Date:Sunday January 6 2008
In fact you have to go back to 2003 for the last recorded Blackpool victory in the fixture - in the League Cup 1st Round at Oakwell - with one Scott Taylor getting both 'Pool goals in a 2-1 win over the Tykes. It's no better in the league, April 1981 - a whole eight years before this Blackpool fan was even born! - was the last time the Seasiders came out on top in the old 3rd Division.
On paper then, it'll come as no surprise then that Blackpool once again failed to come out on top against the Tykes. However, on the pitch - particularly in the first half - it could, and probably should, have been oh so different.
With the opportunity to rest some key players carrying knocks and try out fringe players, Simon Grayson went into the game today without a right-back - Danny Coid was sidelined due to a virus and Shaun Barker of course was suspended. However, he rang the changes and the teams lined up as follows;
Hassell - Foster - Souza - Van Homoet
Campbell-Ryce - Togwell - Howard - McCann
Mostto - Odejayi
Subs; Letheren, Christiansen, Coulson, Devaney, Kozluk.
Crainey - Jackson - Evatt - Hills
Taylor-Fletcher - Fox - Flynn - Welsh
Vernon - Burgess
Subs; Gorkss, Jorgensen, Hoolahan, Morrell, Slusarski.
So, with Stephen Crainey filling in at right back with no cover for him on the bench, it was clear that he would have to last the full 90 in an alien position to him. Non-the-less, the game started and it was the home side that started the brightest, running at the 'Pool defence - Campbell-Ryce (looking distinctly like Adrian Forbes from our position at the very back of the away stand!) was again their main outlet - much like the game on Bonfire Night in the Championship - but all too often his touch let him down and the chance would peter it's way out and into the hands of 'Chubs' or wind up at the feet of a 'Pool defender to start the counter.
Despite this, the Yorkshire side still forced a few chances, most of which were either straight at the 'Pool shot-stopper or flashing wide of the post. No harm done in the end.
The Tangerines - backed by 1275 travelling fans, noisy from the outset - fought back, however. John Hills flashing 2 shots toward goal (OK, the first of which went out for a throw-in...) and other chances put the home side on the back foot as they tried in vain to test Rachubka between the sticks in front of the away fans. Ben Burgess also went close from a header inside the 6 yard box from a John Hills cross, unfortunately for the big man, his movement was superb to get in front of the defender, but his header was ever so slightly high and wide of the Reds' goal.
In the end, it would be Blackpool that would take a deserved lead. Gary Taylor-Fletcher made his way to the by-line inside the penalty area and somehow managed to pull the ball back into the 6 yard box for David Fox to fire home into the back of the Barnsley net, sending the 'Pool fans into raptures and the home fans...errm...even more silent than they had been???
It could have been two to the Seasiders not long after. That man wearing the number 12 again made a run from inside the centre circle with the ball, ghosting his way past 4 defenders in the process and getting a shot off on goal. Unfortunately, after all the effort, his shot flashed just wide of the post. The striker-cum-winger has certainly upped his game in recent weeks - most notably against the Dingles in mid-week - and seems to be playing with much more confidence then when he joined the club.
Once again, Barnsley pressed for an equaliser but going into the half-time break, the Seasiders were in the lead and seemingly in control of the game.
The break though, brought about a change for each side. Taylor-Fletcher must have picked up a knock during the first half as he was replaced by the versatile Claus Jorgensen on the right hand side and more surprisingly, Barnsley's backup 'Keeper Kyle Letheren - making his debut incidentally - came on to replace Muller and instantly got stick from the travelling fans for being a dodgy 'Keeper...a nice introduction I thought! He lived up to the dodgy name almost straight away, hoofing a pass-back clear...20 yards away from the corner flag out for a throw-in. Much to the delight of the 'Pool fans of course!
Despite this, Barnsley would have the lion's share of chances in the early exchanges. They almost forced an equaliser on 73 minutes, well...they would have done had Devaney's volley not ended up in Row Z following a poor clearance from a Coulson cross.
2 minutes later, Wes Hoolahan and Andy Morrell were brought on to provide a more attacking impetus, replacing Andy Welsh and Scott Vernon - neither really making any impact on the game. Once again though, this backfired on the 'Pool manager. Trying to be pro-active, it turned against the Seasiders as a Howard cross was whipped into the area and awful defending gave Stephen Foster the chance to back-heel the ball into the 'Pool net to wake up the home fans and turn them to chanting to spur on their team - a novel idea, I'm sure you'll agree.
3 minutes later, it was all over. Howard played a through ball for Coulson who bore down on goal with Crainey for company. The youngster managed to shrug off the makeshift right-back and slotted home past the on-rushing Paul Rachubka and once again the home fans put down their blankets and flasks and got behind the team.
Never has the song "you only sing when you're winning!" been so apt!
So, it was left for Barnsley to wind down the clock - blatant time-wasting from a Barnsley player hoofing the ball into the stands following a decision against them for a throw-in went un-punished, for some reason - and they ran out victorious once again, true to the form book, leaving the visiting fans to scratch their heads in disbelief at what they had just witnessed.
Stephen Crainey had probably his worst game in a Tangerine shirt, but shouldn't be called on it. Out of position on the right hand side, having to bring the ball onto his left foot, it was clear from the off that he might struggle - particularly with balls played forward.
Vernon was ineffective at times, he had the right ideas but they just didn't come off and he was rightly replaced.
Gary Taylor-Fletcher was clearly our best player and man of the match for the Seasiders in the first half, had he not been forced to come off at half time, who knows whether the result would have been different. Our main attacking outlet in the first 45 and we seemed to lose that urgency to get forward in the 2nd period.
The priority must now be to get back to winning ways against Charlton this coming weekend. Also, with the re-opening of the transfer window, it is clear the the defence also needs strengthening. Gorkss and Jackson are both currently on 4 bookings each, if they both get suspended at the same time, we're in trouble. If the rumours about John Hills are true and he is indeed off in this window, we also need a backup left back, not to mention a conventional right-winger - allegedly being sought by Larry at this moment in time - a back-up 'Keeper (sorry Rhys, well...sorry-ish?) and of course a goalscorer or two.
Get that sorted...and we can expect to finish mid-table - if the standard of performance is that of the Burnley game from now 'till the end of the season that is....
Date:Sunday January 6 2008
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