Blackpool in the Premier League 10 years on: Victory the only thing missing against Newcastle United
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 snapped a three-game losing run with a 1-1 draw against Newcastle United on Easter weekend as STEVE CANAVAN reported at the time…..
Turns out familiarity doesn’t breed contempt after all.
That ‘win’ word is the only annoying bit. As the sharper ones amongst you may observe from the scoreline, this wasn’t a win.
Only a draw, which at this stage of the season isn’t quite good enough but to have an attitude like that would be missing the point.
The Seasiders were little short of magnificent on Saturday and that is the most important thing of all.
In the last few weeks, particularly in the horror show against Wigan, the swagger and style which had been a hallmark of Ian Holloway’s Blackpool over the first 18 months of his tenure, seemed to have packed its bags and gone abroad for a short break.
Against Newcastle, it was back and then some.
They created chances galore, particularly in a glorious first half when only sheer good fortune and yet another referee with dubious eyesight prevented Pool building a healthy advantage.
Unfortunately, the fact remains that they will probably have to win their remaining two home games to stay up. That’s a big ask but play like this and they will have a fine chance of doing so.
Pool tried everything they could to grab a winner but to no avail. Thus they have still only won two of their last 17 games, but at least they stopped a nasty little run of three consecutive defeats.
Holloway did a very clever thing by picking the lads from last season. There have been whispers that, of late, morale and team spirit hasn’t been quite what it used to be.
So to select 10 lads he could trust – recalling Alex Baptiste, and retaining Keith Southern alongside Charlie Adam and the fit-again David Vaughan – was a masterstroke.
He had a team that was used to playing with each other, liked each other, and so would go that extra yard to do their bit for their colleagues. It worked a treat.
Southern, a player who got stick from some fans in League One never mind the Premier League, was terrific and his presence – and that of the superb Vaughan – allowed Adam to play further forward and cause the opposition problems.
Adam’s attacking play – his shots at goal and his eye for a defence-splitting pass – is the best part of his game.
He did that in the second half here and was terrific, so unlucky with the effort that fizzed low across the penalty box and struck the post.
Holloway should stick with this midfield three now until the end of the season, keep Southern and Vaughan as his two destroyers and tell Adam to roam wherever the heck he likes as long as it’s up the other end of the pitch.
Perhaps the biggest shock in the manager’s team selection was the axing of Craig Cathcart. The young centre-back made an absolute howler against Wigan but Holloway had been expected to stick by him.
Unlucky for Cathcart, but he will be back – he’s only 22 and is one day going to be an exceptional centre-half.
The first half of this game passed in a frenzy of excitement, in other words it was the exact opposite to last week.
Right from the start it was clear that Pool were not in the mood to roll over.
Southern proved as much in the opening minutes by going in for a crunching tackle with Joey Barton, then shoving Kevin Nolan who had come to defend Barton.
Great stuff, and just what the Seasiders needed – it showed they had a bit of fire and brimstone back in their bellies.
Yet it was the away team who scored first, hitting the target on 16 minutes with their first effort on goal. Adam tried to pass the ball to Stephen Crainey but his fellow Scot didn’t read his intentions.
Barton nipped in and passed to Peter Lovenkrands, who let fly from the edge of the area and beat Matt Gilks with an excellent low shot.
Gilks must wonder who he’s upset. Beaten by the very first shot in his comeback against Wigan, same again here.
Pool briefly wobbled but found their feet again and scored, slightly fortuitously, through DJ Campbell on 31 minutes.
Adam’s corner flicked off Campbell’s thigh at the near post and looped over Tim Krul and in.
Well, just about in. Newcastle defender Jose Enrique headed off the line, but the linesman ruled it had crossed. It was a brave decision to say the least.
Replays proved the official was right, but not by much. Clever improvisation by Campbell and yet another Premier League goal – £1.25m well spent.
Pool were immense for the remainder of the half. Ian Evatt, Campbell and Matt Phillips went close, while Baptiste had a shot cleared off the line, again by that man Enrique. They also had three penalty shouts.
Only one, for me, should have been given – Danny Simpson’s handball. Newcastle may argue it wasn’t deliberate but it certainly prevented two Pool players from getting a shot in.
The contest wasn’t quite as one-sided after the break but Holloway’s side still controlled proceedings.
Adam’s left-footed, arrow-like shot against the post and Gary Taylor-Fletcher’s glancing header, after great work from the magnificent Evatt and Crainey, were the best two moments.
Increasingly a ragged-looking Newcastle tried to disrupt the game and play for time.
You couldn’t blame them. They knew they were second best and, from their perspective, did very well to emerge with a point.
A blow for Pool to play so well and not get the win they so desperately wanted and needed.
They are straight back out of the bottom three and can face Stoke next week in great heart and with confidence and spirit restored.
The Premier League dream is still alive and kicking, and, all in all, quite an appropriate weekend for the Seasiders to rise again.
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