Date:Sunday April 20 2008
It was tense, it was tough, it wasn't pretty, but it was three valuable survival points!
Simon Grayson made two changes to the team that lost so meekly at Cardiff. In came Claus Jorgensen and Paul Dickov at the expense of Michael Flynn and Ben Burgess, with the former left out of the 16 altogether. Sheffield Wednesday were able to call upon the services of Deon Burton who partnered ex-Pool loanee Bartosz Slusarski in attack.
The visitors started brightly attacking the North stand but it was Pool who struck first on six minutes. Wes Hoolahan slipped the ball into Claus Jorgensen's path thirty yards out. The midfielder dribbled his way into the Wednesday penalty box and with no challenge forthcoming Jorgensen rifled a low shot which took a wicked deflection past the wrong-footed Lee Grant into the net.
The goal capped a welcome return to the centre of the park for Jorgie who has arguably been Pool's most consistent performer in midfield this season.
Deon Burton then flashed a shot inches wide from 25 yards before Wednesday hit back on 12 minutes. Ref Mr Miller who was quite simply woeful from start to finish blew for a dubious foul midway inside the Pool half. The free kick was swung in by Songo'o and Richard Wood got on the end of a knock down to head home from six yards.
Pool's defence looked shaky all afternoon, particularly from set plays. An inswinging Wednesday corner forced a great tip over from Rachubka who had an excellent game.
Blackpool should have regained the lead minutes later but Gary Taylor-Fletcher could only head tamely at Grant follwoing a perfect left wing cross by Dickov.
Hoolahan, afforded more space than usual at Bloomfield Road, flashed a shot just wide from outside the penalty box.
But Pool went back in front on the half hour mark as Gorkss headed down for Paul Dickov to crack an unstoppable left foot volley into the corner of Grant's net from 20 yards. A truly memorable goal for the loan man who has been the difference between survival and potential relegation with six priceless goals.
Pool were almost caught napping just before the break with Jermaine Johnson's shot deflecting inches wide with Rachubka stranded. Johnson and Crainey had an intriguing battle all afternoon with the full back just about coming out on top, as so often has been the case this season.
Significantly Sheffield Wednesday were reduced to ten men early in the second half with Peter Gilbert given a red card by Mr Miller. The defender clashed with Dickov off the ball, allegedly throwing a punch at the Blackpool striker. Like most Pool fans I was following the ball and didn't see the incident so I won't comment on what exactly happened.
But what followed was five minutes of madness and mayhem. Mr Miller pointed to the spot for a Blackpool penalty before over turning his decision after Wes had put the ball down on the mark. Meanwhile the Sheffield Wednesday fans were berating the linesman and several of their 'fans' were taken out of Bloomers by the police.
Mr Miller was at the centre of the action all the way through and his poor display should be reflected by his MIB rating to come next week.
Pool pressed to make the game safe with Jorgensen firing narrowly wide from distance while Dickov couldn't quite make contact with an inviting cross by McPhee.
But Wednesday looked dangerous as the game wore on with Pool not helping themselves by sitting far too deep, often struggling to empty their own penalty box. I can only put this down to nerves but it is something we need to learn from.
With 13 minutes remaining an out of sorts Gary Taylor-Flecther and tired McPhee made way for Andy Morrell and Stuart Green. It was Morrell who looked to have sealed the points when he expertly finished into the top corner with his left foot only to see the linesman's flag up in the air, where it was for most of the afternoon!
Paul Dickov missed a guilt-edged chance to double his tally poking the ball straight at Grant from barely six yards out.
The away side continued to threaten with Deon Burton consistently shoving Gorkss and Evatt in the aerial challenges. These blantant fouls went unoticed unsurprisingly by the ref with the effect being Burton taking the ball down with ease as Evatt and co backed off.
Five agonising minutes of injury time felt like an hour. Burton had Wednesday's last chance shooting powerfully from 20 yards only to find Rabs in fine form tipping the ball over.
Burgess came on for a visibly fatigued Dickov and Mr Miller put us out of our misery by blowing for full time. Cue relief and delight in the stands and on the pitch. Larry hugged Steve Thompson and Tony Parkes on the bench and even though he won't admit it, Pool are safe now, I think!
The players' reaction was great to see with Crainey and Jorgensen in particular putting Carl Dickinson's antics from last season to shame!
A special mention to Keith Southern who was tireless yesterday. He has his critics, me being one at times, but he was Pool's best player against Wednesday. He was strong in the tackle, passed the ball well and drove the team on.
Elsewhere, wins for Leicester and Coventry eased their relegation worries, while Southampton lost at home to Burnley leaving them in the mire. Anything less than a win for Wednesday at Leicester next week will ensure Pool stay up. Or defeat for Southampton at West Brom a week on Monday would also keep Pool afloat. But we need not look too nervously at results next week. We ARE staying up!
Date:Sunday April 20 2008
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