Blackpool in the Premier League 10 years on: Late twist as the Seasiders are pegged back at Blackburn Rovers
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.
A decade ago, the Seasiders travelled to Blackburn Rovers and, as STEVE CANAVAN reported at the time, had to settle for a 2-2 draw….
One of Blackburn’s most notable claims to fame is that Gandhi once spent a night in the city as part of a campaign to boycott British textiles.
Perhaps the most peace-loving individual ever to grace the planet, I daresay had Gandhi been a Blackpool fan on Saturday, even he would have been uttering expletives and furiously banging his head against the nearest wall come the end of the game.
Blackpool played well but threw away three points by conceding right at the death.
Paul Robinson’s long punt forward wasn’t dealt with by Richard Kingson and a home side who had looked almost down and out before the interval were able to salvage a share of the spoils.
Kingson was undoubtedly at fault, though it is hard not to feel some sympathy with him – after all, sharing your penalty area with the giants that are Blackburn Rovers’ players must be like being a goldfish in a lake full of sharks.
Unfortunately, if your keeper makes a decision to come for a free-kick, he has to at least get a strong fist on the ball and clear it out of the box.
Kingson didn’t and the home side took full advantage.
At a time when the world seems to be going up in smoke one way or the other, how nice to forget it all for 90 minutes and watch a glorious feast of football played at breakneck speed with never a dull moment.
This was more like it from Ian Holloway’s team.
They needed to be big and strong, and to produce a performance which showed their determination to stay in the top flight, and that they did.
Cheered on by a quite brilliant travelling contingent of 5,000 noisy fans, this was the Seasiders of 2010, as opposed to this year’s model, which has so far proved a little unreliable and prone to the odd breakdown.
Holloway got his team selection spot on, opting for the familiar, trustworthy figures of Gary Taylor-Fletcher, Elliot Grandin and Luke Varney.
The three individuals above were all terrific, particularly Varney, who has clearly benefited greatly from being left out and has returned seemingly desperate to prove what a good player he is.
Of course, there was one man also back in the side who made a bit of a difference.
How good is Charlie Adam? The lad is so outstanding that it makes me worry what Blackpool will do without him if they do book a second season in the Prem.
His goals here – a penalty and a sumptuous free-kick – prompted the Pool fans to sing: “You can stick your £4m up your behind,” or words to that effect.
A reference to Liverpool’s January bid, of course, and spot on.
No matter how cheesed off Adam was at the time, it shows Blackpool were absolutely right in refusing to let the Scot go.
When he does leave in the summer, as he will, the Seasiders should be looking at £8m-£10m minimum.
If they do get that sort of money, they shouldn’t hesitate in spending a million or so of it on Jason Puncheon.
I’ll admit it: when the manager signed a lad from a League One club on loan I thought he’d lost the plot.
I owe Mr Holloway an apology because Puncheon is a quality player, of that there is no doubt.
He’s under contract at Southampton until 2013, and so will cost if Pool wish to sign him in the summer.
They should try and get a deal done, because for a 24-year-old still raw at this level, there is no doubt he will only get better.
The worry is that other teams who have seen what he can do will now try and nip in and sign him themselves.
That’s for another time though. For now, let’s reflect on a contest that was bossed by Blackburn for the first 20 minutes.
Then a Varney goal was ruled out for offside and suddenly Pool took over.
World Cup referee Howard Webb gave a penalty best described as dubious when he deemed Ryan Nelsen’s challenge on Taylor-Fletcher to be a foul.
It was never a pen but Adam didn’t care, sending Robinson the wrong way from the spot to put Pool ahead.
Goal number nine for the season in the bag, the skipper wasted no time in making it 10, curling a quite delightful free-kick into the top corner after being clumsily fouled by Jermaine Jones.
It didn’t seem possible for Adam to get the ball up over the wall and down again in the space available but he made it look easy.
Varney had another goal ruled out as the Seasiders dominated the remainder of the half, but then a turning point came immediately after the restart.
Pool sloppily failed to clear their lines, Craig Cathcart slashing at a clearance, and Rovers skipper Chris Samba hammered the ball home from inside the area.
This gave the home side hope and they had the better of things thereafter.
Martin Olsson hit the post with an angled drive and Junior Hoilett also struck the woodwork.
It was Hoilett who got the late, sickening leveller, but not without controversy.
As Pool sensibly tried to play out time by the corner flag, Taylor-Fletcher was almost certainly fouled. Failing that, it was a corner.
Webb, not having a good afternoon, awarded a goal-kick to Blackburn.
Seconds later, they won a free-kick which Robinson punted into the area.
Kingson failed to collect, and Hoilett headed in.
Ecstasy for the home fans, utter dejection for everyone in tangerine, both on the pitch and in the stands.
In truth 2-2 was a fair result. A point? Well, Blackpool would have taken it before kick-off.
It is hard not to feel a little cheesed off after being two goals to the good.
Maybe, though, this point will prove to be massive and it is certainly a better result than the one at Wolves a few weeks back.
There Pool committed the sin of allowing Wolves to close the gap.
This result at least keeps Blackburn right down there with them, and, if I was a Rovers fan, I’d be worried.
Even with someone like Roque Santa Cruz up front, they look a team low on morale and even lower on ideas.
Pool are still in trouble, but this performance and result gives renewed optimism that they have enough – just – to book a second season with the big boys.
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