Date: 20th January 2008 at 1:19pm
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Another infuriating day at the office for Simon Grayson ensued yesterday as The Seasiders were held to a 1-1 draw by Ipswich Town. Sitting fourth in the form table, ‘Pool would be forgiven in thinking that the game against The Championship’s worst travellers may very well have produced three points, and in hindsight perhaps it should’ve done.

Blackpool started with a conventional 4-4-2 system, with McPhee making his full home debut in place of Scott Vernon, and Michael Jackson dropped in place of Ian Evatt in the defence the only changes from the 4-1 defeat at Charlton:

Barker © – Evatt – Gorkss – Crainey
GTF – Jorgensen – Flynn – Hoolahan
McPhee – Burgess

Ipswich sort to try and gain a tactical advantage – as they lined up 4-5-1 – with Pablo Counago leading the line himself, but with two wide players tucking in at every opportunity to help:

Sito – De Vos – Bruce – Wright
– Legwinski — Garvan –
Haynes – – – Roberts – – – Walters
– – – – – – Counago – – – – – –

The game started with a fantastic tempo to it, as Stephen McPhee was harrying the Town defenders almost instantly and had an effort balloon wide, but his intent was there to see, which gave the crowd a huge lift from the off, which in turn helped the atmosphere straight away, which was brilliant from the Kop yet again throughout the game.

The Tangerines were playing too long and direct; Burgess became swamped by Ipswich defenders as he tried to win flick-ons for McPhee to chase. No real chances were created until the 15th minute which fell to the away side, from all Blackpool’s doing: Stephen Crainey had the simple task of heading the ball back to Rachubka in goal, but on the edge of his own box he got it all wrong and the ball ended up skewing off his head to the onrushing Gary Roberts, but a crucial intervention from Kaspars Gorkss spared the Scotsman’s blushes.

As De Vos was winning the majority of Rachubka’s long balls, ‘Pool tried to go down a less direct avenue, by playing McPhee in, inside the fullback, which utilised his pace really well and gave Town an extra problem to think about, which is what was definitely needed as they’d had it easy up until then. This change in approach certainly worked, as a ball up the line found its way back to Taylor-Fletcher and his cross found Burgess at the back stick but the big mans’ header was off target.

The former Hull City striker (that’s Burgess, not McPhee!) had an even better chance moments later as GTF`s wonderful cross found him in exactly the same place, only for him to find Neil Alexander in the Town goal from six yards.

The away side couldn’t get Walters and Haynes into the game from wide positions, and Blackpool were able to build attacks from the fullback areas, which was the starting point for the opening goal on 38 minutes. Crainey knocked a ball up to Burgess who cleverly threaded McPhee clear, and with the Ipswich defences’ arms’ flailing, the new signing took the ball on into the box, squared it for Jorgensen who tapped into an open net – a real footballing goal to make it 1-0.

Jorgensen was instrumental yet again from the middle of the park, but it was his partner Michael Flynn who almost made it two for ‘Pool just before half time. In the Ipswich D, Flynn spun and shot just past the left hand post, but perhaps he should have looked up and put GTF through, who was unmarked to the right of him.

At the break, Blackpool deservedly lead 1-0.

An early chance was created an almost finished by GTF, as he dribbled past the Town defence before hitting his shot straight at the away ‘keeper. I was very impressed with Taylor-Fletcher yet again. After a stop start beginning to his seaside career, the former Huddersfield striker has adapted well to the right hand side berth, with his direct running and eye for goal. The quality of his crosses have upped considerably over the few months that he has been here, and but for poor finishing, his assist count would be far higher than his two. Whilst on the topic of assists, it is interesting to note that a certain Keigan Parker is top of the list with five for the season so far?

Shortly after that chance, Danny Haynes got the better of Shaun Barker down the left, and his shot whistled across the box and just missed Rachubka’s left hand post.

The game looked to have been presented on a plate by Ipswich just after the hour mark, as right back Sito lunged in two footed at Wes Hoolahan and after careful consideration – showing good refereeing – Mike Pike blew for the foul and immediately produced a red card, which was Sito’s just reward for a stupid challenge.

Straight from the resulting freekick, The Seasider`s should have sealed the game for themselves as a Burgess cross found McPhee six yards out, at a nice height for a diving header but the new man somehow missed the target altogether, much to the disbelief of all inside Bloomfield Road.

Sucker-punch time had arisen. On 65 minutes, just a moment after McPhee’s glaring miss, The Tractor Boys won a corner and inevitably scored from it through Jon Walters – much to the delight of the healthy albiet quiet away support – after a decent ball in from the former Accrington man Roberts. I’m not sure who was supposed to be marking him, but he ghosted in and planted a header right in the top corner – yet another goal against from a set play; no doubt the poor weather at Squires Gate will be blamed for the fact that we can’t defend corners – just like it was last week!

Kaspars Gorkss nearly instantly put ‘Pool back in front as his header looked to be goal bound but a marvellous one handed tip from Alexander meant the score remained at 1-1.

Substitutions followed – and baffling ones at that. GTF was unfortunate to be brought off for Andy Welsh; Andy Morrell came on for McPhee and later on Fox replaced Flynn.

I felt sorry for Welsh when he came on. As soon as he stepped foot on the pitch, you could hear the home fans querying his inclusion, and the moans and groans were apparent throughout his performance. He didn`t have his best game, but for an old fashioned left winger to be operated on the right and be expected to produce quality all the time is just not feasible. From the right, he couldn`t get a good angle on his crosses to cause Town any problems. If he’d been played on the left, and allowed to get to the byline, crossing back across goal instead of towards the goalkeeper, we would definitely have seen a better showing from him. Hoolahan was having a quiet game, so there was no harm in putting him out on the right and trying something different down the left hand side.

It was huff and puff stuff for the remainder of the game, and the only attacks of real note were Hoolahan’s drive that flew over and Jorgensen’s blocked shot from all of 30 yards.

Jim Magilton’s side deserved a point, not for their own performance, but for our inability to kill a team off, which has been a lingering problem all season. The good news is that Preston lost again, which means that a gap of seven points has now opened up between us and the drop zone; with 18 games left, a gap of anymore than 12 points in the games to follow and Blackpool Football Club could very well be travelling to the likes of Derby and Fulham next season, which would be a massive achievement with the lack of investment.

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