Blackpool's Championship memories: Second-half goals help the Seasiders defeat Doncaster Rovers

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

Friday, 17th September 2021, 3:00 pm

We’re in 2011 again this week when they bounced back from defeat at West Ham United with a 2-1 defeat of Doncaster Rovers, as seen by STEVE CANAVAN...

What a difference a last-minute thunderbolt into the top corner from 25 yards makes.

Prior to Tom Ince’s moment of genius, Blackpool fans were a little bit downhearted, sort of satisfied with the draw they were about to get, after witnessing a largely mediocre display from their team, but a little disappointed to have missed out on three points.

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Then up stepped Ince, firing home a beauty to enliven a game that was far from a classic but – thanks to his intervention – turned out to be a more than worthwhile way to pass the evening.

At half-time there was absolutely nothing funny about events at Bloomfield Road.

On the back of a horrid tonking at West Ham, Pool were 1-0 down to their third-bottom visitors, and playing pretty badly in a game they really needed to get something from.

Thank the Lord, then, for a second-half triple substitution. That got Ince on the pitch and the boy wonder did the rest.

My only complaint is that he left it so late. Could you not score the winner a bit sooner next time son, and allow us all to relax a bit sooner?

Ince has to start against Nottingham Forest now. The lad has looked a real player every time he’s been on the pitch.

He may only be 19, but he has that wonderful fearlessness and the priceless ability to run at opponents and cause them problems.

Speaking of which, Ian Holloway might have found someone else who can do that in the shape of Callum McManaman.

He was also brought off the bench and did exactly what his manager wanted him to – beat defenders and got shots off.

He and Ince were the catalyst for the comeback. They added zest, enthusiasm and creativity, whereas before there had been none of it.

Holloway made four changes to the team, bringing in Neal Eardley and the fit-again Craig Cathcart at the back and changing two of the front three, opting for Daniel Bogdanovic and Brett Ormerod.

The latter, by the by, celebrated his 35th birthday yesterday. On a difficult evening for the frontmen, Ormerod didn’t have much to celebrate.

The less said about the first half the better really.

In fairness, the weather didn’t help. No one wants bad wind and at Bloomfield Road it is particularly unwanted, as it swirls in off the sea and around the ground.

It played havoc with Pool’s attempts to play their trademark long diagonal passes, the ball flying out of play on numerous occasions, Jonny Wilkinson-style.

For the most part, Pool sensibly tried to play their football on the floor, but just like at West Ham, they struggled to create any real clear cut openings.

It is a problem Holloway is well aware of. He knows his team aren’t as good going forward as they used to be. They can’t be – they’ve lost Charlie Adam, DJ Campbell and David Vaughan, not to mention Luke Varney and Jason Puncheon.

Holloway can’t afford, or, put more accurately, isn’t allowed to bring in big-money replacements, so he has had to deal in the bargain bin a little.

It doesn’t take a genius to work out that because of that, there was always a risk this season was going to be tougher than the previous two years.

Doncaster weren’t brilliant either first half, but in Billy Sharp they have a striker of genuine quality and, like John Carew at West Ham, he initially proved the difference.

He put Rovers ahead 25 minutes in with a pure poacher’s goal, in the right place at the right time to divert Giles Barnes’ shot past Matt Gilks and into the net.

It was frustrating on two counts: one, Barnes’ shot was going miles wide, and, two, Gilks had just made a good, sharp stop from Kyle Bennett and it looked as if the danger was gone.

Sharp had earlier come close when he hooked a half-volley narrowly over the bar and Bennett shaved the upright with a fine effort from distance.

Pool had three efforts of note, Gary Taylor-Fletcher blasting over early on, Cathcart failing to put a free header on target and Ormerod dragging his shot across the face of goal.

Thankfully, the second period cheered everyone up. Eventually.

After seeing little improvement in the opening 10 minutes of the half, Holloway took drastic action and replaced Bogdanovic, Ormerod and Jonjo Shelvey with Kevin Phillips, McManaman and Ince.

Many in the crowd booed the decision to take off Shelvey, understandable as he had looked one of the brighter performers.

Given the man that replaced him was Ince, it is hard to grumble too much with the manager’s decision. Holloway definitely had the last laugh on that one.

Ince first struck on 63 minutes, latching onto Taylor-Fletcher’s pass, cutting inside a defender and curling the ball into the bottom corner. It was a delightfully cool finish for a teenager.

The next shot on target came from Doncaster, and it proved the key moment of the match.

Bennett’s delightful reverse pass left Sharp with just Gilks to beat.

You’d have put money on Sharp scoring but Gilks, in sublime form at the moment, made a terrific save. It changed the course of the game.

With the Seasiders playing better with the subs on, Phillips was denied by a fine Neil Sullivan save, while McManaman also warmed the keeper’s fingers.

In the 94th minute, with the contest poised to end all square, Ince picked up the ball with seemingly nothing on, and raised the rafters with a terrific pinpoint shot which left Sullivan grasping thin air.

An inspired moment, and though it was dreadfully harsh on a Doncaster side that played well, Holloway, Ince and the Blackpool fans will care little about that today.

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