Memory Match: Blackpool 3-0 Southend, 1997

Lee Philpott for Blackpool in an aerial challenge with a Southend player
Lee Philpott for Blackpool in an aerial challenge with a Southend player
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Matt Scrafton trawls through the archives to look back at Blackpool's 3-0 win against the Shrimpers on September 27, 1997.

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Mark Bonner celebrates giving Blackpool the lead

Mark Bonner celebrates giving Blackpool the lead

Southend has the longest pier in Britain. After a long trip to the seaside, United still have one of the longest “pointless” away runs in the league.

But for Blackpool, it was three good points and three good goals.

On 18 minutes, it was James Quinn doing a star turn down the Blackpool right leaving makeshift defender Andy Rammell stuck in the stalls.

Quinn’s ball into Ellis was then laid back for Quinn whose curling shot, aimed for the far corner, was parried by keeper Simon Royce, but only to the grateful feet of Mark Bonner who tucked the ball into an open goal.

But it was always going to be the Seasiders’ second which would prove crucial. And this time it was Ellis’ class act, thanks to good support play from Micky Mellon and Junior Bent.

Mellon’s played a pinpoint ball to Bent down Blackpool’s right, Bent cut the ball back to Ellis who smashed home into the roof of the net.

For a worthy sideshow, look no further than the third. Substitutes Nigel Worthington, Andy Preece and Phil Clarkson were all involved in a crowd-pleasing 12-pass move.

Clarkson was the one who ended up having them dancing in the aisles by coolly curling the ball into the left-hand corner.

It was Clarkson’s first goal of the season, Blackpool’s third of the day for the man from the bench. It was all about timing.

But that is only half of Pool’s performance.

At the other end, Steve Banks was at times single-handedly manning the Seasiders’ safety curtain.

It’s not often a side win 3-0 and the goalkeeper is the Man of the Match. But Banks was more than worthy of the accolade and was already The Gazette’s star man for two crucial second-half saves.

Both were one-on-ones with Southend substitute Andy Thomson, and both came within three second half minutes.

On 68 minutes, when Mike Marsh played the ball forward, Thomson was surely offside. Incredibly the linesman’s flag, which seemed to spend the whole afternoon being hoisted into the air, this time, just when it seemed justified, stayed down.

Thomson was through with only Banks to beat but that’s a big “only” when you’re facing undoubtedly one of the best keepers in the division.

Thomson tried to side foot it, but Banks stretched out his left hand and then made it a double save by pouncing on the parry, just when it seemed it might fall to Paul Byrne.

On 71 minutes, Thomson was clean through again, this time latching onto Jones’ long ball. Again Banks was more than equal to the task, racing off his line to smother at Thomson’s feet.

But Southend had already spurned their best chance of the match and that was without Banks having a part to play.

On a day when everything seemed to come in threes, Pool could have been three up in the first half.

It was an opening period without many clear-cut chances but those there were, were well-fashioned by Pool.

On 28 minutes, Lee Philpott, who started and finished as one of the brightest players on the pitch, played the ball up to Mellon who spread a lovely pass out to Bent on the right.

Bent whipped in a cross to the edge of the area and how often do you see Ellis get a shot on target after receiving the ball with his back to goal?

He was at it again, making room for himself, turning and firing in a shot across Royce only to be denied by the base of the left-hand post.

Five minutes later Bent raced into the area after Ellis’ shot had been blocked only to see his own effort go wide of the goal which was at his mercy.

At the other end, Lydiate was in fine form to get in some important blocks.

Linighan too had braved some last-ditch headers, one such challenge leaving him with a broken nose which forced him to leave the pitch.

Bradshaw was as adaptable as ever switching from left back to cover at centre half.

Southend were finding spaces down the flanks but Blackpool also had Bryan to thank for racing back to get in two important clearing headers from dangerous right-wing crosses.

And the only serious effort Banks had to save in the opening period was a good tip over from a thundering Marsh 25-yarder a minute before the break.

On 64 minutes, it again took the bar to deny Blackpool the all-important second.

Again, it was a slick build-up culminating in Ellis’ ball down the right. Bryan crossed to the far post where Quinn rose to send in a powerful header which scraped the top of the Southend bar.

Philpott headed wide while both Lydiate and Ellis had shots blocked. It seemed only a matter of time until Blackpool made it two.

But at the same time, the longer it remained 1-0, things got increasingly shaky at the back with Banks often called upon as the last time of defence.

On 78 minutes the increasingly hoarse Blackpool bench rang the changes. Preece came on and made an immediate impact, his first touch setting up Philpott who then played in Ellis who bagged the vital second.

And just before time, fellow sub Clarkson made sure he gave the manager his own nudge with a composed finish for Pool’s third. Southend, who came into the game without an away win since November and now having lost all five on their travels this season, must have felt like taking a long walk off a short pier.

For Blackpool? Three goals, three points. Oh, and...three piers!

Attendance: 4,542