Blackpool in the Premier League 10 years on: Tottenham point sets up Bolton Wanderers clash nicely
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.
This weekend a decade ago, the Seasiders drew 1-1 at Tottenham Hotspur after being a minute away from victory as STEVE CANAVAN reported at the time…..
Near White Hart Lane there is a blue plaque on a house bearing the name Luke Howard.
It’s one of those things you walk past and briefly think ‘wonder who he is?’ which is a shame because Tottenham resident Mr Howard was the bloke who gave us clouds.
He didn’t invent them obviously. He classified them into three categories as well as a series of intermediate and compound modifications.
If Mr Howard was alive and kicking today, he’d describe the current outlook for Blackpool as a little overcast with definite rays of sunshine breaking through – and much better than the storm clouds gathering just a few short weeks ago.
The last three games have put paid to that. Pool have been terrific in each and Ian Holloway and his players can quite rightly head into next week’s penultimate ding-dong of this quite fantastic season in confident mood.
What a day it was. A glorious football match; edge-of-the-seat excitement, penalty miss, penalty conversion, striker tantrum and, most importantly of all, a terrific outcome.
The Seasiders probably deserved three points for the sheer effort and fight they displayed over the 90 minutes – but it was a good point nevertheless.
Psychologically it is huge too. That’s now three games unbeaten – what a time to hit form.
Of course, the Seasiders still have to beat Bolton on Saturday, but let’s worry about that later.
This was a magnificent afternoon, Holloway’s men written off by all and sundry, yet delivering a wonderful performance and giving Tottenham the fright of their lives.
Their passing football was evident from the start. They took Tottenham on at their own game. It led to a brilliantly dynamic and open, exciting encounter.
Had Jermain Defoe not popped up with a trademark goal in the final minute, we’d be talking about a win that would – in light of what’s at stake – have topped any other this year.
It is no coincidence that there has been a marked upturn in the Seasiders’ fortunes since the manager returned to his tried and trusted.
Again on Saturday, 10 of the starting 11 were from last season’s Championship campaign.
Bringing back Keith Southern in midfield and Alex Baptiste at the heart of the defence has been a masterstroke.
The only exception was Sergei Kornilenko, brought in to give Matt Phillips a breather.
Kornilenko did well but he’s blatantly lacking match fitness and it was no surprise when he made way at half-time for Jason Puncheon.
Spurs had the lion’s share of possession first half, but the visitors – cheered on by fantastic support – had the best two chances.
They came within 60 seconds of each other. Charlie Adam’s rasping 23rd-minute volley was somehow kept out by Heurelho Gomes.
Moments later, Adam put a corner on to the head of the unmarked Kornilenko but the striker headed over from six yards.
Holloway must have been delighted at the break, while Harry Redknapp frustrated.
The Tottenham boss obviously let his team know because his troops started the second period like a house on fire.
Redknapp’s decision to replace Roman Pavlyuchenko with Aaron Lennon helped.
Lennon almost created a goal straight away, tearing down the right and putting Rafael van der Vaart through.
The Dutchman – not half as effective now as he was at the start of the campaign – shot wastefully over.
From then, until the hour mark, Tottenham were flying.
Gareth Bale twice came close, Luka Modric headed too high, and Matt Gilks saved van der Vaart’s chip.
Admittedly David Vaughan shot narrowly wide for Pool, but it seemed as though it was a matter of time before the home side went ahead.
Then, on the hour, Adam mistimed a tackle on Bale and the game stopped for six minutes while the Welshman received treatment.
What isn’t in doubt is that the stoppage in play helped Pool immensely.
It allowed them to regroup and, when play resumed, Tottenham couldn’t get their game going again.
The Seasiders grew in confidence and scored after a frantic few minutes of pressure.
First, set up perfectly by Southern, DJ Campbell shot straight at Gomes from point-blank range, the keeper turning the ball behind.
From the corner, Spurs skipper Michael Dawson handled. Penalty.
Adam grabbed the ball, as he always does, but Gomes pulled off a fine stop, tipping the skipper’s shot around the post.
Here’s where Adam deserves huge credit. He didn’t spend 60 seconds with head in hands, bemoaning his miss like some big drama queen.
He ran straight to the corner flag and whipped the ball back into the danger area.
Gomes was still pumped up from his save and, high on adrenaline, lunged at Gary Taylor-Fletcher – a slightly soft penalty, but, hey, how many have Pool not been given?
The fun didn’t end here. Adam charged 50 yards down the pitch to grab the ball.
Campbell tried to wrestle it off him but Adam was having none of it.
If he’d missed again he would have looked a right plonker.
No danger of that. Bang, down the centre. Gomes didn’t have a prayer.
Meanwhile, Campbell was still fuming and shoved away Ian Evatt and Stephen Crainey, who had gone to give him a consoling pat on the back.
To still be sulking after his team had scored a goal to lead 1-0 at Tottenham and stand on the verge of a result that could have a massive bearing on their Premier League future? Strange to say the least.
Puncheon then missed a great chance, which proved costly.
With 60 seconds of normal time remaining, Defoe got a yard or two of space on the edge of the area and smacked a low right-footed shot into the bottom corner.
Puncheon could have won it at the end of six long minutes of stoppage time, with Pool breaking and almost catching the home side with their pants down, but it wasn’t to be.
A point will do nicely though and what a game it will now be against Bolton.
If they play half as well against Bolton as they did at White Hart Lane, Pool will win.
If they do, a second season of top flight football, as well as one of the most remarkable tales in modern-day football, will almost be secured.
Fingers crossed, it’s going to be a hell of a fortnight.
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