Memory Match: Wycombe Wanderers 0-2 Blackpool, 1999
Blackpool FC writer Matt Scrafton trawls through the archives to take a look back at the Seasiders' 2-0 win at Adams Park on October 23, 1999.
Blackpool fans made the trip down south more in hope than faith, but who would have believed they would have been so richly rewarded in what was real “I was there” stuff at Wycombe.
It was a day when we all expected records to tumble for all the wrong reasons.
Few could have believed they would end up tumbling for all the right ones.
Blackpool’s first league win since the first day of the season; their first away win since that famous day at Deepdale more than six months ago; and only their second ever win at Wycombe.
It was well deserved, too. But it wasn’t just the result that made it so special. Here too was the performance that all Pool fans had long been hoping for.
Without exception, every Pool player gave it their all, each playing their part in an excellent all-round team performance. Any less than that and the Seasiders wouldn’t have headed north with all three points.
For all their clinical finishing to capitalise on two goalkeeping errors to score two first-half goals – the first time they’ve done that since beating Wrexham at home on the opening day – it also took dogged defending, particularly in the latter stages, to pocket all three points.
Keeper Tony Caig had his best game for Blackpool, time and again making crucial saves – none more so than the one within 60 seconds of the Seasiders taking the lead.
Left-back John Hills had his best game of the season, cutting out the crosses which have so often been Pool’s downfall this season and keeping the dangerous Jermaine McSporran under wraps.
Phil Robinson also had his best game for the club, especially in the opening quarter when playing some pinpoint balls down the right to the later luckless Brett Ormerod.
And don’t underestimate the contribution of midfielder Steve Bushell, making his first start and only his third Pool appearance for seven months since breaking three bones in his foot in March.
Without even the luxury of a reserve game under his belt, Bushell came straight back in and added bite to Blackpool’s midriff.
But Blackpool’s man of the match was loan star David Lee – just for the touch of class and creativity which again Pool have been crying out for for so long.
Lee was involved in both goals. His quick thinking on both occasions made sure Wycombe keeper Martin Taylor was made to pay for two first-half howlers.
The first came after 35 minutes of play – although by then 42 minutes was showing on the clock because of a seven-minute stoppage for Ormerod’s sad departure with a broken leg.
Lee was alert to play a quick free kick forward, keeper Taylor came but got nowhere near it thanks to John Murphy’s towering presence, and when the ball fell to substitute Adam Nowland – on the pitch due to Ormerod’s misfortune – he made no mistake in hammering the ball low and hard into the back of the Wycombe net.
Blackpool’s small band of supporters went wild and right on half-time, those same fans experienced emotions they’ve never experienced on their travels this season – the Tangerines were 2-0 up.
Again Taylor must take his share of the blame. It was his mis-hit clearance from Ian Hughes’ long ball forward which had Wycombe backtracking in the first place.
Nowland was quick to seize on the chance and, after controlling the ball, tried to lob it into the empty net from 25 yards out.
With Taylor scrambling back, defender Chris Vinnicombe had the presence of mind to get his body in the way of the ball but his clearance was only half-hearted and when Lee picked up the loose ball 20 yards out, he showed superb presence of mind to curl it in off the angle into the top left-hand corner.
In between the Seasiders strikes, it was keeper Caig who was just as much to thank for making sure Blackpool’s own rearguard hadn’t been breached.
Within a minute of Nowland’s opener, Wycombe came within a whisker of drawing level, Caig pulling off a superb one-handed save down by his left hand post after Sean Devine had set up Keith Ryan only six yards out.
Four minutes later, Caig again got down well to his left to parry a McSporran long-ranger when a Wycombe leveller would have set the Seasiders’ confidence right back to square one.
In between, Phil Clarkson had a great chance to make it two, shooting wide when well placed after being put through by Bushell six minutes before the break.
It was the second time in the game Clarkson should have at least hit the target.
The Blackpool faithful were in fine voice in support of their rock-bottom side, but the stadium fell into eerie silence on 18 minutes when a 50/50 challenge between Ormerod and Steve Brown left the Pool player writhing around the floor in agony.
It was instantly obvious the injury was serious. And as a club doctor, paramedics and Blackpool manager Nigel Worthington huddled round there was genuine regret from all in the ground that any player’s afternoon should end like this.
As Pool’s reigning player of the season, and already a leading contender this time around, it is to be hoped Ormerod can make the speediest possible return.
Considering the circumstances in which they lost one of their most influential players, it is to Blackpool’s great credit that they managed to maintain their standards for the rest of the match.
Inevitably Pool did come under pressure in the second half, but again Caig stood up to it, especially when making a strong one-handed save to keep out Devine when the striker was clean through.
The same player, who was odds-on favourite to christen Wycombe’s new nets before Nowland and Lee got there first, must still be wondering how he failed to score on 65 minutes in what was the miss of the match.
For once a succession of Seasiders failed to clear what initially looked an innocuous ball into the Blackpool box, and when it fell to Devine eight yards out there only looked to be one result.
But instead of tucking the ball past Caig, Devine went for power and succeeding only in blasting his shot against the bar. For once Pool’s luck was in.
Even then, though, they looked unlucky to have Murphy’s 86th minute “goal” ruled out for a push when he latched on to Hill’s perfect cross after neat play by Clarkson and substitute Richard Forsyth.
With Blackpool having got off the bottom of the table at Adams Park, it is now essential they don’t just sit back and watch all their efforts go down the pan.