Blackpool in the Premier League 10 years on: Bolton Wanderers draw was one point gained instead of two lost

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It’s 10 years since Blackpool graced the top flight and we’re retelling the story week-by-week of that sensational season in the big time.

On this weekend a decade ago, Blackpool played out a dramatic 2-2 draw at Bolton Wanderers. Here’s how STEVE CANAVAN reported on the game in The Gazette at the time.....

Owen Coyle and Ian Holloway are managers who worked minor miracles in the division below because, let’s be honest, who in their right mind would have backed Burnley and Blackpool to make the Premier League?

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Coyle did it first with the Clarets, playing in such a style it prompted an impressed Holloway to adopt the same tactics – pass the ball, rather than the physical kick-and-run style often favoured by managers in a bid to muscle their way into the top flight.

Blackpool celebrate Luke Varney's goal against Bolton Wanderers   Picture: PABlackpool celebrate Luke Varney's goal against Bolton Wanderers   Picture: PA
Blackpool celebrate Luke Varney's goal against Bolton Wanderers Picture: PA
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Pool went 2-0 up, could have had four or five, but in the end got pegged back. Gutted, but would have settled for that beforehand, was the verdict from most.

It annoyed me intensely, though, to hear some Seasiders fans grumbling about the team being naive and how they’ve yet again thrown away points.

Rubbish. If Pool didn’t play the way they did, they wouldn’t have gone two ahead in the first instance and they wouldn’t be playing in this division.

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They got promoted because of the attacking, carefree tactics Holloway has adopted, and if they were to change their ways now, believe me it would most probably end in relegation back from whence the club came.

Blackpool, along with the majority of other newly-promoted clubs, are incapable of defending their way to survival. Statistics over the last 10 years show us that.

Most new boys try to shut up shop, but still go down. Don’t get me wrong, playing on the front foot doesn’t guarantee survival, but it gives you a better chance.

So, in short, be disappointed with a draw at Bolton at your peril. It is a great point.

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It goes without saying it would have been lovely to hang onto the lead and take all the points, but it was another glorious afternoon.

Ninety minutes of terrific football. We seem to say that every week, which only emphasises my point – the way the team plays is why this is such a wonderful time to be a Blackpool fan. I daresay it’s not been this good, at this level, since the 1950s.

Nice stadium the Reebok, the first time Blackpool have been to the venue.

Their last game in these parts, a 3-0 defeat back in 1992, was played at Burnden Park.

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For those too young to recall, it was an odd place with half of the away stand taken up by a supermarket. It looked horribly ugly, but on the upside you could do your weekly shopping at half-time.

Bolton and Blackpool were entrenched in the lower divisions in those days, but both clubs have come on a bundle since.

Wanderers rose first, going up to the top flight in May 2001. At that moment, Pool were winning promotion out of the bottom division but now they’ve finally caught up, and on Saturday, there was nothing to separate them.

Actually that’s not true. For a 50-minute period before and after half-time, there was plenty – Holloway’s men were vastly superior, playing some terrific football after taking the lead thanks to Ian Evatt’s first Premier League goal.

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Bolton had started well but the course of the game altered when Evatt glanced a superb near post header past Jussi Jaaskelainen just before the half-hour.

Immediately afterwards Gary Taylor-Fletcher missed a good chance from inside the area, ballooning over Charlie Adam’s pinpoint cross.

It probably brought back bad memories for Taylor-Fletcher; he did the same at West Ham recently but, back in the team after missing out last week, this most reliable of performers had a fine game.

Adam’s party piece – the halfway line chip – twice almost came off, and at half-time, things looked good.

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It got even better in the 58th minute when Pool scored from another set-piece.

Elliott Grandin’s corner was again excellent and Luke Varney’s powerful header was over the line by the time Chung Yong Lee whacked the ball away.

A good decision from ref Mike Dean, who was excellent.

It was the second time in a week Varney’s aerial prowess has paid off – his knockdown for Marlon Harewood against Wolves was vital. Goal number five for the on-loan Derby County man.

Pool were brimming with confidence and DJ Campbell had two glorious opportunities to rubber stamp victory.

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Jaaskelainen saved brilliantly with his foot after the frontman had danced into the area, and then Campbell lifted the ball agonisingly wide of the post after a neat one-two with Grandin.

It seems harsh to criticise because the lad is playing well. The goals will surely come soon.

Alas, the misses proved vital as Bolton, who had thrown on subs Rodrigo, Ivan Klasnic and Martin Petrov, hit back.

It was Petrov who started the comeback, firing a volley into the top corner with 15 minutes to go.

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From then on there was an air of inevitability about an equaliser and so it proved, with Mark Davies finishing off a beauty of a move in the final minute.

It was harsh on Holloway’s men, who had 55 per cent of possession, but hard to feel down.

This game, for the umpteenth time this season, only reiterated once again that Pool are not out of their depth at this level and have a great chance of staying up.

Blackpool: Kingson, Eardley, Cathcart, Evatt, Crainey, Adam, Vaughan, Grandin (Carney), Taylor-Fletcher (Ormerod), Campbell, Varney (Southern).

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Bolton Wanderers: Jaaskelainen, Ricketts, Cahill, Knight, Robinson, Lee (Moreno), M Davies, Muamba (Klasnic), Taylor (Petrov), K Davies, Elmander.

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