Blackpool's Championship memories: Missed chances prove costly against Crystal Palace

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

Friday, 27th August 2021, 3:00 pm

We’re back in 2011 again this week when their last game before the international break brought a 1-1 draw against Crystal Palace, witnessed by STEVE CANAVAN...

BBC commentator Ron Jones once came out with the line: “Well, it’s Ipswich nil, Liverpool two, and if that’s the way the score stays then you’ve got to fancy Liverpool to win.”

Which shows that even the best can make mistakes.

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Blackpool made a big one here, namely failing to take their chances.

Summing up this game is simple: the Seasiders were superb, better than they’ve been at any stage this season, but failed to ram home their advantage and ended up drawing a game they should have won at a canter.

Almost all afternoon Ian Holloway’s team were in inspired mood, pressing and probing, and repeatedly slicing open a Palace team that came into this fixture having won four games on the bounce.

They didn’t look like an in-form side, mind, with a back four that looked, for the first hour, as if they’d met for the first time in the changing room a minute or so before kick-off.

Skipper Paddy McCarthy and on-loan Aleksander Tunchev, in particular, formed a central defensive partnership that was as shaky as a cocktail server.

They were certainly tested, for this was the first time all season Pool have played with real finesse in the final third, finally recapturing last year’s brilliant attacking play.

Just a pity they couldn’t finish off the host of opportunities they created, which is why Holloway is so determined to bring in a striker and an attacking midfielder before the transfer window closes on Wednesday.

We should have known this game would be good – it had to be to live up to the pre-match entertainment.

It was surreal to say the least.

While the usual tuneless dance music throbbed from the tannoy, a group of young ladies who clearly go to the gym a lot gyrated in the centre circle, dressed in Palace tops that seemed to have most of the material missing.

Someone should tell them, they’ll be mortified when they realise.

As this was going on, two blokes stood at opposite ends of the pitch while an eagle – a real life eagle –flapped wildly from one to the other.

By the time the contest kicked off, half the grass had been worn from the centre circle and there was a generous splattering of bird muck over the rest of the pitch.

There wasn’t really – which is just as well because Pool started the game playing some super stuff, as if they were in a hurry to get things done and dusted.

With Craig Cathcart and Brett Ormerod in for Chris Basham and Matty Phillips, Holloway’s men created five good chances in the opening 12 minutes alone.

Ormerod had one shot blocked and another saved by Julian Speroni.

Keith Southern’s left-footer was blocked, then Speroni’s reactions prevented young left-back Ryan McGivern from scoring a stunning own goal, before the keeper came to the rescue again when Billy Clarke ran clear on goal.

Given this frantic start, it was something of a surprise that it took until five minutes before half-time for Pool to go ahead.

It was a beauty. Ormerod did well on the right, before Alex Baptiste and Gary Taylor-Fletcher exchanged passes and – helped by a Kevin Phillips dummy – Baptiste finished beautifully, sliding a low, angled shot into the bottom corner. Speroni, for once, could do nothing.

Reward for Baptiste too, who – for those with longer and particularly bitter memories – had a goal wrongly chalked off on Pool’s last visit to Selhurst Park two years ago.

Palace had one effort of note in the opening period – McCarthy powerfully meeting Darren Ambrose’s free-kick but Matt Gilks making a brilliant reaction block.

Dougie Freedman presumably told his team he wanted better after the break, and he got it – though not by a great margin, at least initially.

McCarthy’s slip on 67 minutes presented Phillips with the ball inside the area.

You’d have put your mortgage on him scoring. Glad I didn’t, I’d have lost my house.

The striker, turning and perhaps disorientated, shot wide. A man of high standards, he’ll know he should have had his fifth goal in as many games.

Ian Evatt then had a shot from a corner cleared off the line by Ambrose. Pool were in control and coasting. Or so it seemed...

After Southern had his nose permanently bent in two by a ferocious Mile Jedinak free-kick, Dean Moxey’s follow up deflected off Cathcart and hit the bar.

That suddenly boosted the home side’s confidence and, for the first time all afternoon, they looked threatening.

So it proved on 78 minutes when they scored, substitute Glenn Murray – always a threat in his Brighton days – poking Moxey’s low cross in at the near post.

It was a bad one from the Seasiders point of view; Moxey’s cross was poor and should have been cut out before it even got to Murray.

After that it could have gone either way.

Gilks tipped McCarthy’s header over, made a fantastic stop from Murray’s header, then made himself big as the same player broke clear but slid his effort past the post.

At the other end, Speroni beat away Ormerod’s header and, right at the death, Southern – in a great position inside the area – slashed over.

It was about the only thing Southern did wrong: the lad is playing brilliantly and his harrying and pressing was one of the main reasons Palace were so unsettled and error-prone for the majority of the contest.

Though disappointed at dropping two points – for it was certainly points dropped, not one gained – Holloway was happy with his team’s performance, particularly the rediscovery of the attacking verve so important to the way the manager plays.

In their last visit two years ago, when Pool had lost 4-1 and been on the wrong end of some howlers from the officials, Holloway’s after-match press conference was a nine-minute rant against Sepp Blatter and a lack of goalline technology.

No need this time. Pool had only themselves to blame for a failure to win, no one else.

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