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FK Jelgava 2 Blackpool 1 - full match report

THERE are some moments in life difficult to describe, one of which occurred during the half time interval in this game.

Not for Latvians any tacky or half-hearted entertainment.

No, they go for something altogether more surreal.

No sooner had the whistle sounded, 120 young girls dressed in what can only be described as plastic white boiler suits (the type you'd wear if you were removing some dangerous asbestos from the garage) tramped onto the pitch to perform a dance routine that looked like an out-take from a Michael Jackson video. All the while, some thudding Eastern European dance music blasted away over the tannoy and the locals clapped along.

I'm not mocking. It was wonderfully bizarre and the sooner they get it at Old Trafford, the better place the world will be.

This friendly game, arranged by Valery Belokon, was a big deal locally.

It was the opening of the Olympic Sports Stadium in the town of Jelgava. The match was beamed live on Latvian television and was attended by the president.

The teams lined up on the pitch beforehand as various VIPs – such as the chairman of Jelgava City Council - gave speeches.

It was quite amusing to see the likes of DJ Campbell and Ian Evatt stood in the pouring rain for a good 10 minutes as the talking went on.

Despite the fact it was all in Latvian and they couldn't understand a word, the Pool lads gave a hearty round of applause when the speakers finished – mainly because that meant the contest could start and they could stop standing about getting cold.

The sell out crowd of 1,750 (all packed into the one stand at the ground) roared on the home team, who won the Latvian title last season and qualified for the Europa League (though they've since been knocked out).

The Seasiders had their own backing – three fans had travelled over from Poulton (Ian and Sue Carden and Ronnie Neale, you deserve a medal).

They might have wished they hadn't bothered during a pretty poor first half when Pool found themselves 2-0 down and the weather was absolutely filthy – torrential rain … in other words the complete opposite to what you lot are enjoying back on the Costa del Fylde.

The first goal was a bad miskick by young keeper Mark Halstead, allowing Vladislavs Kozlovs to sidefoot the ball into an empty net.

Then Olegs Malasenoks added another, a quick one-two splitting Pool's back line and the striker finishing with a neat lob.

Understandably Pool didn't quite look completely up for the game. Ian Holloway suggested as much earlier in the week, saying he was looking forward to the tour but could have perhaps done without playing a match. That's because he wanted his team to have a breather after a hectic start to life in the Premier League.

Still, Pool owe it to Belokon – a man who has done so much to help rejuvenate the club's fortunes – to travel to his homeland and allow him to show his countrymen just where he has been spending his cash of late.

And credit to the Seasiders for doing a professional job.

Even as conditions worsened towards the end and darkness fell (a bit of a problem given there were no floodlights – thank God for the tangerine shirts), they battled and gave their all and deservedly pulled a goal back when Campbell's lovely chip over the keeper was bundled in from close range by Brett Ormerod.

Campbell played the full 90 minutes and looked like a drowned rat by the end – bet he's delighted he's back!

It's a well-earned day off for the players today. They are guests of honour at tonight's Latvia v Croatia international (Kaspars Gorkss is captain of the Latvian team) and then jet back to Blackpool – and hopefully some sunshine – early tomorrow.

POOL: Halstead, Eastham, Coid (Husband 45), Edwards (Crainey 39), Evatt, Grandin (Ormerod 45), Campbell, Phillips (Varney 45), Basham (Barkhuizen 81), Euell (Thomsett 81), Sylvestre (Demontagnac 45)

 
 
 

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