Blackpool Championship memories: Bristol City 1 Seasiders 3

With Blackpool back in the Championship, we’re recalling the Seasiders’ previous stint in the second tier from 2011-15.

Friday, 26th November 2021, 3:00 pm

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This week, we’re at the end of February 2012 when they bounced back from defeats to Everton and West Ham United with a 3-1 win at Bristol City, witnessed by STEVE CANAVAN…

In the first 182 days of the season Blackpool managed a rather paltry three league away wins.

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Blackpool celebrate their third goal at Bristol City, scored by Kevin Phillips (second right)

Somewhat remarkably, in the last 21 days, they’ve doubled that tally – plus hammered Sheffield Wednesday in the FA Cup at Hillsborough.

Maybe they’ve got a new team coach with comfier seats? Maybe they’ve changed the pre-match grub? Who knows but suddenly, Pool are excelling at playing away from home.

At the break, with the home side leading by a goal and the body language among the Pool troops not great, victory seemed unlikely.

The Tangerines had lost the swagger they’d displayed in spades during the 10-match unbeaten run at the start of the year.

It was as if the defeats against West Ham and Everton had knocked the stuffing and the confidence out of them.

They needed a lucky break to get them back on track and, rather handily, they got not one but two of them.

Matt Gilks, as he so often does these days, made an absolutely crucial stop – keeping out Chris Wood’s point blank range header.

Tom Ince hit a free-kick, that even he described as a bit of a duffer, only to see it deflect off a Bristol City player in the wall and loop past goalkeeper David James.

A huge slice of fortune, but it was all the Seasiders needed.

Lomana LuaLua and Brett Ormerod came off the bench moments later, and Holloway’s men went on to produce a performance in the final half-hour that was almost back to their best.

Ince scored again and Mr Reliable himself, Kevin Phillips, added a late third to give the final scoreline a nice look.

Once again Pool had to come behind to claim victory. No one in any division has recovered from a goal down more often than Holloway’s team.

Make no mistake about it, this was a massive victory.

Defeat against moneybags West Ham is no shame but the fact they had been beaten so convincingly, by a team with a man less and a midfielder in goal, was a real smack in the face.

They needed to bounce back and they did just that, albeit with a few nervy moments along the way.

In the first half, victory didn’t seem on the cards. Pool were pretty poor and couldn’t even muster a single shot on target in that opening period.

Ian Holloway again shuffled his pack, making six changes – though many of them were forced with Matt Phillips, Craig Cathcart and Roman Bednar joining Gary Taylor-Fletcher on the injury list.

Kevin Phillips played down the centre, supported by two widemen with pace in Ince and Nouha Dicko.

The boss went with a midfield three of Barry Ferguson, Ludovic Sylvestre and Angel Martinez. It didn’t particularly work.

Ferguson played pretty well, but the Frenchman and the Spaniard looked as if they didn’t quite know who should be where.

It was no surprise that Pool improved when LuaLua came on after the break for Sylvestre, and played in the hole between the midfield and attack.

In my opinion, the Seasiders are much better when they play a 4-2-1-3, as they have done all season.

They have reverted to a 4-3-3 for the games against West Ham and Everton, and the first half here. It hasn’t worked – the more attacking formation is the way to go in my book.

So let’s return to the opening half, though I promise not to dwell on it for long. It’s not worth it, for it wasn’t the best.

Neither team was great, but Bristol City had the standout player in Jon Stead, and it was no surprise that he claimed the goal that separated the sides at the break.

It came on 29 minutes when, after a spot of head tennis in the Blackpool penalty area, Stead used his experience to hold off Danny Wilson and fire past Gilks on the turn from eight yards out.

So there was disappointment all round at the break, but thankfully the gloom didn’t linger for much longer.

In the 55th minute, Ince won a slightly debatable free-kick and picked himself up to whack it in, via a huge deflection off the wall. A fluke, but who cares?

On came LuaLua and Ormerod, and the pair helped change the game.

We all know what LuaLua can do, but how good it was to see Ormerod back – and not only back, but influencing the game.

His work-rate and desire were exactly what was needed on the flank, something that Dicko – who has potential but is far from the finished article – will be able to learn from.

Suddenly the Seasiders were creating chances with a regularity that was alarming for the home fans to see, but there was one big moment when the Robins almost got back in front.

Thankfully, Gilks’ brilliant save – parrying Wood’s header when the striker beat the offside trap and looked odds-on to score – ensured the score remained level.

That miss hit Bristol City hard. Without a win in their previous five games, and slipping back down the table, the home team suddenly began to panic and cracks appeared.

After James had superbly denied Inceand Phillips and LuaLua had gone close, the Seasiders – with Keith Southern now on for Martinez – went ahead six minutes from the end.

Ormerod’s terrific left-wing cross was bravely headed in at the back post by Ince.

The young lad’s second brace of the season, following his two goals in the home match with Doncaster before Christmas.

Victory was secured shortly afterwards when, on 86 minutes, Ormerod fed Stephen Crainey on the left, and the full-back’s cross was cleverly tucked away by Phillips.

There was still time for Alex Baptiste to produce what I can only describe as a triple pike somersault to somehow clear Stead’s late looping header off the line.

Baptiste twisted his body into a shape even Tom Daley might have baulked at. It made my eyes water.

Remarkable stuff, and a truly brilliant piece of defending.

A happy journey home then, three vital points claimed and the promotion charge back on track. A pretty good day’s work I’d say.

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