2007 – The best year in Blackpool’s modern day history; what does 2008 have in store for The Seasiders after a scintillating display at home to local rivals Burnley, running out – with ease – three nil winners?
I awoke at half past eleven, and much like many Blackpool fans across FY8 I’m sure, even with a heavy head, jumped up out of bed ready for the game in sheer excitement and anticipation which is exactly the spirit that the players seemed to take on the pitch as well, with the eleven men and the crowd completely united in a rocking Bloomfield Road, in front of 9500 fans, 1800 of which coming from East Lancashire (or is it West Yorkshire nowadays?) and who were extremely quiet all afternoon.
Barker – Jackson © – Gorkss – Crainey
GTF – Jorgensen – Flynn – Hoolahan
Burgess – Vernon
Alexander (spit!) – Caldwell – Unsworth – Harley
Elliot – O`Connor – McCann – Lafferty
Gray – Blake
From the very opening minute, Simon Grayson’s men looked in complete control, and from number one to sixteen they did the fantastic fans of Bloomfield Road proud as they blew a very good (well, on paper) Burnley side away with high tempo Football – similar to what brought about the perfect ten wins at the end of last season – something we hadn’t witnessed this season until now.
Maybe at the very beginning of the game we played at a too high tempo, as after five minutes of huff and puff type play, The Clarets began to bring the ball down and play themselves, with Chris McCann in midfield spraying the ball about really well, but his intelligent thinking wasn’t matched by the wide players who failed to capitalise on decent positions that had been created.
However, the game swung again soon after, and a spell of pressure by The Tangerines (which culminated in three or four fabulous chances) preceded the opening goal. A corner was won, with Hoolahan to take, left footed. Big Kaspars Gorkss had peeled away from his man, and just as the corner seemed to be drifting away from him, he cranked his neck and diverted his header right into the opposite corner, past Kiraly’s despairing sixth finger, and into the net to give Blackpool a deserved one nil lead, midway through the first half.
It is twelve months ago on Sunday when Kaspars put on the tangerine shirt for the first time in a 4-2 FA Cup victory over Aldershot. Playing at left back, you could see then that the guy clearly knew what he was doing – he was no mug then, and certainly isn’t now! Last year, his distribution didn’t look great for me, but someone has clearly worked on that with him, because his carrying of the ball out of the defence and release of the football is magnificent now, and the stature that he has grown in at Bloomfield Road is testament to him and the management.
The goal clearly shook The Clarets up. Chris McCann in midfield was becoming very agitated, as a reckless challenge on Taylor Fletcher earned him a booking, following Kyle ‘I’m worth millions…honest’ Lafferty’s lead, whose foul count was ever growing, with Andre Marriner showing him a yellow minutes before.
Burnley, who are usually so good away from home at keeping the ball, looked in disarray – even more so when skipper David Unsworth had to be replaced at centre half by left back Simon Jordon, who from then on didn’t look at all comfortable.
Shortly after the half hour mark, Claus Jorgensen almost, albeit fortuitously, extended the ‘Pool lead as his shot was deflected but didn’t wrong foot the erratic Kiraly enough to spin past him into the net.
Burnley did have a decent chance to equalise just before the break when Robbie Blake tamely hit the wall from 20 yards with a freekick, and another set play was wasted moments later also.
At the break, Blackpool 1 – 0 Burnley.
I believe that The Seasiders won this game in the first fifteen minutes of the second period. The tactics were clearly to keep it tight to start with, and not to give anything away, and to frustrate The Clarets. The plan was executed to perfection. Admittedly, Larry’s side didn’t create anything first up in the second half, but neither did Owen Coyle’s team; this prompted a change by the Scot, hauling the slow and ageing Robbie Blake off for Akinbiyi, to try and force a goal.
Force a goal the change did! On the hour mark, Stephen Crainey went over to take a freekick from the right hand side, and as that set-piece broke down, he collected the ball again and picked out Wes Hoolahan on the left wing with an inch perfect 40 yard ball. The Irish magician jinked a ball up the line to the energetic Jorgensen, who stood up a cross to big Ben Burgess, and the former Hull City powered a header home after beating Jordon with ease in the air, and off he flapped to celebrate the 2-0 lead?
Just three minutes later, the points were safe. The ball broke to super Claus Jorgensen around 25 yards from goal and he smashed in my personal goal of the season past Kiraly – whose extra ear will have felt the full benefit of Claus’ shot whistling past him (a bit of surround sound does no harm!) into the Clampet net for 3-0.
The mass exodus out of the Gene Kelly stand was met with jeers from the home crowd in the Kop, and the predictable ‘we can see you sneaking out?’ chant, which always makes me smile.
I’ve read some comments about the Gene Kelly stand from Burnley fans, and I’d agree with most of them, but the irony in their moaning is laughable? I’m still picking the splinters out of my arse from the game at Turf Moor!
We had plenty more chances to win the game by more, and Andy Morrell (who came on along with David Fox and Bart) actually scored, but for an offside flag, which was the right decision.
The away team seemed to give up after the third goal, were clattering into eachother and all sorts, so it is a bit disappointing we failed to score more, but I suppose 3-0 will do!
BFC are now sitting comfortably in mid table with 33 points, interestingly just ten points away from what would have kept us in this division last year…
…if we buy some players this month though, the possibilities are endless!
‘It has been a great day. The performance rounded of what has been a demanding but fantastic Christmas period for us.
‘We tried to make sure that we set a good tempo and put the opposition on the backfoot and we certainly did.
‘Right the way through the team, everybody put in a performance – the back four were immense, they headed and challenged, the strikers worked their socks off and the players were still running and challenging in injury time which says a lot for the desire and the character.’
‘I don’t think it comes more disappointing than that. From start to finish we never coped with their strikers and they were cheap, cheap goals we lost.
‘The second goal was always going to be important and looking back, I think it was Blackpool’s first venture into our half, and it was a poor goal to concede.
‘We did have chances second half, but it was nowhere near the standard we’re looking for. There were far too many people not anywhere near the individual standard and certainly the collective standard we’re looking for at this football club.
‘Disappointing doesn’t sum it up. There’s ways of getting beat and that certainly wasn’t one of them. I’m deeply hurt by that and I feel that I should be. I expect a lot better.’