Date:Monday November 26 2007
OK, maybe not the best game in history, but it was still more exciting than watching England against Croatia!
Team BlackpoolVital - organised by Jack Gaughan (Toronto_Pool) and Martin Bury (Jerry) - took on Team Tangerine-Planet organised by Liam Hague - commonly known as Rocky - on a pristine pitch with nothing but pride...and maybe health if things got out of hand...at stake.
Unfortunately, a terrible injury just a couple of weeks prior to the game ruled Jack Gaughan out of the contest but, not down heartened, the chestnut-brown haired magician took up his position on the sideline, notebook in hand, to guide his team on to victory. His tactical knowledge would in the end, get the result all of us here at BlackpoolVital wanted.
BlackpoolVital lined up as follows;
Ash - 'JC' - Scott - 'Chubs'
'Cottam" - Gav - Maki - Luke
'Jerry' (c) - 'Dill'
The game got off to a quick start with BlackpoolVital shooting towards the clock tower and both sides pressed early on, the moisture on the astro turf making the ball skim off the surface on a number of occasions resulting in tough playing conditions for everyone with slick ball control at a premium all afternoon.
It would be Vital who took the lead, ironically using the conditions to their advantage. A long ball was sent over the top, looking for "Jerry Burgess" (ironically wearing a shirt sporting Big Ben's squad number, coincidence?) but the ball was just too high for the big man, eventually bouncing and skidding off the pitch and into space behind the defence for Drew "Dill" Dillingham to run onto and blast home, low at the near post. A well-deserved lead (not biased...in the slightest!).
Planet were right back in the running though as young Sam Abbott latched onto a low cross from the right wing to place the ball into the back of the net, a real poachers finish, leaving the defence for dead in the process. It was back to square one again at one-apiece.
Vital's answer to Ben Burgess would have a few chances in the first period, most notably a left footed shot from inside the penalty area on the left hand side which struck the outside of the post and out for a goal kick.
Not long before half time, Rocky's side took the lead through Ian, the big man breaking free in the middle of the park and letting rip a pearler from distance. "Psycho" in the Vital goal was almost equal to it, his attempted stretching save unfortunately ended up being parried inside the left hand post and put Vital under even more pressure to produce the goods. As a result, the decision was made to put "Chubs" - ironic again in that he shares the same nickname as 'Pool's shot stopper - in between the sticks. A decision that would, in the end, turn out to win the game for Vital.
At the break, the score was 2-1 in the favour of Tangerine-Planet and Jack gathered the troops on the half way line to talk tactics and have a brief drinks break before getting the 2nd period underway with Vital shooting towards the park.
It didn't take long for the scores to be level once again. Rocky took it upon himself to don the goalkeeper's gloves in an effort to improve his side's fortunes....wrong! Luke Holden picked up the ball outside the area and attempted to lift a delicate ball into the path of "Dill" in the 6 yard box. However he wasn't anywhere near the ball and so the chance looked to have gone. Luckily for Vital though, the ball skidded off the soaked pitch and ended up squirming underneath the 'Keeper's body and into the net. It looked like someone had been taking lessons from Scott Carson's "School of Goalkeeping F**k Ups"! Needless to say, Rocky removed himself from the 'Keeper's position and handed that role back to "Reedo" who had the gloves throughout the first half.
Vital regained their lead from the first half as luck - or was it pure genius? - was on their side once again. Jerry was again free at the back post waving his arms like a madman calling for a cross as "Cottam" broke down the right wing. The ball was curled in, but evaded everyone...including the goalkeeper as it ended up in the bottom left hand corner - Ronaldinho in disguise? Some would say better than good old buck-tooth himself!
Once again though, Planet pulled level through their left winger to make it 3-3, firing home a left footed effort from inside the area before the referee stole the limelight (much like the day before in the game between Blackpool and Southampton).
We can't name the referee for legal reasons (Chris Stanworth...yeah, nuts to it!) but he certainly made a monumental cock-up for the 7th goal of the afternoon. Once again the left winger made a break into the area and tried to shoot from a narrow angle on the left hand side, however he was thwarted by a marvellous sliding challenge from JC - who clearly got the ball - and it went out for a goal kick. However the referee pulled the play back and awarded Planet a penalty...god knows why, but all I can say is he's been scratched off the Christmas card list for this year, and possibly the next five, after that decision!
