DCSIMG

Leicester rocket brings sad Pool down to earth

THERE is a lovely scene in the BBC comedy series Early Doors when two bored, middle-aged men are pondering life in the pub.

One says: "You know Neil Armstrong?"

'Yes,' says his mate.

"Well, if you had a conversation with him, how long do you think you could talk without mentioning the moon?"

It's a bit like that with Blackpool and 1953.

Countless radio stations, all broadcasting live from Bloomfield Road last night, mentioned the Seasiders' legendary FA Cup triumph and the skills of Matthews, Morty and co on umpteen occasions.

Though it's great to have a past, sometimes it can become a bit of a millstone – especially when, as is the case these days, the club is in the third tier of English football with as much hope of repeating the feat as Nobby Stiles has of getting a clean bill of health from his dentist.

Pool certainly won't be Cup winners in 2005. That wasn't the aim anyway. They just wanted to make it to the fourth round and a meeting with Reading.

Alas, they failed, but there was no shame in the way they exited.

Pool matched their Championship opponents throughout and were defeated only by a superb strike from Leicester midfielder Joey Gudjonsson, which flew into the net like a bullet from fully 30 yards out.

One great strike aside, there was nothing to separate the teams and because of that manager Colin Hendry and his players can take great pride.

Given a little luck (a commodity in short supply at Blackpool this season) the Seasiders might even have forced an equaliser.

Simon Lynch missed a great chance in the first period and with just seconds left at the end, Leicester defender Jordan Stewart headed Danny Coid's corner against his own bar.

It wasn't to be but the fans recognised the effort the team had put in and quite rightly gave the players a rousing reception at the final whistle, halting the cheers only for referee Trevor Kettle's walk down the tunnel. The official was fussy; made some bad decisions; and didn't help the flow of a game made difficult enough by the conditions.

Hendry made two changes to the side which grabbed last-gasp relief at Swindon. Martin Bullock replaced Jamie Burns, with Coid switched to the left, and youth team goalkeeper Lewis Edge made the first Bloomfield Road start of his career. With Brad Jones unavailable, and Kevin Ellegaard and Lee Jones unfit, Edge was the only man the boss could choose.

Hendry must have been worried at throwing a largely untested 18-year-old into the fray but he needn't have been.

Just as at Bristol City on the final day of last season (the only other first team game in which Edge has played), the teenager rose to the occasion and underlined why most people at Blackpool think he is going to be a very good player in a few years.

He was alert, quick off his line, kicked well, made a superb double stop in the second half and was beaten only by that Gudjonsson wonderstrike.

Given that the last match he played was against Macclesfield's second string in front of an attendance of 139, to perform so well and so nervelessly in front of almost 7,000 wasn't a bad achievement.

Danny Coid was the other man who caught the eye. He was excellent, all pace, skill and tackling, and finally looks back to the player everyone knows he can be.

So to the action and in the first 45 minutes in particular it was a good, old fashioned cup tie – end to end, frantic and plenty of excitement.

In all honesty there wasn't a great deal of wonderful football but, with the wind swirling all over the place – at one amusing point the reporter from one national paper nearly lost his wig – that was hardly surprising.

Keigan Parker had a shot as early as the first minute and Coid's brilliant centre shortly afterwards was just begging to be converted, though neither Parker or his fellow striker Lynch were alert enough.

With fans still streaming into the stadium – a crash on the M6 plus more ticket problems had delayed many supporters – Leicester took the lead on 16 minutes. Granted, Pool failed to clear their lines properly, but no one could have predicted that Gudjonsson, picking the ball up more than 30 yards from goal, would produce a shot so good that it gave Edge virtually no chance.

If the midfielder had tried that shot ten more times he couldn't have repeated the feat, but credit where it's due – it was a great goal.

There was a let-off when James Scowcroft headed over with the goal at his mercy but the Seasiders had an even better chance on 39 minutes. Peter Clarke - another who performed with distinction all evening – belted in a shot from the right side of the box and Ian Walker parried straight to the feet of Lynch. But the on loan striker fluffed his shot from six yards, rolling the ball back to Walker with the goal at his mercy. To be fair, it probably looked a worse miss than it actually was. The ball was bouncing and had come back at Lynch fast.

Southern had a header saved under the bar and Edge made a good block at the start of the second period when David Connolly sprinted clear.

Then Parker smashed a free-kick wide from long range, followed by Clarke doing one of the bravest things ever witnessed on a football pitch – trying to pick a fight with Dion Dublin.

It was all getting a bit tasty, with Dublin the pantomime villain that every football crowd loves. Unfortunately he was subbed in the 70th minute with a thigh strain and we had to watch the football again.

Just after the referee scandalously booked Clarke for a foul that never was, Edge pulled off a terrific double stop – pushing Connolly's shot from the edge of the area on to the post and jumping to his feet to block Gareth Williams's follow up. The second effort was offside but Edge didn't know that.

As the clock ticked, Pool upped the tempo and three minutes into injury time had a last chance from Coid's corner. Substitute Paul Warhurst jumped with defender Stewart and the ball arrowed backwards off the Leicester player's head, hit the crossbar and rebounded to safety.

With that went any chances of extra time.

At least the PA announcer would surely soon cheer us up and tell us how many Burnley had got beaten by...

Football. It's a cruel game.

 
 
 

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