Date:Monday January 15 2007
For those who read this of a pessimistic nature, this victory leaves us just six points away from the magical 50 points and safe from relegation this year! But, for the first time in several years, the Seasiders are not facing up to a relegation dogfight! The tangerine band wagon continues to roll and we are now back into the play off positions with others stumbling around us. Now it is imperative we cement this position and hold it till the end of the season, or who knows better it!!!
For me this was a workmanlike performance, we were missing some key players on the day and it showed as we were devoid of a lot of the flair we have shown when at full strength. Hoolahan and Evatt showed by their absence how important they are to us, and it was only when Parker came on did we look like breaking Vale down. That said this is just the sort of match we need to be winning, and we did that gaining 3 valuable points. It was a game a few months ago we would have lost, once again mugged by what was a poor Vale team, like we were at Vale Park earlier in the season. However this Blackpool team now doesn`t fall apart, but keep on plugging away - and in recent weeks this is what has made the difference. The biggest plus for me was Kaspars "the ghost" Gorkss. I was impressed with my first view of him playing. For some reason taller than I had imagined, he also proved a reasonable ball player and tackler, frustrating Sodje for long spells. OK… so he was a bit unsure with Jacko and Evans sometimes that led to a few dodgy moments and back passes but that can be excused for his first full start
For some bizarre reason we were told to hang on to our tickets as it "was more than likely to be called off" the well informed turnstile operator told us?? Where this came from I don`t know, thought he rain that lashed down for the last 10 mins had been 2 hours earlier, maybe a case would have been made? OK it was heavy, and a must admit I am a little concerned at the state of the pitch with so long left - hopefully it can be rested and restored as the ability for us to "play football" has been in my opinion the key to our success at home this year.
The game itself was frustrating more than anything. Pool had the better possession, but could not break through the Vale defence - even with "50p head" McGregor warming the bench, the final pass was just not there. Danny Whittaker (No 14) was causing us problems and I thought their best player on the day, but Southern and Fox came more into the game as it went on. Without Wes we needed a good performance from Forbes, as for all Jorgenson`s credit`s he ain`t a winger! Forbes tried… and tried…. but it just never came off for him. Don`t get me wrong I like the guy, but sometimes he just seems "lost" at the end of a run - head goes down and he`s off - but the end product I`m afraid was not there.
Ironically our best chances fell to Vernon….. one a shot across goal, and the other a header from point blank range that seemed easier to score from than miss, and no-one including him knows how he managed it!! For the 2nd home league in a run the Pool goals came after 70 mins, and then 2 within 3 mins. Parker had been on the field from around the hour mark and causing all sorts of problems. Then Vernon was replaced by Burgess, and within 2 mins we scored!! Maybe luck, maybe a inspired substitution, may just be one of those things, but the ball he firstly won then played to Forbes opened up Vale and Morrell now operating out left was there to take Forbes` cross steady himself and bury it.
For me the biggest change in Blackpool this year is once we have a goal lead we want more, something we have been poor at in recent years, and 2 mins later with their heads up Fox ran towards the box and hit a shot that looked to be going to the keeper until it deflected off the keeper and into the net. And with that the game was realistically over.
Now I haven`t mentioned the ref as yet….. but for some reason we always have to - when was the last time we had a referee we thought was OK?? Between him and the East side linesman with his erratic flagging they were very poor!! He started quietly enough, but started awarding Vale free kicks almost every time they got close to out box, and once we had scored this seemed to just get worse. Then, to cap it all, he awarded a penalty in the 92nd minute for an innocuous handball from (I think??) Tierney, after turning down two strong shouts for Pool for what seemed far more blatant incidents earlier in the match. It led to a few tense minutes but with the final whistle we were once more in the play off positions.
One amusing moment… with Hoolahan not playing and Parker only sub the MoM award was always going to be interesting. The sponsors took the easy option with Morrell. For the record mine was Southern narrowly beating new boy Gorkss - though Morrell did have a great game.
Another home game and another 3 points in the bag. It doesn`t matter to me how we play as long as we come home with the goods.
I was talking to a mate of mine walking back to the car and he said some bloke behind him had been shouting how it was the worst game of football he`d ever seen, obviously not a regular over the last few years then.
That just about sums the Pool up at present, some games we may not play well but most games we seem to get the points, and it`s not that long ago were this certainly wasn`t the case.
The specifics of our game mean that we miss Wes for that little bit of magic, but in Southern and in Fox we have the guts and the graft to grind out chances and eventually patience gets rewarded.
Surprised to see KP not start but in a game of a few chances invariably you want them to fall to your leading marksman, yesterday they did but Scotty had one of those days. A shot in the first half that whistled past the post was our noticeable effort before in the 2nd half he squirmed another agonisingly wide. His 3rd chance was a header and I`m still not sure how it never went in from a couple of yards out.
Tactical nous or inspiration on came KP and Ben Burgess. Burgess surprisingly put some good passes together and a flowing move saw the ball come to Morrell who moved inside and shot through a couple of players for the opener. Soon followed by Fox whose shot took a deflection but deserved a goal. We can`t keep a clean sheet and the ref summed up a series of baffling decisions by awarding a last min pen. Hope his correct score forecast paid out healthily.
Like I said at the beginning it was another home game and another 3points. The unbeaten home run stretches into the mid teens, it might not have been pretty but a wins a win, and more importantly it saw us in to the play off places and still only 7pts from the top.
Yesterday saw my first look at Kaspars Gorkss, and I liked what I saw. Sodje is a handful in this division and the Ghost won everything against him. Some timely tackles and crucial blocks had him as the Man of the Match in my eyes at least. Young enough and certainly good enough to ensure that with Evatt the centre of defence looks solid for the next couple of years at least.
Onwards + Upwards
Date:Monday January 15 2007
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