Ian stepped up confidently and fired the ball home, low and hard right inside the right hand post, sending "Chubs" the wrong way in the Vital goal. Vital were more concerned with remonstrating with the referee than kicking off, never the less the game got under way again a few minutes later.
Some more shocking decisions later - most notably offsides which couldn't possibly be called, what with a lack of linesmen! - Vital got back in the game and it was no more than what they deserved. Maki - impressive all afternoon in the centre of the park - broke down the left hand side, cutting inside and let rip a pearler of a shot from 18 yards, right into the roof of the net.
That goal sent the tie to extra time. Tired legs everywhere turned the match into a war of attrition and neither side looked to be winning by this point. The sides lined up again, but Vital switched things round. With his tactical prowess evident, Jack Gaughan changed things to a 3-4-3 formation with Scott pushing up into central midfield, allowing Luke to join "Dill" and "Jerry" to provide an added dimension to the front line.
It was then that the game changed albeit, again, rather fortuitously. Pressure was put on the Planet left back and he passed the ball back to Reedo in the sticks. Unfortunately for both of them, the ball skidded off the deck once again and ended up sliding under Reedo's foot and into the back of the net to gift Vital the victory.
It was a hard-earned victory though, as for the remainder of extra time, the defence stood strong facing wave after wave of attack with "JC" and Scott impressing in particular, blocking anything and everything coming their way. "Psycho" played well out of position at left back and Ash - despite being a filthy Knobber (guffaw) - did well at right back, his pace and control on the ball were key to keeping the opposition at bay down that side.
After all was said and done, Team BlackpoolVital came out on top in the fixture and Jack Gaughan's tactics were the difference between victory and defeat. His managerial record now standing at 100% success rate, thus putting himself in the running for the England manager's job for sure. If he doesn't get the job, it can only be down to the fact that he doesn't need an umbrella to keep dry, let alone sup water for 90 minutes....or maybe 'cause his hair colour shows a distinct resemblance to ginger?!
We hope this will become a regular event, forging a strong bond between fellow fansites and allowing the members to meet new Blackpool fans they may never have met otherwise.
Roll on the next tie. Up The Vital!
BlackpoolVital Player Ratings;
Psycho - 7 - Unfortunate to concede 2nd goal, more confident & assured at left back.
Ash - 7 - Not bad for a Knobber! Pace to burn and linked up with Cottam down the right hand side on quite a few occasions. A few timely challenges and headers too.
JC - 8 - Very solid performance. Unfortunate (to say the least) to concede the penalty after what was a great challenge, some strong, accurate headers throughout the game and positional play was good throughout.
Scott - 8.5 - Very close to Man Of The Match for me. Good in the tackle, very strong in the air and pin-point goal kicks and clearances that put the opposition under pressure.
Chubs - 7.5 - Fairly absent at left back but came into his own in the sticks with a fantastic double save late in the day to keep Vital in the game.
Cottam - 7 - Solid game. Got lucky with the goal (or was it a shot? Only he will know!) and ran himself ragged down the wings all day.
Gav - 7 - Broke down the play well, linked up with the wingers, good balls into the area and was unlucky not to have done better with his shot from distance in the 2nd half.
Maki - 9 - Man Of The Match for me. Strong in the middle of the park, particularly in the 2nd half and in extra time. Pulled a muscle but carried on battling and scored a peach of a goal to level the match at 4-4.
Luke - 7 - Unlucky in that his control let him down on a few occasions in extra time when his legs tired but was a threat in normal time, his pace in particular causing the opposition a whole host of problems on either wing.
Jerry - 7 - The target-man up front, unlucky to hit the bar in the first half and should have done better in extra time when 1-on-1 with the 'Keeper when his touch let him down and he passed instead of shooting. Otherwise won the majority of the headers.
Dill - 7 - Took his goal well and linked up well with midfield. Some good running from deep and was unlucky with many, many disputable offside decisions.
Date:Monday November 26 2007
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Audio - Clark Had One Eye On Next Season (Thursday March 5 2015)
Stats: Birmingham v Blackpool (Wednesday March 4 2015)
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