When was the last time Blackpool FC was game of the day in our division? Well, that`s exactly what The Seasiders were on Saturday as they played host to sixth placed Swansea City. The away contingent was woeful, with fewer than 400 making the trip from Wales.
Inside Bloomfield Road the wind was like that of Tuesday night, when the Pool fought out a 2-1 win against Cheltenham Town.
Manager Simon Grayson was able to keep the same side that won on Tuesday, with Jorgensen, Wilkinson, Burgess and Vernon all making the bench.
The game was kicked off with Pool kicking towards the vacant South Stand (which was strangely short of flags today, with only Blackpool Vitals pinned up against the railings) and tried to install a high tempo to the game straight away.
Wes Hoolahan started the game brightly, drawing numerous fouls – most notably from Alan Tate – who upended the Irish winger off the ball but managed to escape picking up a booking from referee Scott Mathieson, much to the dismay of Blackpool fans in the west.
Moments later on five minutes Hoolahan left the Swans defence standing before threading a great ball through to in form Andy Morrell. The former Coventry man, who is bang in form, somehow couldn`t hit the target from six yards with the gaping goal at his mercy.
The Seasiders were within a yard of opening the scoring on nine minutes. Keigan Parker out ran the leggy Swans defence from an Adrian Forbes through ball, only for the strikers effort to be ruled out due to offside. This was after a rasping drive from former Swans man, Adrian Forbes – whose shot whistled over the top of the bar.
The away side then suddenly showed signs of working openings, with Lee Trundle providing some testing times for Jackson and Evatt at the back. As soon as The Swans worked their way back into the game, a corner was won right in front of The Kop. This was to be taken by Trundle himself, and a few choice words were exchanged between him and the B block population. This must have spurred him on, as his whipped corner was diverted into his own goal by left back, Carl Dickinson. There was nothing keeper Rhys Evans could do as the ball took off into the top corner. Blackpool 0 – 1 Swansea City – after 20 minutes.
Another fantastic opportunity arose soon after for the home team, as Ian Evatt headed a Wes Hoolahan corner back across goal when he could have easily placed the yellow ball into the Swans net. Unselfish or poor judgement?
On 27 minutes, only two after his first miss, Ian Evatt again popped up at the back stick – after an exquisite cross from David Fox – but again his diving effort missed the target altogether.
Yet again a huge chance for Blackpool was missed as Keigan Parker went sprinting through only for his shot to sail over the bar. The Seasiders had had plenty of chances in the first half, but the Swans keeper hadn`t had a shot to save.
The quietly effective David Fox then had two shots from range come close, as the mighty drove on for an equaliser.
As they half drew to a close, many fans were asking themselves if this was to be our day, as so many chances had gone begging. The Swansea defence are normally difficult to break down, so they would be well drilled in the second period, thus making chances harder to come by.
Half time – Blackpool 0 – 1 Swansea City.
Manager Simon Grayson was bold at half time, as he hauled off the ineffectual Andy Morrell and replaced him with Big Ben Burgess.
An Andy Robinson free kick four minutes in was shockingly dealt with by Rhys Evans as he seemed to lose the ball for a second (in what looked to be a comfortable save) before rescuing the situation by blocking Lee Trundles attempt.
The talking point of the game followed. Keith Southerns well hit strike was only parried by Gueret in goal – and Keigan Parker tucked home the rebound. This was again wiped clean from the score sheet however, as the Scot was adjudged to be offside again. From my vantage point right in line with the incident, my personal opinion was that the goal should have stood, and we were desperately unlucky. The linesman and referee were poor throughout.
One minute later, on 54, Wes Hoolahans thunderous strike rattled the Swansea crossbar from 25 yards?leading to despairing groans in the west stand. The ball wasn`t dropping for the pool.
With 15 minutes remaining, Ben Burgess – who didn`t have the greatest game – was put in the clear – only for his shot to be saved easily by the keeper.
10 minutes were left when Simon Grayson decided to throw Scott Vernon on and to form a 4-3-3 formation as he replaced skipper Jackson.
An expert ball through again by Hoolahan – an exact copy of Burgess` chance before – was gleefully poked home by substitute Vernon and rescued a point for Blackpool, with Glad All Over ringing around Bloomfield Road.
It however nearly went all sour when former Accrington man Ian Craney fired just over from 20 yards.
The Seasiders kept pressing but it was to no avail. The performance much better than the result.
Rhys Evans – 7
Shaun Barker – 8
Ian Evatt – 8
Michael Jackson – 7
Carl Dickinson – 7
Adrian Forbes – 7
Keith Southern – 8
Wes Hoolahan – 8
Andy Morrell – 6
Keigan Psrker – 7
Ben Burgess – 6
Before Saturday a point would have suited me down to the ground. Ok, if we won we`d be in the top six, but not losing was a priority. If you don`t lose to the teams around and about, you will invariably finish higher then them.
So Saturday was a fantastic result in my opinion – on paper anyway. Anyone that was there will be thinking what on earth am I talking about, because to put it bluntly – we murdered them.
Lee Trundle wasn`t in it. Was Andy Robinson playing? We looked like a team high on confidence, willing to try and out pass for me the best team in this division. Looking at the table, obviously they`re not the best side, but looking at their squad, pick me a fault. They could even afford to let Leon Knight go. Could we?
The midfield were immense. Many people early in the season were saying how bad Southern was, and credit to the management for sticking with him, because he is back to the form that he showed when he was initially on loan from Everton. His hunger and desire is back. Is that a direct connection to the Belokon investment?
I`m not a big fan of David Fox, but his array of passing was awesome and the two of them in the middle seem to be clicking.
The defence were sound. Not many teams will keep Trundle and Fallon quiet like Evatt and Jackson did.
Here`s a question. Would Wes Hoolahan be so effective without an attack minded left back? Say someone like Gareth Evans? The fullbacks are key to the whole team, as we rely on the wingers too much. If we can keep Hoolahan, we`ll go far. If we don`t, I`m sceptical about the future. But remember – the future`s bright. The future`s tangerine.