2012 has been an enlightening year thus far. Blackpool have fully utilised a squad which was, for the most part, assembled before and during this league campaign, and finally resembles a team Ian Holloway envisaged when he took the reins at Bloomfield Road almost three years ago.
Coming from behind to win games three times in as many weeks has added a steel to a tangerine side that before the turn of the year was pretty to watch but lacked consistency.
Suddenly the national media and bookies are taking notice of a resurgent Pool, who do not know when they’re beaten and possess the style and panache of a club who should have amassed many more points than they have.
But as it stands, the Seasiders sit in fifth place in the Championship table and are looking to keep their unbeaten 2012 going when they host Portsmouth on Saturday evening.
They were at their imperious best on Tuesday night, sweeping aside Sheffield Wednesday in the televised FA Cup replay. What was impressive was not the result (indeed, Pool should have beaten their League One opposition a few weeks earlier) but the fluidity of football akin to the very best.
The Sky cameras are on Blackpool again, and who would bet against a similar display as they aim to please the watching, and intrigued, nation?
Pool are noted for their end of season form – both promotions in the last five years have been results of a spectacular run in. But Holloway doesn’t want a repeat.
‘It would be another minor miracle if we could achieve the impossible for a second time and actually go up again, but that is what we are trying to do,’ he told the Blackpool Gazette.
‘All I know is that I have got a great group of lads who are playing some terrific football and who never let me down.
‘We’re on a nice little run. We`ve had two great wins, and the character we showed in the previous run of matches to come from behind – including coming from two goals down at Ipswich – should give us even more encouragement.
‘But we need to keep picking up three points on a regular basis now, rather than leave it until the last 10 games of the season, which we seem to have done a few times.
‘It wouldn’t do much for my health if we left it that late this time, so hopefully we can carry on getting three points on a regular basis and make it easier for ourselves, so we don’t need another fantastic run towards the end.’
Lomana Lua Lua on his time at Portsmouth: “Portsmouth is a club with a big place in my heart,’ he said.
‘I joined them after I was at Newcastle, and Harry Redknapp took me there and gave me another chance. To play in the Premier League for that club was amazing. From day one the fans took to me and I really fell in love with the place.
‘We were in a bit of a relegation fight, which wasn’t nice, but thank God we didn’t go down. I loved my time there and I never wanted to leave.
‘But in football and in life you don’t know what is round the corner, and other things in my life dictated that I left.’
Blackpool Team News:
Keith Southern is still missing, but Blackpool aren’t struggling in the midfield department. Barry Ferguson, Ludovic Sylvestre, Angel Martinez, Chris Basham, John Fleck and Gary Taylor-Fletcher are all vying for the three spaces.
Kevin Phillips and Roman Bednar are expected to provide ammunition from the bench once again.
Player to watch: Matt Phillips
Reports this week linked Liverpool with a summer move for Matt Phillips and if the winger continues his astonishing run of form, it won’t be long before the bigger Premier League clubs begin sniffing properly.
Man of the moment and hot property, Phillips is in the form of his life.
Portsmouth Team News:
Pool fans won’t have the opportunity to watch Luke Varney again, who is out with knee ligament damage.
Tal Ben Haim is a doubt through injury, as are strikers Benjani and Dave Kitson – all of whom are suffering from hamstring injuries.
Player to watch: Erik Huseklepp
Huseklepp was the match-winner when the two sides met earlier in the season and is Pompey’s top scorer this campaign.
Tricky from wide areas, Alex Baptiste could be in for a testing 90 minutes.
Match Facts & Stats
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Tuesday 14 February, 2012
Doncaster Rovers (A)