Today was the first meeting between Blackpool and Preston in seven years, and it didn’t disappoint! A cheeky Wes Hoolahan penalty was enough to give The Seasiders a famous victory, much to the delight of nearing 3000 travelling fans.
Simon Grayson made a bold change in the middle of the park prior to the game, with Michael Flynn, who was impressive when he came on against Scunthorpe on Monday, replacing the recently ineffectual David Fox, who dropped to the bench. That switch meant ‘Pool started like this:
Barker – Gorkss – Jackson © – Crainey
GTF – Jorgensen – Flynn – Hoolahan
Burgess – Morrell
Not that this matters, but Preston started with:
St.Ledger – Mawene – Chilvers – Hill
Sedgwick – McKenna © – Davidson – Whaley
Agyemang – Gallacher
PKE got the game underway, as they kicked towards the kop, which was largely populated by Blackpool fans. Pockets of empty seats could be seen around the ground, which was pathetic from the home support.
The Seasiders started the brighter, and an early corner from Hoolahan almost found its way to Kaspars Gorkss but Mawene was there to clear. Seconds later, another wave of ‘Pool pressure saw a teasing cross just elude Gorkss again, who was causing problems for Chilvers – with just around three minutes on the clock!
However, the opening minutes of ‘Pool pressure was to be turned on its head for a large spell of the first period. An uncharacteristic nervous performance by our backline meant that Preston could build up a head of steam. Corners and heavy pressure for the enemy came and went, but without any harm done, and Blackpool singing voices from behind the goal still intact!
The two sides exchanged ‘golden opportunity moments’ midway through the half. First of all, Michael Flynn wasted a one-on-one chance after neat footwork from BBB to thread him in. To give him his due, former Tangerines ‘keeper Andy Lonergan made a smart stop to deny the former Gillingham captain.
Another former Gill had the next massive chance in the game; Patrick Agyemang raced through the (non existent) seaside defence, on the inside of Gorkss, past Rachubka, but saw his weak effort trickle tamely towards goal, where Gorkss then made up for his lack of pace to block, after smashing himself against the post! Credit to Rabs though; he drew the striker wide, and made it more difficult for him to score, as Agyemang was slipping as he hit the shot. The fact that Agyemang is perhaps the worst player I’ve seen all season is irrelevant, but after being told all week by knobbers that he was going to be their main threat, I was definitely surprised at his showing.
Paul Gallacher also had a decent chance towards the end of the half, as he was allowed to break from midfield far too easily, and as Jackson backed off, the man on loan from Blackburn hit a shot that just missed Rabs’ right hand post.
At the break, the game was nicely poised at 0-0, but Blackpool needed to come out with renewed vigour after the interval, otherwise PKE would certainly capitalise?
?come out with renewed vigour they did!
No changes for either side, and as we kicked towards our excellent travelling support (who never stopped singing all game, despite the obvious tension) Andy Morrell had a decent chance just 30 seconds into the second period. He beat Youl Mawene for pace (yes, pace!) down the PKE flank, with no right back to be seen and as he found his way into the box realised there was no support, by which time Mawene had recovered and cleared for a corner, with the aid of the goalkeeper.
The game remained pretty open throughout, but The Seasiders were finding it difficult to win second ball all game, which allowed the home side to maintain attacks – not that it mattered much!
The ‘Pool scored just before the hour mark, but the goal was disallowed for offside. A lovely ball from Ben Burgess found its way to Jorgensen in behind the defence and he slotted into the net, but the linesman on the near side had raised his flag. However, it seemed that Morrell was the player who’d languished offside, and not Jorgi?
Not to be perturbed by the debateable offside decision, we kept pressing, but only after PKE saw a freekick flash wide. Ultimately Michael Jackson paid the price for that silly foul which could’ve landed us in trouble as he was hauled off along with a standing ovation, and polite applause from the home support, to be replaced with Ian Evatt, making his return from injury.
A couple of minutes later, we took the lead! The magician showed his magic as Hoolahan danced around two players before bending a beautiful ball inside the right back and outside the centre halve for BBB to chase. The big striker – who was fantastic in the air and on the deck throughout – won the ball and as he knocked it past Mawene to run onto, the clumsy defender hacked him down inside the box for a penalty – a stonewaller.
The magician Hoolahan was already a hero at Bloomfield Road, but he wrote his name into Blackpool folk-law as the resulting spot kick was expertly dispatched with a cute dink down the middle to send the ‘Pool support into raptures. The little man has skill, a football brain and above all, bottle. After missing a penalty the other week at home to Norwich, how confident did he look today?
Changes were made by both sides with GTF (who was technically poor, but battled hard) going off with Parker his replacement. This meant Morrell would finish the game as a right midfielder, and Keigan up top with Burgess.
Alan Irvine made a few changes as well, spread across the half. The two noticeable subs were Callum Davidson and Youl Mawene (who pushes Agyemang close for ‘numpty of the game’) as they both came off. To be honest, I’m not sure who replaced them, not that it matters. What does matter though is that Irvine obviously saw that the two aforementioned players were agents from Blackpool, employed by former agent Simmo, with both of them living in the heart of the Fylde, Ansdell, and evidently showing that they have Blackpool in their heart after their two showings today!! Cheers lads, job done!
After the two agents came off, it was no surprise the home team upped their game, as they chased a point. Kaspars Gorkss brought down Neil Mellor just outside the box (although Radio Lancs seem to think it was inside) and the resulting freekick was blasted wide by Billy Jones.
Another freekick, this time in three minutes of stoppage time was in a threatening place for Preston. Paul McKenna, making his 400th appearance for the Lilywhites stepped up and curled the ball onto Rachubka’s crossbar, and just as ‘Pool fans were picking up their hearts from out of mouths, in came the rebound from Agyemang, but Gorkss cleared and that was just about that.
Mark Clattenburg, who had a good game, blew for full time and Blackpool were the winners of the West Lancashire derby at Deepdale by one goal to nil, in front of almost 18,000 people.
Preston sunk to 23rd, a point ahead of QPR, whilst we rose three places to 18th, three points of the drop zone; UpThePool!
Made some decent stops, and close to being MOM. USA! USA! 8/10.
Gets better every game, and another brilliant performance today. 8/10.
Did well up until being subbed, gave away some silly freekick’s however. 7/10.
Some really good blocks, but looked off it a bit today. Gutsy though, which is what you ask for in a derby. 7/10.
Not his best game in tangerine, but stillw as composed once he’d settled down. 8/10.
Poor going forward, but did well when defending. 7/10.
Worst game in a long time, he got bossed out of the midfield too much, which was a shame. 6/10.
Really good performance and but still nowhere near his best, which is good to know! 8/10.
Fantastic. Won nearly everything in the air, and the penalty. 8/10.
His best game in a long time, and did well when filling in on the right. 8/10.
The next fixture is on Tuesday at home to Cardiff City, 7:45 kick off at Bloomfield Road.