GTF: Goals cost us Premier place

Blackpool's Gary Taylor-Fletcher
Blackpool's Gary Taylor-Fletcher
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GARY Taylor-Fletcher has blamed the Seasiders’ failure to stop leaking late goals for their relegation to the Championship.

The frontman believes Pool would have survived easily had they been able to keep opposition sides out towards the end of games.

The stats are there to back up his argument.

Last term Ian Holloway’s side conceded in the last five minutes on 15 occasions – against Blackburn (twice), Fulham, Manchester City, West Brom (twice), Aston Villa, Wolves (twice), Bolton, Birmingham, Southampton, Manchester United and Spurs (twice).

“The whole thing is a kick in the teeth,” said Taylor-Fletcher.

“Getting 39 points for starters and not staying up is tough. Nine out of the last 10 years that would have been safe – just that one point more and we would have stayed up.

“But it is the late goals that have really hurt us. If games had finished after 88 minutes, I think we’d have been mid-table and far away from the drop zone.

“But that is the beast that the Premier League is.

“It is a magnificent league, I think the best league in the world, and it can do that to you – you are up against such quality sides they are capable of scoring right until the final second.

“We were just glad to be part of it for a year, but it is just such a shame that we won’t be next year.

“However, the way we played was a credit to the players we had.

“Everybody wrote us off, but the performances and the achievements we produced as a squad were unbelievable.

“We got some big wins along the way.

“People will always be saying ‘what if?’ when you are just one point away from staying up, but what a great year it was for the players, the fans, and for the town of Blackpool.

“We can’t look back with any regret and say ‘what if?’ or ‘should we have done that different?’

“We have to look back on the memories we’ve got and the way we played and enjoy it.”

Taylor-Fletcher is about to depart on a well-deserved holiday – deserved because he was one of the stars of the Seasiders maiden Premier League campaign.

It might be a couple of weeks on from that fateful final match at Old Trafford, but the Seasiders frontman admits he still can’t stop thinking about it.

“When we went 2-1 up at Manchester United I was thinking ‘this could be our day’.

“Even when it went 2-2, I thought Brett Ormerod was going to come on and score the winner. If he had, that would be the three same goalscorers from last year’s play-off win at Wembley – Charlie, me and Brett,” said Taylor-Fletcher.

“Unfortunately it never happened, and Ian Evatt was killing himself for his own goal.

“But even a 2-2 draw wouldn’t have been enough and I’m just glad Michael Owen went on to score a fourth as it took a bit of emphasis of Evo.

“He was magnificent all year, and he didn’t deserve the season ending like that.

“And it wasn’t lost there. You can look at January and say that unsettled things. We were stuck on 28 points too long – we couldn’t buy a point, let alone get a win.

“It was hard to get our heads up during then, but the thing was we were never in the relegation zone. We went all those games without barely a win and we never once slipped into the bottom three.

“So we were still thinking we were going to be fine.

“But we gave it our best shot and I don’t see any reason why we can’t bounce back next season.

“We’ve got a magnificent set of lads still at the club but that’s the key – we need to keep as many of them as we can.”