Seasiders Surge Sinks Scunthorpe
This game was so similar to our 4-1 win over Scunthorpe earlier in the season it was freaky.
For a large part of the game, the Seasiders weren't at their best, and it looked like a Scunthorpe side full of endeavour might well go on to sneak a point or better.
However, in the space of eight second half minutes, the Seasiders absolutely tore apart their hosts in some of the most ruthless attacking I have ever seen, scoring three goals in the process and moving to within one point of sixth placed Leicester (who have just lost 3-0 to West Brom).
This is more of a home game for me than Bloomfield Road is really - Scunthorpe is just half an hour down the road from where I live. And with it being such a short journey and Good Friday, my mate Luke came along for a first taste of the Seasiders (he's a Lincoln City season ticket holder, and they play tomorrow away at Cheltenham).
It was quite interesting listening to his comments on the game because he picked up on so many things that many of us have noticed over the course of the season in the space of just ninety minutes. More of that later though.
The Seasiders made two changes from the side that beat Plymouth 2-0 last weekend - Joe Martin coming in for the injured Stephen Crainey, and Stephen Dobbie coming in for Jason Euell. The most impressive thing about our team selection today though was our bench - Vaughan, Bannan, Bouazza and DJ... when was the last time we had a bench that strong?!
Going into this game Scunthorpe had won three on the spin, and kept clean sheets in the latter two of those - it certainly wasn't going to be an easy game, but bar when they equalised from the spot and seized the momentum, I always felt that we were going to come away from Glanford Park with the three points.
And my convictions were proved correct, despite the Seasiders looking a tad pedestrian at times bar the aforementioned eight minute period. More of that later though...
Just two minutes into the game the Seasiders' defence was carved open by a great through ball (a feature of Scunthorpe's play - whilst their final ball let them down at times, their front two linked very well with their midfield and troubled us all afternoon, especially as we didn't close them down), but thankfully Matt Gilks was on hand to race off his line and clear.
Blackpool's first chance fell to Alex Baptiste (the subject of a new chant), but he didn't connect properly with his header from Billy Clarke's corner.
Gary Taylor-Fletcher then headed wide, before Joe Murphy saved well from Stephen Dobbie after some great build up play from the Seasiders.
Despite having more possession, Scunthorpe were struggling to create any chances, and it was the Seasiders who went close again next - Ben Burgess knocking a header wide when he should have hit the back of the net. As my mate Luke said at the time, Burgess was caught flat footed as the ball came in - something that happens all too often.
Just two minutes later though the Seasiders were ahead. The impressive Seamus Coleman crossed from deep, Ben Burgess swung for the ball but completely missed it, but Andrew Wright didn't. You have to make sure that you catch this own goal on the tv - it'll be replayed for years to come. For reasons that I can't explain (the official website's explanation that he was under pressure from Burgess is piffle), Wright has struck a lovely volley in past his own keeper. Just watch it, ok? Hilarious, and just the break that we needed.
Charlie Adam then tried to beat Joe Murphy from the halfway line, before Stephen Dobbie then tried something similar from slightly closer range and came mightily close to embarrassing the Scunthorpe stopper.
Two minutes later the Seasiders were awarded a freekick after a Wright handball (which he was booked for). Charlie Adam drilled the ball across the face of goal, but somehow the ball eluded everyone.
Scunthorpe nearly equalised just before the break though. With the Blackpool defence not completely at the races all afternoon, Matt Gilks was forced to acrobatically tip over from Garry Thompson's shot.
Half time: Scunthorpe 0-1 Blackpool.
Reading this, you might think my comments about 'Pool being a tad pedestrian at times this afternoon are weird given the number of first half chances I have detailed above.
However, Scunthorpe had more possession during the game (When was the last time that we didn't have more or as much possession in the game as our opponents? Scunthorpe had 59% possession in the first half!), and their equaliser at the beginning of the second half bears out my comments.
Admittedly the Seasiders started the second period in the ascendency, but were caught on the break after pressing forward.
Joe Martin foolishly gave the ball away on the halfway line with three Scunthorpe players around him, and from that moment on you just knew that Scunthorpe were going to score.
Their attacking move resulted in Ian Evatt bringing Grant McCann down inside the area (Evo was lucky not to get booked really). McCann himself took the penalty, and sent Matt Gilks the wrong way. Interestingly, I have heard the BBC say that McCann may have handled the ball in the build up, but I have no qualms about the referee's decision for the penalty. Indeed, the ref had a good game.
