Date:Saturday March 1 2008
Coming off the back of last weekend's exploits against Charlton Athletic, Simon Grayson's men travelled to East Anglia to take on Glen Roeder's Norwich team in search of a further 3 points.
With Paul Dickov carrying a knock, Andy Morrell was given a rare start against the Canaries alongside Stephen McPhee, while Michael Flynn, Andy Welsh, John Hills, Danny Coid and Ben Burgess made up the numbers on the substitutes bench.
After no less than 15 minutes, the visitors were in the lead. Wes Hoolahan set off on one of his mazy runs and played a ball through for Andy Morrell who had his first-time shot parried by the Norwich shot-stopper. The in-form Gary Taylor-Fletcher capitalised on the loose ball and sent a cross to the back post for Stephen McPhee to score his 2nd goal in as many games.
'Pool remained on the front-foot, with Kaspars Gorkss, Andy Morrell and Taylor-Fletcher going close as the home fans began to wonder what exactly was facing them and how their team would overcome the onslaught.
At the other end, regular 'Pool tormentor Darren Huckerby presented Dion Dublin - not exactly a favourite with the 'Pool fans either after his 'tackle' on Paul Rachubka at Bloomfield Road earlier this season - with a chance to level the scores, but the former Villa man could only head the cross wide of Rachubka's goal.
Huckerby then had a penalty appeal waved away by referee Rob Shoebridge after going down under a challenge from captain for the day, Shaun Barker, but the referee was in the right place at the right time and play went on.
Not soon after, The Tangerines extended their lead with McPhee's 2nd goal of the game. Hoolahan once again the architect, threading a neat ball through the defence for McPhee who raced clear to slot the ball home past Marshall in the Norwich goal - his 3rd goal for the Seasiders, all in the space of a week!
Going into the break and 'Pool were well and truly in control.
That control continued into the 2nd period as the Seasiders forced a number of corners which unfortunately came to nothing.
Gary Taylor-Fletcher could have made it 3-0 and game over on the hour mark, but the winger could only poke the ball wide of the frame of the goal from the edge of the penalty area.
However, as 'Pool rued a missed opportunity, Norwich would claw their way back into the game. Shaun Barker was adjudged to have fouled Jamie Cureton in the penalty area and it was up to the former Colchester hit-man to score the resulting penalty and leave the travelling fans on tenterhooks for the last half an hour or so of the game.
McPhee, not content with his brace, had the ball in the net not long after Norwich's spot-kick. The nippy Scot netted a Shaun Barker cross, only for it to be ruled out for offside by the linesman. Claus Jorgensen was then also penalised for offside after having the ball in the back of the net. The midfielder latched onto a through-ball from the influential Wes Hoolahan but was adjudged to have been in an offside position when the ball was played.
Ched Evans then went close for the home side as they enjoyed a prolonged period of possession - the on-loan Manchester City striker forced a brave block from Paul Rachubka, but no Norwich player could break 'Pool's defence down and grab an equaliser.
Michael Flynn, Ben Burgess and Danny Coid were brought on late on by Grayson, replacing Andy Morrell, Stephen McPhee and Gary Taylor-Fletcher respectively after their great efforts and the team reverted to a 4-5-1 formation as a lengthy period of added time was played. However it would be Blackpool that would come away with all 3 valuable points and would leap-frog Norwich on goal difference and end the day in 12th place - 7 points off the playoffs (8 points ahead of PNE! *wink*) and very nearly mathematically safe in The Championship. A marvellous achievement from the management and players so far!
Next up is a tough fixture against Barnsley at Bloomfield Road on Tuesday night. Blackpool haven't beaten Barnsley in the league since 1980/1981 in the Old Division Three. The last time the two sides met, of course, Barnsley scored 2 last gasp goals to send Blackpool crashing out of the FA Cup...and we all know where they went after that!
However, with the Terriers sitting below the Seasiders in the league, it is important that the players get a decent result come Tuesday evening - especially if they want to be mathematically safe before too long.
The pressure is by no means off, but having seen what this crop of players are capable of, there is no reason why they cannot pull a victory out of the bag on Tuesday.
Also, don't forget that this coming Thursday (6th March), is the Brian House Charity Event at Blackpool Football Club.
As you know, there is an auction taking place, as well as a raffle and the bars in the Sponsors Lounge will be available from 7-11pm.
One of the items up for auction is a programme from the 1953 FA Cup Final in addition to many more unique pieces of memorabilia.
We have had confirmation from Alan Suddick, Tony Green, Keith Mercer, Dave Hatton and Ray Charnley who will all be in attendance, with the possibility of more 'Pool legends.
Tickets are only £5 and you can buy them from the Club Ticket Office, or pay on the night. Even if you can't make the event, buy a ticket - less than the price of a pie and a programme - and support the Hospice.
Every penny raised will be going to a very worthy cause in the local area.
Doors are at 7pm with the screening of THAT game from December 8th 2007 beginning at 7.30pm.
We hope to see you there.
Date:Saturday March 1 2008
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