IAN Holloway admitted Sam Allardyce caught him off-guard with an unexpected team selection last night.
The Seasiders boss had anticipated West Ham starting with targetman Carlton Cole up front.
Instead Allardyce sprang a surprise by relegating Cole to the bench and starting with Nicky Maynard instead.
Maynard, signed last month from Bristol City, went onto score the Hammers’ second goal and produced a fine performance which had Craig Cathcart and Ian Evatt on their toes all evening.
Holloway admitted: “They had a surprising line-up without Carlton Cole up the middle.
“They had Maynard, a mobile frontman, and five across the midfield … and to be fair it looked like they had ten.
“Normally we close very well. Last night it looked like every one of my players was in a glass bowl and couldn’t get to a West Ham player.
“Right from the off that was quite alarming and we couldn’t pass it either. They squeezed up.
“I told my lads what we were going to do and how they closed, but we kept playing into their hands.
“It drove me insane and we went two down. But to be honest what could the score have been? Much more. It was unrecognisable.
“We got back in it when we didn’t deserve to just before half-time. We actually got out wide for once and put a cross in and scored.
“It was probably the first time in a long time that Sam won’t be happy with his defending. They weren’t in the right place.
“Kevin Phillips headed it in and it looked like we might get out of jail.
“Then at half-time I put the other two subs on, and you know it’s not your night when you we can’t get back into it after they have an outfield player in goal. That killed us against a team which closed down very well.”