Finding more consistency should perhaps be Pool’s resolution for 2012, judging by the constrasting 3-0 results over the
New Year holiday weekend, but the win against Middlesbrough has certainly set our panel’s pulses racing to the year ahead...
In life we learn to take the rough with the smooth, and it’s fair to say that the 3-0 results from our last two games have reflected exactly that.
Beginning with Birmingham, which was simply one of those days. We were never at the races, and had it not been for a goalkeeper who is really taking his chance while he has it, the score could have been much more heavily tipped in their favour.
If we’d have held on to 0-0 by half time, we would have been fortunate. But they scored at the worst possible time for us, then added to it soon after the restart and this was immediately followed by the dismissal of our captain.
The New Year opened up with a difficult game against a team who are not beaten particularly often. Step forward the return of the Blackpool team we know and love! This was a big win and a big performance.
The opening 45 minutes was an entertaining affair, despite the lack of goals, and with Ince, LuaLua and the in-form Matt Phillips up front we were always likely to cause them problems.
Saturday’s display prompted a re-shuffle for this match but the unusual midfield trio of Basham, Sylvestre and Martinez looked like they had been playing first team football together for months.
Nobody needs any reminder as to our fixture this Saturday. I hope for a reasonably full-strength team as that will be the best chance to see Fleetwood off at the first time of asking.
Men of the match: Mark Howard (Birmingham) and Chris Basham (Boro).
The New Year’s weekend is probably best described as a tale of two games.
Against Birmingham we kept the ball really well in the first half, but we didn’t really get out of our own half. Birmingham scored on the stroke of half time, and it all went downhill from there.
I’d have said at half-time that we needed to possibly take a risk and try something different. Conceding another goal and our captain getting sent off wasn’t quite what I had in mind. From where I was sat, Ferguson’s elbow looked quite blatant, unfortunately. It could have been more in the end without keeper Mark Howard, including an incredible double save in the first-half.
It was just one of those things and capped off a bad day at the office. We had to go into the Middlesbrough game with a new look midfield, and the combination of Basham, Sylvestre and Martinez looked to give us a lot more balance. All three, especially Basham, were excellent in an outstanding all-round team performance. The extra credit goes to Matt Phillips and Tom Ince.
Phillips has really found his form, and Ince has done little wrong in a Tangerine shirt. With the likes of those two, the midfield and Cathcart, we do have a lot of talent coming through to build the team for the future.
The performances against Barnsley and Middlesbrough have shown what we’re capable of, the second half of the season has a lot of potential in store. Before then though, attentions turn to the FA Cup and an exciting derby game. I’m expecting changes, but not too many, and there’s little doubt that Fleetwood will put up a fight. Blackpool should have enough, though.
Men of match: Mark Howard (Birmingham) and Chris Basham (Boro).
A busy weekend with the yin and yang of football in evidence, losing 3-0 at Birmingham, followed by a resounding win at home to Middlesbrough.
I thought that we played well in spells at St Andrews, but often in places where we were not hurting the opposition.
Time and time again we built up nicely, only to fail to get a shot off by overplaying as we got to the box. They were content to let us play in front of us, then catch us on the break with pace and power.
King got a yellow card for an elbow in the first half for them, then the referee astounded most of the crowd by brandishing a red for Ferguson as he tried to hold off two men pressing him from behind. That killed the game completely and we were possibly lucky to concede only one more late on.
By contrast, Monday’s game saw an entertaining match with both sides giving it a go, but the return of LuaLua giving us the edge as a focal point of attack.
We were unfortunate to go in level at the interval but came out in similar mood, and Phillips followed us his Boxing Day heroics with another great strike and a couple of assists as we deservedly ran away with the game.
We now head up the Fylde Coast derby in good heart. It’s a game with everything to lose and nothing to gain, but potentially we can get another morale-boosting win.
Men of match: Mark Howard (Birmingham) and Matt Phillips (Boro).
Losing 3-0 to a team several places below them in the league, before winning 3-0 to a team several places above them – it could only be Blackpool!
We really can beat anybody, but we can also lose to anybody. Getting the most out of his players is a talent of Holloway’s – getting consistency from them is not.
I’m not complaining too much, though. Life as a Seasider is unpredictable and full of surprises. We just don’t know what’s going to happen at the weekend – a true reflection of football in general following the numerous wacky results across the country over the past week.
I’m sure every Tangerine would love to see their club in the play-off places, if not the automatic spot, but our current position – seventh, just one point off the coveted end-of-season lottery – is probably the most exciting position of all.
If recent history is to be repeated, we can expect to hover in this spot for the next few months, before sneaking into sixth right at the death. But who wouldn’t take that thrill – the complete rollercoaster ride?
I wouldn’t be myself if I didn’t look at the cloud on this silver lining though. We’re just one point off 10th place. While I’m sure the lads won’t be dwelling on the teams below them, instead focusing on catching the likes of Hull and Reading above them, I hope they realise even the smallest blip could cause our league position to crumble.
Man of the match: Matt Phillips (Boro).
It was a topsy-turvy weekend for the Seasiders but we have certainly started 2012 in a mighty impressive style.
Last year ended in disappointment at Birmingham, with a cruelly timed goal and Ferguson’s dismissal capping off a pretty dismal performance. Were we concerned? Of course not! This was not typical Blackpool and we are always going to encounter blips. This game is just best forgotten.
The Middlesbrough game was quite different though. Our opponents had dominated the opening spell of our recent encounter at the Riverside – indeed were one of the stronger outfits we have faced this season. However, I had suspected they would prove to be a different animal away from their home soil – and this was indeed the case.
Blackpool did not give Boro a chance to take hold of the game and dominated and tore them apart from the off. Our new three-pronged attacking arsenal, comprising of Matt Phillips (looking sensational now he has found his confidence), Lomana LuaLua and Tom Ince struck terror into the heart of the Boro defence. With the midfield secured with the defensive qualities of Angel, Ludo and Basham, our frightening forward line was free to wreak havoc and ensure three points were grabbed from our opponents.
But can we bring the Premier League circus back into town in 2012? You can be sure we will give it a damn good try.
Men of match: Mark Howard (Birmingham) and Lomana LuaLua (Boro).
Blackpool ended 2011 in a whimper at St Andrews and like London, the Midlands is proving to be a graveyard for Pool. Only keeper Howard restricted Birmingham to three goals with another fine display between the sticks not that Pool were ever likely to trouble City, I barely saw a shot at goal all afternoon. Ferguson’s dismissal gave an unexpected opportunity for Martinez to return while Basham replaced GTF for the visit of Boro.
The effect of these changes was clear to all as Pool looked to have a sense of purpose all over the pitch.
The first half pulsated from end to end despite the goalless scoreline with LuaLua, Matt Phillips and Tom Ince being a real handful for Boro.
It took just five minutes into the second half to signal the arrival of Pool’s first goal of 2012 from a revitalised Matty Phillips and with LuaLua adding a second, fans were treated to the sight of his somersault goal celebration.
While the strikers took all the glory it was Cathcart, and the excellent Basham who caught the eye for a superb display of energy and pace, Basham alone was everywhere, his reading of the game belied his years.
Blackpool are emerging as a formidable outfit and this result was on a par with the demolition of Leeds at Elland Road.
Finally, I was saddened to hear that Gary Ablett lost his fight at just 46-years-old against Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Signed by Steve McMahon in 2000, his stay at the Seaside was also cut short following Pool’s subsequent relegation.
Men of match: Mark Howard (Birmingham) and Chris Basham (Boro).