Blackpool's Championship memories: Gary Taylor-Fletcher makes his point against Ipswich Town

With Blackpool returning to the Championship, we’re looking back at previous seasons when the Seasiders were in the second tier.

Friday, 3rd September 2021, 3:00 pm

We’re continuing to look back at 2011, when they returned from the international break with a 2-0 defeat of Ipswich Town, witnessed by STEVE CANAVAN...

Talking about the famous American basketball player Nate Archibald, a rival coach once remarked: “We have 44 defences for him, but he has 45 ways to score.”

With every passing week, the more you can say the same about Gary Taylor-Fletcher.

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Gary Taylor-Fletcher celebrates his goal against Ipswich Town

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Suddenly a man who took a long, long while to be accepted by Blackpool fans is the star of the side, the creative force in the absence of Charlie Adam, the individual who gets them ticking.

It’s a bit mind-boggling then that Blackpool still haven’t tied him down on a long-term contract. Same applies to Keith Southern.

The Seasiders won’t easily find replacements for lads like Taylor-Fletcher and Southern, who know the club so well, consistently do the business on the pitch, and give their all time and time again.

While Southern is doing what he always did, except better, Taylor-Fletcher is emerging into a player who can, with a sudden change of pace and a drop of the shoulder, trick his way past the best of defences.

He has also retained that nice habit of being in the right place at the right time too, as he demonstrated for his goal.

How lucky Blackpool are to have stumbled upon a bunch of lads like the aforementioned duo, along with Ian Evatt, Alex Baptiste, Matt Gilks and Stephen Crainey; figures who have been at the club for years now and have never, ever, shirked a challenge or not put a shift in.

Simon Grayson played a blinder by signing them all – aside from Southern, Steve McMahon can claim that – and Ian Holloway has proved what a fine coach he is by taking the same lads to the next level in terms of performances.

It is sometimes easy to forget that this team, which saw off Ipswich on Saturday in impressively routine style, is largely the same as that which struggled in the Championship for a couple of years.

Thanks to Holloway and Steve Thompson, the same lads, instilled with confidence and liberated by attacking tactics, now look like one of the very top sides in the division.

Granted, they haven’t played anyone of huge strength in the Championship yet – apart from Brighton, and that was the one match they got lucky in – but the early signs are promising to say the least; it looks like they are capable of challenging.

It’s best not to get too carried away, though, for there is a long season ahead.

If someone like Barry Ferguson is injured for a while – and he could be, for he’s hurt his hamstring – then Pool’s strength in depth will be severely tested and things could go wrong.

As it stands, it’s great – a statement backed up by the fact that this is the Seasiders’ best start to a season for 20 years since Billy Ayre was in charge.

Eleven points from 18 in the opening six games, a very nice return and encouraging to know that the relegation hangover has lifted without the need for even the slightest sip of an Alka-Seltzer.

This latest win was impressive but the game won’t go down in the annals as a classic.

I wouldn’t say spectators were in danger of nodding off during the opening period at Bloomfield Road but it certainly wasn’t the most exciting.

The opening quarter of an hour was lively enough.

Craig Cathcart made an important block when Michael Chopra looked like scoring, Brett Ormerod latched on to a splendid Billy Clarke pass but only found the side-netting and Taylor-Fletcher was left ranting and raving like a lunatic after what looked like a pretty nailed-on penalty appeal was turned down.

Then it all went a little stale as both teams quietly tried, but failed, to figure out how to get the better of each other.

Holloway took matters into his own hands at the break, tinkering with his tactics and telling his team to up their game.

They were clearly listening, taking the lead within four minutes of the restart.

Evatt started the move with a raking, long pass to the right side of the penalty area.

Taylor-Fletcher took the ball on his chest and Ormerod curled a cross towards Clarke.

Against the Ipswich side he used to play for, Clarke sensed glory.

He controlled the ball on his chest and fired goalward.

Alas, it was missing the target by miles but no matter, Taylor-Fletcher had – like all the best players – stayed on the move, followed the play, and was in perfect position to stroke the ball into the net.

England keeper David Stockdale had no chance. Taylor-Fletcher celebrated by raising a hand in the air and doing a money-counting gesture – a very public and obvious message to the chairman.

It was game over on the hour when Ferguson opened his Blackpool account, converting another cross from Ormerod.

It was that man Taylor-Fletcher, though, who was the catalyst, collecting the ball 10 yards outside the penalty area and driving towards defenders.

Opponents don’t like someone running at them. Fortunately for Pool, that’s what Taylor-Fletcher is best at. It caused panic and led to a goal.

Worryingly for Paul Jewell, it was embarrassingly straightforward after that.

The Seasiders knocked the ball around like a training session, Ipswich didn’t seem to have the heart or passion to fight back.

It can’t have been pleasurable to watch for the visiting supporters, who, because they had been given free coach travel couldn’t even leave early – they had to wait for transport home.

Ipswich fans must be tearing their hair out, for their team is truly superb on paper.

Money can’t buy team spirit. That is what the Seasiders have in spades, and it’s what Jewell needs to find fast or else he will soon be under serious pressure.

Pool coasted it in the end, the only disappointment the injury to Ferguson.

Matt Phillips, Ludovic Sylvestre and new boy Dabiel Bogdanovic came off the bench.

Aside from giving the ball away with his very first touch, Bogdanovic looked good and it’s easy to see why Holloway believes the 32-year-old could thrive in his system.

There was nothing to be unhappy about after this game.

The disappointment of an unimpressive transfer deadline day seems an age ago.

Holloway’s men are marching on, and looking mighty good in the process – particularly Taylor-Fletcher.

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