Memory Match: Blackpool 2-0 Rochdale, 2001

Pool boss Steve McMahon
Pool boss Steve McMahon
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Matt Scrafton trawls through the archives to take a look back at Blackpool's 2-0 win against Rochdale on December 8, 2001.


John Murphy in action against Rochdale

John Murphy in action against Rochdale

Teenage Rochdale goalkeeper and future Blackpool shot stopper Matt Gilks had a game to forget as the Seasiders eased their way into the third round of the FA Cup.

Blackpool opened the scoring after 21 minutes when John Murphy headed home a cross from Paul Simpson, catching Gilks off his line.

The young keeper, deputising for Neil Edwards, was caught out again seven minutes before the break by a strike from Simpson.

The veteran winger received the ball, looked up and curled a stunning shot into the corner of the net.

Rochdale attempted to find a way back into the game in the second half, but Simpson hit the post after 53 minutes.

Martin Bullock for Blackpool and Rochdale’s Dave Flitcroft then hit the woodwork within a minute of each other.

Simpson almost made it 3-0 in injury time, but his shot rebounded off the post.

Despite the miss, the winger was in supreme form for Blackpool. He’s long since been one of Pool’s best, but here he put in a performance the like of which we haven’t seen before.

With Brett Ormerod gone to St Mary’s, it makes sense to pass the halo to Simpson to let him do his stuff in a new role. And how he and the team have responded.

Young Rochdale keeper Gilks was away with the fairies as well as away from home when the ball dropped down to Simpson 35 yards out.

Spotting Gilks way off his line, Simpson didn’t need a second invitation – his long-range looping volley judged to perfection as it sailed into the net.

That made it 2-0 towards the end of a first half almost totally dominated by a Simpson-inspired Pool.

In the second half, Simpson would have made it a hat-trick had Pool’s posts already made their adjustment to the west in line with the new stadium.

Twice in the second half Simpson hit the westerly post at the south-paddock end with superb skill.

Seven minutes into the half, a peach of a 22-yard free-kick curler from a short-tap routine with Neil MacKenzie rebounded back off the upright.

And then, beyond the 90th minute, his outside of the foot shot from a similar spot hit the same post after Gilks had made a hash of a clearance.

Bullock had got in on the act eight minutes from time, when he hit the same piece of wood.

Unsung midfielder Lee Collins did well to work the ball down the line and Murphy did even better to touch it inside to Bullock.

Bullock, fresh from scoring his first Pool goal in midweek, was free to run in on goal and looked sure to add his first league strike.

He did everything right to tuck the ball under the advancing Gilks but was cruelly denied when the ball rebounded off the upright.

Pool’s passing was sparkling at times. It’s as if with Ormerod gone they have lost their star man and found a team.

The intricate passing and movement off the ball was of the highest standard in the first half as Dale were simply swept aside.

Lone frontman Murphy has more reason than most to miss Ormerod – their partnership brought them 51 goals last season and 24 this.

But far from feeling lost, Murphy has marked his first two games post-Brett by scoring in both and taking over at the top of the goal charts with six.

He followed up his midweek belter against Chesterfield with a trademark header to open the scoring after 22 minutes.

No surprises about the supplier – that man Simpson floating an inch-perfect ball to the far right-hand post.

Murphy’s header was all about direction rather than power. He sent it back across Gilks and saw it trickle into the left corner of the Kop End goal.

When Simpson’s moment of genius made it 2-0, Pool were cruising on a day when the atmosphere was surprisingly flat.

The Seasiders were able to stroll into the third round with none of the anxiety they endured in the two matches with non-leaguers Newport in the first round.

And although there’s no doubt Dale were in a sorry state, Pool should take the vast majority of the credit, especially considering they were so understrength.

Richard Wellens and Jon O’Kane were both banned; loan duo Ian Marshall and Andy Payton were both ineligible; and it was the first home game since Ormerod.

At the other end, Phil Barnes earned his stripes in the second half, when Rochdale tried to mount some sort of pressure.

Barnes did well to stand up to a buffeting when he came to collect crosses and got down well to make two important saves.

The only time Barnes was beaten was straight after Bullock had been denied by the post. And Pool’s keeper was also given a deserved break by his woodwork.

Given Blackpool’s superiority, the only surprise was that it took such a wonderfully opportunist goal as Simpson’s to give them the security two-goal cushion.

There were rare second-half moments when it seemed they might need more as Dale pressed, but there were more when it seemed Pool would add to their score. And, with neither happening, it was fitting that Simpson’s first half cracker sealed it.


Blackpool: Barnes, Coid, Reid, Hughes, Jaszczun, Bullock, Collins, MacKenzie, Simpson, Hills, Murphy

Subs: Pullen, Parkinson, Clarkson, Thompson, Milligan

Rochdale: Gilks, Evans, Jobson, Griffiths, McAuley, Durkan, Flitcroft, Oliver, Doughty, Platt, Connor

Subs: Atkinson, Coleman, Ware, McCourt, O’Keefe

Attendance: 5,191