Blackpool's Championship memories: Liverpool loanee impresses as Seasiders put five past Bristol City

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

Friday, 10th September 2021, 3:00 pm

We’re in 2011 again this week when, after a run of one win in seven, they recorded a 5-0 victory against Bristol City as witnessed by STEVE CANAVAN...

Talking about his own sport, a famous American athlete called Al Oerter once remarked: “I don’t think the discus will ever attract any interest until they let us start throwing them at one another.”

Which is a nice way of looking at it, and accurate too – when was the last time you turned the TV on and thought ‘Ah, the discus is on, great stuff, I’ll stay in tonight’?

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Jonjo Shelvey celebrates scoring for Blackpool against Bristol City

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Fortunately football doesn’t need any gimmicks to make it better.

Games like this sum up just how wonderful the sport can make you feel, or – if you’re of Bristol persuasion – how downright awful.

While this was a cracking result and a fabulously professional performance from Ian Holloway’s Seasiders, the visitors didn’t half make it easy for them.

That’s not the Seasiders’ problem. The only problem Holloway has is to dampen the growing expectation after this result, the first time Pool have smashed five at Bloomfield Road since handing out a hiding to Swansea City two seasons ago.

“Forget the play-offs, automatic promotion here we come, ” said one fella, resplendent in Tangerine shirt and scarf in a St Annes pub on Saturday night.

The St Annes drinker has one thing right – Pool will certainly be competing at the business end of the table this season.

The reason? They have the squad to do so.

The likes of Tom Ince and Craig Sutherland have bags of potential, while there are others such as Daniel Bogdanovic, Angel Martinez and Matt Hill who can step in and do a job when required.

Then there’s the young, talented types like Billy Clarke and Matt Phillips just waiting for a chance.

Add those to the tried and trusted like Gary Taylor-Fletcher, Ian Evatt, Keith Southern and co, and it is easy to see why the club is in such good shape.

Then again it was all about a newcomer on Saturday. Just 24 hours after signing on loan from Liverpool, Jonjo Shelvey had a blinder of a debut.

After a nervy opening 10 minutes when he was clearly trying too hard to impress, Shelvey was terrific, exactly what Pool have been missing.

This result was great for the home fans, but even better for those in the directors box – it meant their ears weren’t tested quite so much.

Usually a quiet and peaceful place, they had Ian Holloway in with them for this game.

Serving a one-match touchline ban for his, shall we say, lively reaction to Coventry’s equaliser last week, Holloway sat in the front row of the box with his wife.

Thankfully, such was the margin of victory, he was able to stay fairly calm and not disturb the posh folk too much.

Steve Thompson, meanwhile, filled in as boss in the dugout and did a splendid job.

He also kept up a 100 per cent record: last time Holloway served a similar ban, two years ago, Thommo led Pool to victory at Watford.

That was an odd game – 4-3, 95th-minute Alan Gow winner – and so was this, for it certainly wasn’t a 5-0 match, if that makes sense.

It was fairly even for a long while, Matt Gilks making one truly world-class save and Craig Cathcart a crucial block, and Pool only really turned it into a rout in the final stages when they scored three goals in the last seven minutes.

In fact the first 35 minutes were a non-event. Then, seconds after Marvin Elliot had a goalbound shot from a corner blocked, Pool broke and scored.

Shelvey’s swerving shot was too much for Dean Gerken to handle and Taylor-Fletcher continued his purple patch by slotting in his fourth of the season.

Gilks made a world-class stop before the break, leaping to his right to prevent Brett Pitman’s vicious shot from nestling in the top corner.

It summed up the day for Pitman, who was on the wrong end of some less than complimentary chants from the crowd throughout – they haven’t forgotten the frontman turned down Blackpool last season to go to Bristol instead.

The visitors brought on two subs at the break, one of whom, Martyn Woolford, wore luminous boots and used a similarly-coloured headband to tie back his bleach blonde hair. He couldn’t have been any brighter had he painted himself yellow.

It was still a real contest at this point, and when Kevin Phillips uncharacteristically missed a fine chance, there were worries that City might get back in it.

Those fears eased when Shelvey slammed in a free-kick from at least 35 yards. As he ran up to hit it, I thought ‘Don’t shoot from there, that’s just daft’.

A moment or two later the ball was in the bottom corner and the teenager was jubilantly running the length of the pitch to celebrate in front of a north stand containing his mum, sister and girlfriend.

Up in the directors’ box, Holloway picked up his phone and ordered Thompson to make a triple substitution.

Bogdanovic, Brett Ormerod and Ince on, Taylor-Fletcher, Phillips and Sutherland off, all to standing ovations.

To say the changes worked would be putting it mildly.

Ince almost scored with his first touch, and after Cathcart had brilliantly prevented Albert Adomah from converting inside the box, the goals began to flow.

Bogdanovic opened his Seasiders account by tapping in Ormerod’s cross.

Then, in the second minute of stoppage time, Ormerod scored in yet another campaign, finishing well after Cathcart’s clever touch from a Barry Ferguson pass.

Less than 60 seconds later, Ince showed skill and pace on the right before teeing up Bogdanovic for number five.

A cracking end to what was an absorbing rather than thrilling contest, and a lovely way to go into the international break.

Holloway has told the lads to have a breather and stay away from the training ground until Thursday.

After that, it’s business as usual – and if I were West Ham United, I wouldn’t be looking forward to facing Holloway’s men a week Saturday and, in particular, young Mr Shelvey.

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