Date: 4th October 2008 at 6:33pm
Written by:

Poor, lacklustre and devoid of all quality. Yes, my pre match meat and potato pie robbed me of a couple of quid, much in the same way The Seasiders robbed opponents Cardiff City of two points at Bloomfield Road, as Alan Gow struck with seconds left to secure a draw in a game which we might have lost 4-0 on another day.

Paul Parry had given The Bluebirds a deserved lead with just six minutes remaining, but Blackpool showed good character to score a late (very late!) equaliser.

Simon Grayson made one change from the 1-1 draw at QPR on Tuesday as the injured Claus Jorgensen was replaced by Adam Hammill. Stephen McPhee made the bench for the first time this season, and Marlon Broomes kept his sideline spot ahead of Zesh Rehman.

Blackpool (4-4-2):
Barker – Edwards © – Evatt – Camara
GTF – Southern – Vaughan – Hammill
Burgess – Kabba

Cardiff (4-4-2):
McNaughton – Johnson – Purse © – Kennedy
Whittingham – McPhail – Rae – Ledley
Bothroyd – McCormack

It was clear from the opening embers of the match that we were in for some pretty heavy watching in the 90 minutes. The wind was howling at the seaside as Pool booted the ball out of play straight from the kick off. Oh dear?

The team never got going at all. The ball wasn’t sticking up front with Burgess and Kabba, and the midfield were admiring their handywork instead of joining in with play. Playing David Vaughan in the middle with Southern on paper looked a good move, but McPhail and Rae had the beating of the tangerine pairing all afternoon and looked classy and efficient in their play.

There seemed to be a distinct gameplan from the management today. Pool have performed exceptionally well away from home so far this season – with the wins at Southampton and Birmingham being particular stand outs – and it did look as if Grayson tried to create an away game mentality against the fluent passing of Cardiff.

The midfield dropped off to allow the ball players of City to knock it around at will, as we tried to hit them on the counter – where we have been most effective this campaign so far. However, this obviously requires the players to be up for the fight and win their challenges which just didn’t happen.

Some would argue that the gameplan worked relatively well in that Dave Jones’ outfit only actually scored when we looked most dangerous and on the attack, but the truth is that the away side should have been out of sight by half time.

Firstly, Jay Bothroyd had an opportunity to open the scoring but his shot flew over after neat work in beating Shaun Barker. The right back looked out of sorts again today after a decent run of performances, but lacked pace and fitness as he battled against the tricky Joe Ledley; the winger had a quiet game as well by his own high standards, largely down to his own performance and not that of Barker.

And it was Ledley who missed a guilt edge chance just before the break. Blackpool were cut up, easy as you like, as the quick incisive passing of the opposition left Ledley all on his own at the back stick as it was rolled to him, but the Welsh international flashed his shot over the bar under no real pressure from ten yards.

Moments before that glaring miss, Peter Whittingham had somehow managed to fire over when left in a similar position in front of the kop.

Pool looked totally shell-shocked and a succession of corners saw Roger Johnson head wide. Most of our problems today came from the lively Ross McCormack who was signed from Motherwell in the summer. He continuingly dropped off his marker to pick up the ball deep and we weren’t attuned to this and allowed the scot to dictate proceedings.

How we managed to stay level at half time I’ll never know. There were no shots (Steve Kabba did have one, but Burgess got in the way, and as the big man slotted home the offside flag went up), no fight and no ideas.

And the second half wasn’t much better. Gary Taylor-Fletcher had his quietest game for a number of weeks – the constant switching of wings from himself and Hammill must be largely responsible for this. Hammill himself had a good game, one of his better showings in a tangerine shirt. However, they were both unfortunate to have to swap wings throughout which gave them no consistency. Premiership players might be able to operate this way, but our wingers certainly cannot – please keep them on their correct wings!

What we did do better in the second period is close the Cardiff midfield down much better and kept tighter to the two forwards. Edwards and Evatt both had magnificent games, up against two top strikers for this division, and with this pairing we look difficult to score against – even when as a team we are dire.

Burgess and Kabba were both replaced by Stephen McPhee and Alan Gow in the second half. Kabba especially didn’t look at all fit, as he failed to gather the ball in or run after a routine 50/50. But from the start we didn`t have any other option but to play him. The international break should do him good.

After these subs Pool built up a head of steam for ten or so minutes, which woke the fans up and it was good to see Mo Camara bombing up and down his line trying to provide ammunition for the strikers.

Dave Jones had made a bold substitution just after the hour mark, bringing Ledley off for Paul Parry, and it was Parry who was to score what the travelling fans thought to be the winner on 84 minutes. Ironically the goal came from a Blackpool attack from the pressure I mentioned before; Hammill cut the ball back for Alan Gow whose miscued shot ended up being cleared to the halfway line, which created a three-on-three counter attacking situation for City. Gavin Rae stormed through the Pool half with great purpose and slipped in Parry who slotted past Rachubka – the type of goal our own tactics should have produced.

And it was another substitute who unbelievably stole a draw for the home side. Moments before, hundreds of fans streamed out of the ground and the ones that remained had to endure the ‘cheerio’ taunts from the Welsh supporters. But it was the English who had the last laugh when Alan Gow’s (yes, Scottish!) sweet strike in injury time after he chested the ball down left Tom Heaton floundering as the loanee bounded off to the corner to celebrate with the supporters. A superb way to introduce yourself properly to the fans!

And in a bizarre finish, Gow might’ve won it for The Seasiders on another day when he rifled the ball just over. The referee – who had been woeful all afternoon – blew up for full time just as Stephen McPhee was racing clean through to end a very strange game.

But it was a game I’m quite happy to have taken a point from. When you play badly, the least you can do is make yourselves stubborn opposition, and we did that to an extent today. So perhaps we got what we deserved in a getting a last gasp equaliser?

I’m not a huge moaner when it comes to the performances on the pitch, but felt today we were really below par. Many of you reading will probably disagree with a lot written in this report, but being blinkered about that showing today would be counter productive. Hopefully the team aren’t blinkered when they review the game, and bounce back against Doncaster.