Date: 15th March 2008 at 5:26pm
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A disappointing Lancashire derby ended in a 0-0 draw at Bloomfield Road as Preston achieved what they set out to do – frustrate The Seasiders.

There were two changes from the team that lost 3-2 at QPR on Tuesday, with Southern injured and Morrell dropped to the bench in place of Ben Burgess.

Blackpool (4-4-2):
Barker © – Evatt – Gorkss – Crainey
GTF – Flynn – Jorgensen – Hoolahan
Burgess – McPhee

PKE (4-4-2):
Jones – Mawene – St. Ledger – Davidson
Sedgwick – McKenna – Carter – Whaley
Brown – Priskin

The away side started the brighter as they knocked the ball about with freedom, and the ‘Pool backed off too much, not seeming able to get their foot on the ball, inviting pressure on. Thankfully for Blackpool, the opening spell of pressure for PKE came to nothing.

Ironically enough, as soon as Simon Grayson’s side started to come back into the match, they were opened up at the back and would have been behind but for a cracking save by Paul Rachubka between the sticks from a Darren Carter shot as he tipped wide for a corner.

From then on it was all Blackpool. Burgess was causing Mawene all sorts of problems despite being nowhere near his best as he flicked balls on but unfortunately the thinking of Ben and McPhee wasn’t the same and the flick-ons were harmless.

However, it was Burgess who had the first home shot of the game as he raced past Mawene but skewed his shot wide. Shortly after, midfielder Claus Jorgensen – who was recalled for the injured Southern – fired a shot from 25 yards just wide, which had looked like being a blockbuster goal.

The support from all Blackpool fans today was brilliant, as a chant of ‘there’s only one Paul Simpson’ was bellowed out from the Kop – much to the amusement of many in the West stand!

I said in the week that set plays would be key in determining the result, and both teams had really good opportunities to create something from freekicks in and around the box. The first was 20 yards out for Stephen Crainey but he couldn’t get enough movement up and down on the ball and it flew over.

The second was an indirect set piece 30 yards from goal which was tapped to Michael Flynn who drove wide and it never really threatened former ‘Pool loanee Lonergan. Moments proceeding the two home freekicks, Darren Carter saw a left footed shot fly straight into the hands of Rabs at a deadball 18 yards out – either side of the stopper and it may have gone in.

Gary Taylor-Fletcher and Chris Sedgwick both saw efforts missed and a slightly frantic half came to an end at 0-0 but Larry must have been thinking at this point that our best chance to win the game had probably gone.

Half time: Blackpool 0-0 PrestonKE

In contrast to the first half, the second period was a dour affair. Neither side even looked like scoring throughout the 45 minutes. Alan Irvine’s team carried on their boring containing job, which worked a treat for the visitors.

The double man marking of Wes Hoolahan meant the Irish magician couldn’t really get in the game at all, and possibly should have stayed on his wing instead of trying to dictate from the middle of the park which hindered the flow. Whilst not blessed with lightening pace, Wes is best on the left and driving at a diagonal towards the right back, thus brining Crainey into play around the side. Today we saw too much tight football 40 yards from goal and failed to pass the ball wide nearly enough.

What swayed the game to a draw was the tactical substitution of Tomas Priskin for Neil Mellor. Priskin, who is on loan from Watford, didn’t cause any problems for Evatt and Gorkss (whom were both exceptional throughout, notably Evatt who returned back to form with a vengeance) and the introduction of former Liverpool man Mellor enabled the ball to stick up front a bit more as his antics and hold up play ate up time for the negative Preston.

Keigan Parker replaced GTF (can we have the winger playing some full games please?) and received a brilliant reception from fans at Bloomfield Road on his home comeback; pity then for Keigan that he continues to dive and optimism from supporters soon turned to despair and frustration at his performance. In defence of Parker, he had little to feed off when he came on (down to poor play by Burgess) and a couple more first team chances along with support from the fans like today, and he could again come good. McPhee went out wide, and was largely ineffectual for the remainder of the game, eventually being replaced by Andy Morrell. Perhaps Andy Welsh should have come on if Wes was operating mainly in the middle to add width to the fixture, because Billy Jones looked pretty riled and shaky all game.

Neil Mellor had a fantastic opportunity to win the game for PKE from a counter attack but his shot was deflected for a corner which they duly wasted.

Hoolahan had a shot late on but that was that, and both had settled for a draw long before Lee Probert blew for full time.

One point of note was that as we were travelling back home and listening to Radio Lancs, a certain David Eyres sounded very despondent that we were unable to win the game!

Other Results
As the results from around the grounds fly in, there were no real disastrous results for us today, (although Leicester winning 4-1 at West Brom wasn’t in the script) as defeats for Scunthorpe and Barnsley, coupled with a hammering for hapless Southampton mean we have stretched further away from a few teams, and no one has made any ground on us today as all below Blackpool bar The Foxes failed to win.


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