Memory Match: Walsall 2-3 Blackpool, 1980

Stan McEwan was in fine form for the Seasiders
Stan McEwan was in fine form for the Seasiders

Blackpool FC writer Matt Scrafton trawls through the archives to take a look back at the Seasiders' League Cup first leg win at Walsall on August 9, 1980.


Player-boss Alan Ball

Player-boss Alan Ball

Blackpool took the M-way to victory at Walsall to bring a 3-2 lead back to Bloomfield Road for the second leg of their League Cup first round.

It was M for the magic of McEwan and Morris.

Blackpool were saying cheers for a Stan McEwan double, a third minute free kick and a 75th-minute penalty, backed up by a superb defensive performance.

Morris was fouled for both McEwan’s goals and hit a magnificent second goal after 61 minutes to keep Blackpool on top.

Player-manager Alan Ball now has the boost of another triple. Centre half Ricky Sbragia, who was ruled out by an ankle injury on Saturday, left back Gary Williams whose international clearance had not been sent from the Swedish FA and midfielder Wayne Harrison, who is fit after a hamstring injury, should all be available for Wednesday’s second leg.

McEwan’s dream day began a minute after kick off when a glorious Caswell through-ball carved open the defence. Don Penn shot past Iain Hesford but ‘Supermac’ cleared off the line.

Two minutes later, McEwan was celebrating a splendid opener.

Morris was brought down just outside the box and McEwan was saluting the goal as soon as he hit it.

Hesford had to save three times as Walsall used their small pitch to good effect, often missing out the Blackpool midfield and hitting their front men early.

Paul Gardner’s wild tackle let Hart through and no one picked up McDonagh at the far post and he nudged a tame 33rd-minute leveller.

Blackpool were under siege for much of the half as Ball worked overtime to knit together his dishevelled midfield ranks, the defence often looked imbalanced despite the excellence of

McEwan and Jack Ashurst and Morris was the only front man who found any space to create danger.

McEwan missed what would have proved a hat-trick opportunity by thundering a good headed chance over the bar early in the second half, but Walsall were again threatening when Morris exploded back to the scene.

He seared past a defender, swapped passes with Ted MacDougall and lashed the ball past Ian Turner for a superb 61st-minute goal.

The lead was short-lived, Hesford spoiled his earlier good show by being caught well off his line for Walsall’s second equaliser just three minutes later, and Penn’s header looped lazily into the corner.

Ashurst was desperately unlucky not to restore Blackpool’s lead after 70 minutes when he unleashed a fearsome left foot dipper that Turner did well to push over the top.

Five minutes later, Morris set up the winner with with another lighting burst into the box, O’Kelly pulled him down and McEwan rifled the penalty into the corner of the net after the goalkeeper had almost walked round the town centre to delay the kick.

Turner, moving before the kick was taken, guessed the right way and almost reached the effort. But he would have had to eat the goalpost in two seconds to have kept the ball out.

Andy Welsh and Bobby Doyle had half chances and Buckley blazed a free kick just over, but Blackpool did enough to win.

Morris, McEwan and Ashurst were outstanding. Ball kept the midfield from falling apart and Welsh managed to come to grips in the second half.

But there were question marks about many of the other performances and you could see why Ball had made it priority to get pace into the side.

Blackpool managed three goals without creating more than a handful of chances.

Two were set pieces, the other conjured by the magical Morris but otherwise Blackpool could do with more bite up front. Doyle again disappointed in midfield.

I fancy that Ashurst and Williams will fill the full-back spots on Wednesday.

Sbragia and McEwan will plug the centre of defence and Wayne Harrison could come straight back to midfield where young John Deary must be a strong candidate to push Doyle.

Attendance: 5,486