Pool fail to deliver Ince perfect start

Blackpool's Gary Ludovic Sylvestre fires in a shot. Below: Tom Ince with a shot and new manager Paul Ince.
Blackpool's Gary Ludovic Sylvestre fires in a shot. Below: Tom Ince with a shot and new manager Paul Ince.
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Leeds United 2 - Blackpool 0. This season Blackpool have done their very best to end just about every record in place.

Each time someone comes forward with a statistic from the past about a coming game, it’s gone by the end of the 90 minutes.

Blackpool's Tom Ince fires in another shot.

Blackpool's Tom Ince fires in another shot.

It was 40 years since they lost to Middlesbrough, more than 60 years since Pool won at Wolves and Michael Appleton smashed the shortest spell as Blackpool boss.

So when I read it’s been 43 years since Leeds beat Blackpool, I should have rushed to the bookies and put my car on a home win.

Back then it came via a 3-1 top-flight triumph at Elland Road, with goals from Paul Madeley, Jack Charlton and Johnny Giles.

And while on paper a 2-0 defeat last night looks pretty poor, it will have given lots for new manager Paul Ince to work on.

New Blackpool manager Paul Ince before kick-off.

New Blackpool manager Paul Ince before kick-off.

Last night signalled a new era for the Seasiders, and boy is it needed.

There was always going to be a hangover after losing such an influential boss as Ian Holloway; no-one would have been expecting to be talking about Pool 
having a third manager in as many months.

While Steve Thompson battled on well as a caretaker, it was an almost impossible task.

The club lacked stability, which two wins in 10 games proved, and everyone at Bloomfield Road is hoping Ince can be the man to bring it.

While many hoped last night we may see big changes and the new man’s influence on the side, after only two days in charge it was always going to be difficult.

He did hint at changes in the build-up to the game, in the end he made four.

The whole midfield changed from the side which lost at Ipwsich on Saturday.

In came Barry Ferguson, Ludo Sylvestre, Isaiah Osbourne and Tom Ince.

Apart from the recall of refreshed top scorer Ince, the other stand-out choice came in Ferguson.

The Scotsman hasn’t played for Pool since a supposed fall-out with Ian Holloway last year.

But when times are tough you need leaders, and the club captain is certainly that.

Although, interestingly, Alex Baptiste led the team out on the night.

Leeds boss Neil Warnock went into the game under huge pressure from the home supporters – but if the manager was under pressure, you wouldn’t have known it from the way his side started.

Ince spoke to the players about keeping the crowd quiet early on.

The new Blackpool boss was adamant if his side could start well, they could use the tension in the stadium to their advantage. And start well they did, with the Seasiders sharp in possession on a carpet of a pitch.

But it was the home side who had the better of the chances in the opening quarter.

Steve Morrison going close after a Kirk Broadfoot slip before Luke Varney forced a brilliant save from Matt Gilks.

The former Pool loan man met a Ross McCormack cross to head towards goal from six yards –Gilks was a match to beat the ball away.

All eyes were on the Blackpool bench for the start of the Ince era, but it was another new addition who looked the most lively.

Alex Rae joined as first team coach that afternoon and took no time to settle in, spending the whole game at the edge of the technical area having his say.

It took 16 minutes for Blackpool’s first real chance of the game, when the very lively Phillips found space and fired at Paddy Kenny from 25 yards.

Gilks was at it again on the half hour mark when he produced a brilliant double save to deny Morrison and Varney.

Blackpool kept pushing and on 32 minutes came Pool’s best chance of the first half.

Ludo Sylvestre lost Tom Lees at the edge of the box and fired a curling effort towards the top corner, somehow Kenny was able to claw it away.

It was a bitterly cold evening, so fair play to the 400 or so Pool fans who made the trip. At £38 a ticket they all deserve credit – they were never going to get a 
repeat of last season’s memorable 5-0 win.

Whatever Ince said during his first half-time team talk as boss, it seemed to work at first.

Blackpool controlled the opening of the second period, without really creating much in terms of chances.

But in typical fashion Pool found themselves behind against the run of play.

They could only half clear a Leeds corner and, when the ball fell to David Norris on the edge of the box, there was only going to be one result.

The midfielder struck it brilliantly to be fair, he gave Gilks no chance.

A response from Pool was always going to be vital, and it almost came instantly.

Phillips burst down the right and whipped a brilliant ball towards the far post, sadly it was a yard too far for the onrushing Taylor-Fletcher.

Three minutes later the game was over.

Varney flicked on a cross at the near post, Stephen Crainey’s clearance could have gone anywhere, sadly for Pool it fell straight to the feet of Morrison who took a touch and buried it.

Blackpool’s players look like they had the stuffing taken out of them.

But it was the sloppiness in possession which will have alarmed the new Blackpool boss – Pool gave the ball away for too easily.

Ince threw on Matt Derbyshire and Nathan Delfouneso, but in truth they never looked like getting back into the game.

Overall there was plenty for new boss Ince to get his teeth into.

And a big worry is conceding the first goal – it’s now happened in 23 of their 33 Championship games.

Make no mistake about it, Blackpool are now in a relegation battle and Ince is keen on getting to those 50 points and that has to be the priority now.

The Ince era is off to a start, and he’ll be hoping there are better times ahead.


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