an inviting chance wide after a good low cross from Commons.

However, after the original dictation of play by the visitors, Blackpool began to stamp authority on the game. Claus Jorgensen and Keith Southern both got to grips with Green in the midfield and looked to pounce on him quickly when receiving the ball, which nullified the threat more often than not. One occasion Barazite was allowed to cut in from the right, but his shot ballooned over the bar into the Kop.

The game had a certain ebb and flow to it, without there being a plethora of chances for either side, but Pool did look dangerous with both Vaughan and GTF stretching the away defence to good effect. Alan Gow was making intelligent arcing runs behind Burgess, which meant bringing the midfield into play more than we have seen in recent weeks.

And it was Gow who nearly set up the opening goal for The Seasiders. He received the ball wide on the left from Keith Southern, ran at his fullback and planted a ball for Taylor-Fletcher to run on to, but unfortunately for the winger his shot flew wide.

This move was a sign of things to come however, and moments later on 35 minutes, the opening goal came, and it was the aforementioned Pool attackers who were involved. First Gary Taylor-Fletcher showed great tenacity to not shirk the challenge of big defender Claude Davis, and his tackle cum through ball found Alan Gow who slotted home past Bywater into the right hand corner of the net to give Pool the lead.

This totally rocked Paul Jewell’s luminous yellow (ridiculous kit!) team and a second home goal followed just eight minutes later. This was a beautiful goal. The ball was played up to Ben Burgess whose knock down to Gow was then cleverly flicked on by the on loan Rangers man to Gary Taylor-Fletcher who raced into the box and fired crisply into the bottom corner.

A fantastic first half for The Seasiders – but not so for referee Andrew Hall. He was booed off by the west stand at the break after 45 minutes of continuingly penalising the Blackpool defenders for climbing over Hulse and Ellington, somewhat unfairly most of the time.

Still, at 2-0 I think most inside Bloomfield Road – which was sparsely populated with just over 7000 in – were expecting an onslaught by County to open the second period. But in fact it was that man Gow again who nearly added a third. His daisy cutter from 18 yards clipped the base of the right hand post and went wide just a minute after the restart.

That onslaught did come from Derby. Shortly after that near miss from Gow, Pool found it difficult to get out of their half for a spell, which culminated in an expertly taken Kris Commons freekick from 25 yards which despite getting a hand to it, Rachubka couldn’t keep out. 2-1 after 58 minutes – did you fear the worst?

Well, you needn’t have. This forced Blackpool to press higher up the pitch and still take the game to Derby. GTF was a fantastic outlet on the right as always, with Shaun Barker making great overlapping runs. But it was on the left hand side from where the third goal came. On 65 minutes, Alan Gow slipped in Keith Southern down the left and his cross across the box found an onrushing Ben Burgess who stabbed home what was to be the winner, sending the Kop into obvious birdman heaven!

The third goal finally dampened the spirits of a very credible away following from Derby. Their 1,200 away gate were by far the loudest away fans to come to Blackpool so far this season which, given the awful conditions, was a very good effort!

The Seasiders from then on in didn’t really create that many other chances. We had several corners and a few over-hit freekicks (one from subsitute Adam Hammill was really poor) but nothing really to trouble Stephen Bywater.

And The Rams found another way back into the game when Paul Rachubka and Danny Coid got their wires crossed (understatement of the year, I realise). A long hopefully ball was punted forward by Jordon Stewart reaked havoc in the defence with Coidy allowing the ball to bounce, Rabs rushing out for a ball he was never going to reach, both leaving it in the end to eachother, and Sterjovski stole in and found the empty net with just 13 minutes left.

Danny Coid did actually have a really good game up until and after that point. He did his job well, with no frills to the performance. I’d like to see him play on Saturday ahead of Camara, and if the manager sticks to his possession of the shirt theory, Danny should be in the team.

There was however to be a large chunk of additional time as in the run up to the third goal David Vaughan made a crunching clean tackle on Barazite right in front of the two benches which left the winger needing lengthy treatment before the match could kick off again after Burgess’ goal. This enraged Paul Jewell, with the usual finger wagging and red face, but it was one decision that Mr Hall did get right.

Finally, Derby although having plenty of the ball in the last ten minutes, rarely created an opportunity and it was in the end a well deserved win for Simon Grayson’s team. Joe Martin, who replaced Vaughan on 81 minutes, had a chance to seal the win with moments remaining but he chose to shoot when he might have squared it to Southern.

The only downer on the game was an injury to GTF in the final seconds, but hopefully he will be fit for Crystal Palace on Saturday. A win could see us rise and rise to the top six!