Round One Knockout For Blackpool
A very strong Blackpool Reserves side took on a relatively unknown - to me at least - Blackburn Rovers Reserves team on a cold monday night. Matt Derbyshire was the only known player in the Rovers team - he of course was a target for 'Pool earlier in the season (reportedly). There were run-outs for first team hopefuls Lee Jones, Marc Joseph, Jamie Burns, Claus Jorgensen, Marcus Bean, Rory Prendergast and Keigan Parker. Not forgetting long-term injury victim John Murphy in his first team back who was joined by Phil Doughty and Adrian Forbes who also made their comebacks from injury - Doughty from the bench.
The Seasiders had most of the possession in the game - in my view - and only lost the match because they failed to make their chances count. Adrian Forbes had a 50 yard volley bravely stopped by the Rovers 'keeper Frank Fielding in the first half - which saw Fielding fly stomach first into the goalpost. Murphy also had a chance in the first half, his header from a corner - towering above the central defender about 4 yards out - found it's way straight to the 'keeper's feet who gathered the ball easily. Rory Prendergast also had a fantastic chance to put 'Pool in front in the first half following a good ball from Adrian Forbes, but he failed to hit the target and the ball ended up a few yards over the crossbar.
Marcus Bean also tried to get onto the scoresheet, his rasping shot from around 30 yards was destined for the top right hand corner had it not been for a fantastic save from the Rovers 'keeper.
Blackburn's chances were few and far between, however they did have the chance to take the lead half way through the first half when their striker was clean past the defence and only had the onrushing Lee Jones to beat. Jonesey pulled off a good sliding tackle but was injured in the process so play stopped for a good few minutes while he got treatment. Rovers also had a few half-chances from distance but rarely posed a challenge for Jones in the Blackpool goal.
The second half saw Blackpool attacking the empty Mortensen Kop and yet more chances not capitalised on. Adrian Forbes had 3 great chances with his head which squirmed agonisingly wide of the frame of the goal, Prendergast the provider for two of them after some good running down the left wing. Keigan Parker also spurned a couple of great chances, and some might say he was his "usual self" in front of goal. On one occasion, goal side of the last defender and near the edge of the 6 yard box, he went down under the challenge of the defender - when some might say it was easier for him to get a shot off with his left foot. Needless to say nothing was given.
Phil Doughty came on as a sub to begin his comeback from that horrific broken leg he suffered last year, although it will be a comeback he will want to forget. Less than a minute into his comeback, a ball was played over the top that he attempted to boot clear right footed, only for him to miss-kick it, with the ball bouncing off his left leg and into the path of Matt Derbyshire - who otherwise had a quiet night - who slotted past an outstretched Lee Jones to make it 1-0.
Blackpool immediately went back on the attack, Keigan Parker having another couple of chances which came to nothing and a freekick that he - as usual - hit high over the bar. The final minutes saw a goal-mouth scramble where 4 different Blackpool players tried to net the ball, but all failed to do so, Rory Prendergast most notably with a terribly sliced right-footed volley to prove he isn't right footed! Keigan Parker had the chance to level the game with about a minute left to go. However one-on-one with the 'keeper, he attempted a lobbed volley from around 10 yards out, only to see his attempt fly over the bar and into Row G! It finished 1-0 to Rovers.
A very good workout for the fringe players tonight and those returning from injury. Murphy and Forbes played the entire 90minutes and showed that their work-rate hasn't faltered during their time away from the pitch. Forbes picked up what looked like a slight wrist injury in the first half, which occurred when he landed awkwardly following a challenge - it was taped up but didn't look too serious. Murphs didn't look too worried about re-injuring his back, getting stuck in with quite a few headers and winning his fair few. The midfield was solid throughout in my opinion. Saw a lot more of Jorgensen tonight and I thought he was a decent player, if a little slow still. Bean also looked like he was getting back to what he was like last season. Prendergast looks like a good player, no matter what has been said, he still has a great cross of the ball and works hard for everything. Only downside was Keigan moaning again whenever the ball wasn't played directly into his feet and he once again showed no desire for challenging when the ball was in the air, instead waiting for a mistake from the defender. Anyway, it was only a micky-mouse cup as the saying goes and, as i said, it was a really good workout for the players who are hopeful of pushing their way into the first team.