Memory Match: Oxford United 0-2 Blackpool, 1980
Matt Scrafton trawls through the archives to take a look back at Blackpool's 2-0 win away at Oxford United on November 8, 1980.
Blackpool graduated with honours at Oxford after looking like being sent down early on.
Professor Alan Ball taught Oxford a lesson with two second-half penalties and found plenty of willing pupils in his class.
Blackpool were caning Oxford in the last 15 minutes, but in the first half hour it was Blackpool who were caught with their pants down.
Much-changed Blackpool, with Hesford, Sbragia, Greenall, Doyle and Pashley replacing Rush, McEwan, Simmonite, Brockbank and Bamber, took time to settle into a completely new system.
Blackpool had lost their last four games, Oxford had not won at home, so it was always going to be a grim struggle.
Late tackles and trailing feet showed the extent of Oxford’s desperation and their intimidation upset Blackpool early on.
Shotton, Jeffrey twice, and Cooke missed good chances. Jackie Ashurst cleared off the line from Foley and Iain Hesford made a brilliant save from Cooke that probably turned the game Blackpool’s way.
Most of Blackpool’s early wounds were self-inflicted by dozy defending and their only break in that hectic spell came from Willie Morgan, having a fine match.
He beat three men and his show flew just over. Now Blackpool broke with more confidence and cohesion as the players got used to the new system.
Dave Hockaday should have been through for a goal on the end of a gorgeous Ball through pass and Terry Pashley and Colin Morris had shots blocked.
Morris missed the best chance, failing to find power when Bobby Doyle set him up.
Blackpool controlled the last 15 minutes of the half and most of the second, as they found it increasingly easier.
A flexible system, with Pashley and Doyle in midfield, Doyle pushing into attacking positions and Morgan roaming between the two front departments, brought Blackpool eight second half chances to Oxford’s two.
Having the superb Colin Greenall alongside the experience of Ricky Sbragia, with Ashurst sweeping up from right back, bolstered the defence.
Whichever department Blackpool worked in, the system gave them men in support.
Blackpool’s confidence soared after Ball put them ahead from a penalty five minutes into the second half – his first goal since rejoining the club.
Morgan and Doyle worked a quick free kick, Doyle scythed into the box and was hacked down, Ball rifling home his low spot kick.
Blackpool’s only scare was when Gary Williams headed off the line from Shotton 20 minutes after Ball’s opener.
Blackpool were finally rewarded for their dominance with two minutes of the game remaining. Hockaday’s cross was handled and Ball arrogantly swept a high penalty over Burton’s sprawling dive.
Blackpool were moving off the ball well and finding their old touch and confidence and the lesson was there for all the players to see.
They were only able to turn it on as a result of their grim battling when the pressure was against them early on.
Hesford, apart from a couple of signs of rust, was in dominant form on his comeback from a four-game absence.
After early problems when the excellent Ashurst worked hard to cover some cracks, Sbragia, Greenall and Williams settled impressively. Greenall especially deserves praise for another magnificent performance.
Morgan had a terrific first half and a fine match, bringing touch, control and creative purpose to the Blackpool side.
Pashley and Doyle worked hard, Doyle creating more than he had for a long time.
Ball had a splendid second half, orchestrating the flow of Blackpool’s attacks. Hockaday’s control and workrate in the second half led the attack and together and enabled Morgan to find his way back to form.
Doyle was unfortunate to be booked when Brock dived in a tackle, Brock paid it back by stupidly kicking the ball away.
Cooke was lucky he was only booked for a second crude foul on Hesford. He could have been booked for any one of half a dozen tackles.