Blackpool's Championship memories: Seasiders put five goals past Leeds United

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

Friday, 24th September 2021, 3:00 pm

We’re in 2011 again this week when, after consecutive defeats to Nottingham Forest and Burnley, they won 5-0 at Leeds United as watched by STEVE CANAVAN...

You can tell those that had a tenner on Blackpool winning 5-0.

They’re walking round today boasting about the five-star holiday to Barbados they’ve just booked.

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At odds of 110-1, a £10 stake would have earned you £1,100. Not bad for 90 minutes’ work.

Then again – I may be doing thousands of people a disservice here, though I doubt it – I’m not too sure many folk on the Fylde went for that bet.

One had to feel a little sorry for Simon Grayson, though.

After all, he was a man who did marvellous things for the Seasiders, the fella who kickstarted the club’s rise from League One to the top.

OK, he didn’t complete the job he started, but he laid the foundations. Ian Holloway built a mansion on top.

Grayson must be hurting and then some today after being thoroughly destroyed by his former employers in what was one of the most one-sided games you may ever see.

At least the Leeds manager was given a fine reception by the Blackpool fans before kick-off, and quite right too, for he will always hold a special place in the Seasiders’ hearts, and – more importantly – in the history books.

One man who will also have a place in those history books is Paul Rachubka, between the sticks during the ‘Perfect 10’ run that culminated in promotion in 2007.

How he must yearn for those days again, because what happened last night was painful to watch.

A nice lad who did a decent job at Pool, Rachubka had what can only be described as a nightmare.

The cross he dropped for the second goal was the type of mistake that will cause him to wake in a cold sweat for months to come.

It forced defender Tom Lees to deliberately use his hand to stop Ludovic Sylvestre scoring.

Red card and penalty, converted at the second time of asking by Jonjo Shelvey.

Then he could only tamely parry Lomana LuaLua’s shot in the build-up to Blackpool’s third.

It was at this point the entire Leeds crowd – who had seen Rachubka make some bad mistakes in the previous couple of games – began jeering and booing.

The whole ground then cheered when Grayson told Leeds’ third choice keeper, Alex Cairns, to warm up.

It was horrible, and one could only feel for Rachubka. He might have had a shocker, but the bloke is only human.

He must have wished the ground would open up and swallow him.

To complete his misery, he was replaced at half-time by Cairns, an 18-year-old trainee who had never previously played a professional game.

What a smack in the face for Rachubka. This will certainly go down as the worst night of his career, and I just hope he recovers from it.

However, that’s football. It is why the lads involved are paid so handsomely – they have to take the rough with the smooth.

All Ian Holloway will be bothered about today is the fact that Pool got a much-needed three points.

Even before Rachubka’s errors and the sending off, Holloway’s men were superb.

Right from the start, they seemed fired up and in the mood with the manager’s bold team selection paying off.

He only made three changes, but they were big, big calls. In came Sylvestre and LuaLua for their first starts of the season, along with Callum McManaman.

LuaLua looked every inch the player who used to illuminate the Premier League at Portsmouth, while Sylvestre oozed class.

Hopefully, after being a patient man for a long time, the French midfielder will now get a decent run in the side.

Let’s pause for a moment, though, to sing the praises of Matt Gilks, for in the 10th minute, with the contest still delicately poised, he made a brilliant and crucial stop to deny Leeds’ Patrick Kisnorbo from close range.

It was a terrific stop, encapsulating his form in recent weeks, and strange to think that, once upon a time, Gilks couldn’t oust Rachubka from the line-up.

On 12 minutes, the opening goal. LuaLua got it, following up after Rachubka could only parry Shelvey’s fierce shot.

The key moment of the game was on 25 minutes, when Alex Baptiste’s deflected cross from the right looped high into the air.

Rachubka came to collect it, but spilled it horribly. Sylvestre sent the loose ball towards goal, Lees stopped it with his arm.

Lees walked, and Shelvey, after having his first successfully-converted kick chalked off because the red-carded Lees wasn’t off the pitch, rammed the second one in the same corner.

Grayson’s face on the sidelines was frozen with horror, and no wonder.

Five minutes later, Pool ended the game as a contest, when Rachubka failed to hold LuaLua’s effort from the edge of the box, and Shelvey nipped in to coolly round the distraught keeper and slot home.

Credit to Leeds for the way they started the second half, pouring forward and trying to find a way back in.

They would have done as well, had Gilks not made a good stop from Adam Clayton as he burst through.

The home team got up a proper head of steam and were doing well until LuaLua scored an absolute scorcher to end the revival.

The 30-year-old, who spent two weeks on trial because he was so desperate to find a club, skipped through the centre, and thumped the ball into the top corner.

LuaLua celebrated both his strikes with that trademark backflip of his.

A Leeds fan next to the press box remarked ‘not only the best player on the pitch, the best acrobat too’.

Least the home fans kept their sense of humour, which, on nights like this, is all you can do.

It got worse for them, Angel Martinez coming off the bench to send a defence-splitting path into the path of Shelvey.

The on-loan Liverpool man did the rest to complete a brilliant hat-trick.

A night to live long in the memory of everyone in tangerine; a night to bury in a box labelled ‘Warning: never to be re-opened’ for Simon Grayson or Paul Rachubka.

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