Blackpool in the Premier League 10 years on: Seasiders suffer defeat to West Ham United

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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.

A decade ago, Blackpool faced West Ham United a week after defeat to Manchester United and, as STEVE CANAVAN reported, the Seasiders lost again, this time 3-1...

Normally a Charlie Adam goal from a corner would be a major cause for celebration.

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Not here it wasn’t. It’s hard to look past a fourth straight defeat and the beginnings of a few anxious looks over the shoulder.

Scott Parker and Charlie Adam went head to head in midfield at Bloomfield RoadScott Parker and Charlie Adam went head to head in midfield at Bloomfield Road
Scott Parker and Charlie Adam went head to head in midfield at Bloomfield Road

With 14 games to go, and four wins required, there’s no need to nibble the fingernails too much just yet – but the sooner Ian Holloway’s men grab their next three-point haul the better the world will be.

At least Adam was on the pitch and able to score such a goal. At times on deadline day it seemed he wouldn’t be.

No matter how much cash Liverpool or Tottenham were willing to offer, Adam didn’t go anywhere.

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Thank goodness for that, because although his performance was mixed, the skipper’s importance to the club should not be underestimated.

His attitude was great, and fair play to him for that. He had every right to have his mind on other things.

He was the consummate pro here, looking just about the equal of the highly thought-of Scott Parker in the midfield area though Parker, in all fairness, probably shaded the battle.

Holloway’s deadline day business was impressive.

Keeping Adam was crucial. To add four players as well was terrific, especially the experienced and proven Andy Reid, and James Beattie.

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Avram Grant was busy himself, and landing Robbie Keane from Tottenham was certainly a nifty piece of business.

The wily striker helped himself to a debut goal, though he was outshone by the excellent Victor Obinna, who grabbed a brace – his second goal a stunner.

Obinna, who hit a hat-trick against Nottingham Forest in the FA Cup at the weekend, forced Richard Kingson into a good, sprawling stop after a mistake by Alex Baptiste.

Not a terrific start to the evening for Baptiste, back in his favoured centre-half position in place of Ian Evatt: a shock that, with Evatt unlucky to find himself on the bench after the fine season he’s had.

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Mind you, as it turned out, he only had to wait 45 minutes to get back in.

Pool played good football but without creating too many openings.

There was plenty of good football on show though, with Reid, Adam and David Vaughan in midfield.

The visitors played some good stuff of their own mind, and Parker ought to have done better than curl a poor effort well over when the ball broke perfectly for him on the edge of the box.

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Kingson was in action again on 22 minutes, saving from Craig Cathcart, who – strangely out of sorts – had managed to clear a Wayne Bridge cross against his own knee and back towards goal.

If Kingson did well there, he had a nightmare 60 seconds later.

Obinna turned Cathcart inside out, and drilled in a low shot from a tightish angle on the left of the area.

He struck it fairly sweetly, but it should have been an easy save. Instead Kingson pushed the ball into his own net at his near post. Not good.

Would the Ghanaian crumble, confidence shot? Not exactly.

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Two minutes later he caused the hearts of Pool fans to miss a beat, when he calmly produced a Ronaldo-style piece of skill with Keane just a little too close for comfort.

There was a nice comic moment on the half-hour when three West Ham players simultaneously collapsed in their own penalty area for no apparent reason. Surely a little too early for time-wasting?

Actually, one injury did prove to be genuine – Danny Gabbidon limping off and replaced by Winston Reid.

Reid – Andy, not Winston – enjoyed his best moment on 35 minutes, his clever left-foot curler from the edge of the area heading for the top corner, until Robert Green got his fingertip in the way.

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A pity, as Pool conceded a second goal straight after. Keane got it, a close-range volley, but this time Kingson was unlucky – twice saving sharply from Obinna before the ball fortuitously fell for his fellow striker.

Then a breakthrough, and a surreal one at that. An Adam free-kick took a deflection off Parker. Corner. Adam went to take it – and promptly smacked it straight in the net.

Unfortunately, no sooner had Pool narrowed the deficit, they conceded again.

It was Obinna who scored, and it was a belter – his rocket of a shot from 20 yards nestling in the top corner.

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With hindsight, this knocked the stuffing out of the Seasiders and they never recovered.

It was 3-1 to the visitors at half-time, leaving their supporters – who had made the journey in vast numbers – delighted.

Holloway reacted to what had been a pretty wretched defensive display by replacing Cathcart – injured hamstring, but below par for some reason – with Evatt.

It was Vaughan, though, not Evatt, who saved Pool moments after the break – taking the ball off the toes of Freddie Piquionne just as the front man, leaving defenders in his trail after a lovely mazy run, was about to score.

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That signalled a start to a second half that was wide open throughout, but the Seasiders struggled to play their usual flowing game. The blustery conditions didn’t help.

With no sign of a comeback on the cards, Holloway made a double change on the hour – bringing on the heavyweights, Marlon Harewood and Beattie.

The latter might have scored with his first touch, had his volley inside the area not been blocked.

On 68 minutes, Beattie won a free-kick on the edge of the area. Adam lined up behind it with intent, but it was Neal Eardley who took it, smacking a thunderbolt against the upright.

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It was almost a carbon copy of his sole goal this season – against Everton, from an identical position.

Beattie was a nuisance and had a half-decent penalty shout turned down when falling to the floor with Winston Reid’s arms around him.

The ball stubbornly refused to drop in the Seasiders’ favour, and it wasn’t until stoppage time that they tested Green again, the keeper saving Harewood’s long-range effort.

Rarely have I seen so many empty seats towards the end of a match at Bloomfield Road. Mind you, rarely have the Seasiders been so comfortably beaten though.

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A hugely disappointing result, there’s no getting around it.

Heads can’t afford to drop now – it’s up to Holloway to get everyone reinvigorated in time for Everton on Saturday.

I’ve no doubt he will.

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