After equalising, Scunthorpe began to look like the better team as the Seasiders began to look scrappy in a game now being played in difficult conditions - howling wind and driving rain.
However, the Seasiders continued to create chances. Charlie Adam cut in from the left and looked for all the world to have curled the Seasiders back into the lead with his shot from the edge of the area, but Joe Murphy made a fine save.
Ian Evatt was then found unmarked from a Charlie Adam freekick, but Evo made a hash of his header at the back post and the ball flew wide.
A long raking pass from Charlie Adam (who according to my dad did not play well today!), found either Dobbie or Taylor-Fletcher (I'm sure it was Fletch, but having cross referenced myself with the official website, they suggest it was Dobbie), who drove the ball right across the face of goal. Burgess should have been there to tap it in, but he hadn't even made it into the penalty box, which disgusted even Luke who was watching Burgess for the first time.
Indeed, Luke summed up Burgess perfectly for me - as well as his flat footed comment, he pointed out that whilst Ben is a Big lad and thus a presence, he doesn't use that presence at all and is certainly not a target man. Indeed, he couldn't pinpoint anything that Burgess was good at and why he was even in the team.
Like me, he thinks that Burgess will not score further down the pyramid because the lower you go, the tougher the centre halves get, and the more they'll bully him. His view (one which I agree with) was that he contributed absolutely nothing today and was lucky to last the full ninety minutes. Anyway, I'm letting my dislike of Burgess detract from what's coming later in half...
As I've just said, Burgess lasted the full ninety. Clarke and Dobbie didn't though, and were duly replaced by Bouazza and Vaughan, with Taylor-Fletcher moving out to the wing.
With twenty minutes to go, Gilks was forced to tip over his bar again, this time from Matt Sparrow. The Seasiders were certainly having possession, but just seemed not sure what to do with it at times. I know that my dad will agree with this, but (perceptive) Luke thought that we were far too slow in getting the ball out to our wingers. By the time we got it to them, the space that they had had had often been closed down (yes, three 'had's' in a row does make sense!).
We did create a gilt edged chance on 75 minutes though: Charlie Adam raced through, and unselfishly squared for Gary Taylor-Fletcher who should have scored, but Joe Murphy made the save. My dad piped up that Burgess would have been slaughtered for missing that chance and was right, but that's because Burgess misses chances like that all the time (I quipped that the ball would have ended up in Shropshire had Burgess got on the end of it... think others thought the same judging by the silence that those trying to start Burgess chants were met with). Then again, he wouldn't have got on the end of the chance (indeed, I think he was miles behind the play... think he might have been sat in a deckchair on the halfway line with a pipe in his mouth and slippers on his feet). Shit, I'm moaning about Burgess again aren't I?!
Let's moan about something else. The car park at Scunny is horrible to get out of, and the ground is that cosy that it was more comfortable for to stand for the game... no? You want to hear about our three goals in eight minutes? Oh, ok then. This is a match report after all...
We needed a spark. Something to get us going again. On 77 minutes, Seamus Coleman provided that spark.
This afternoon was the first time I'd seen him play and he'd done well up until then, but what he did next was world class. After picking the ball up on the right and cutting inside, he skipped past half of the Scunthorpe team before dinking the ball past Joe Murphy. Everyone went beserk, and I mean beserk, even my dad, who normally celebrates goals with a polite round of applause. I have to say though that the celebrations on the pitch beat those in the stand (even though we had the flares...). The likes of Adam went absolutely beserk. It felt like a promotion winning goal. It felt like 2006/7 all over again, especially Shaun Barker's winning goal away at Crewe when we were down to 10 men - you could see the belief and desire etched onto our player's faces. It's the first time I've felt like that this season if I'm honest... I'm just praying that Doncaster don't burst my bubble on Monday.
DJ Campbell then replaced Gary Taylor-Fletcher and showed exactly why we brought him back to the club. First he scored a great header at the back post following a great cross by Bouazza (Bouazza and Campbell don't have link up well, as do Adam and Campbell). Second, he tapped the ball home after Charlie Adam had once again charged through the Scunthorpe defence (which was now parting like the Red Sea), and had seen his effort parried by Joe Murphy.
Scunthorpe did pull a goal back just seconds later when Gary Hooper smartly finished after the Blackpool defence had gone to sleep, but the damage was done - three goals in eight minutes, and the Seasiders had given a magnificent 'Pool following the three points that they richly deserved.
Ben Burgess then had an effort ruled out for offside in the last action of the game.
Full time: Scunthorpe 2-4 Blackpool.