Vital View: Seasiders Smash Stoke
Prior to yesterday, the last time Blackpool played Stoke in the top flight was April 1971. That same month, The Two Ronnies made their tv debut. Yesterday, it was the Seasiders who had the last laugh.
The 'Pool took the game to their hosts, restricting them to a horrible long ball game (that saw the Stoke faithful turn on the home team early in the first half), whilst themselves playing the great passing game that we've come to expect.
The Britannia held bad memories for 'Pool manager Ian Holloway prior to yesterday; it was the ground where he was relegated with Leicester City. However, that particular monkey was shed yesterday, with Ollie getting one over on his mate Tony Pulis with a convincing victory.
Ollie kept faith with the side that had drawn at Bolton two weeks previously, and they did him proud.
There was a pre-match tribute to Sir Stanley Matthews, but there is no doubt which side that Sir Stan would have preferred to be on yesterday; the blue stripes of Blackpool.
I seem to remember that in the 06/07 season our 'Latvian third kit' became our lucky kit... could our new blue number have replaced it?
Either way, there was little luck involved in the Seasiders' win yesterday as they played their opposition off the park.
Stoke get a rough service from people who label them as 'long ball' as there is more to them than that... well, there is if you ignore yesterday!
Time and time again Stoke only threatened from rugby esque hoiks up the field, or from throw ins or corners.
In contrast, the Seasiders stroked the ball around whilst dealing bravely - if not a little nervously at times - with Stoke's aeriel bombardment.
Although the final score was only 1-0 and the hosts did have chances, there was little doubt from either set of supporters that the Seasiders totally outclassed their hosts and deserved the win (I know we played well because P. Moore thought we did... and you all know how pessimistic he normally is! ;)). Lest we forget that the Britannia is a very difficult place to go and you don't win there without playing well.
As pundits on Radio 5 said after the game, the Seasiders really do need to be taken seriously... something the likes of the clueless Mark Lawrenson on Match of the Day would do well to remember.
However, gripes aside, to the action...
DJ Campbell had the first real chance of the afternoon, but he could only drag his volley carelessly wide after Stoke had scrambled a wonderful 'Pool attack clear.
At the other end, Preston reject Ricardo Fuller crashed an effort against the bar with Richard Kingson beaten. The woodwork was to get a good work out at either end during the course of the afternoon.
'Pool continued to flood forward however, and Elliot Grandin should have opened the scoring after being found wide open by a wonderful pass by Charlie Adam. However, the Frenchman's heavy touch allowed Stoke to recover and clear their lines. Nevertheless, this was Grandin's best performance in a 'Pool shirt yet.
David Vaughan fired over the bar after another great move from the Seasiders, whilst a cross along the Stoke six yard box found nobody.
At the other end Stoke continued to fashion half chances, and actually had a goal (correctly) disallowed for a push on Kingson.
The decision to rule out the goal was one of the few decisions referee Anthony Taylor got right over the course of the afternoon. He was booed off by both sets of fans at half time, with the 'Pool camp especially furious at the yellow card dished out to Charlie Adam for heading the ball. Yes, you did read that right! The booking was made worse by the fact that no Stoke players entered the book, despite a couple of very heavy challenges.
Nevertheless, Taylor was at least better than his hapless linesman who played on on several occasions despite the ball going out of play!
Just minutes after the restart, 'Pool were ahead.
Stoke broke forward, but their attack broke down, and the Seasiders counter attacked beautifully.
Charlie Adam's great ball found Luke Varney, before Varney passed back to the Scot (who had made a run that ripped the Stoke defence apart). Captain Marvel's shot was mishit, but DJ Campbell was on hand to poke the ball home.
You could see how much the goal meant to the lad, and as they say; form is temporary, class is permanent.
Stoke continued to pump the ball forward, but it was the Seasiders who were enjoying the better of the play.
Gary Taylor-Fletcher rattled the crossbar with a wonderful header from an Adam freekick, whilst Ian Evatt failed to connect properly with a header from just a yard out.
At the other end, Stoke rattled the woodwork again; this time through a Matthew Etherington freekick.
Richard Kingson was kept busy with high balls into the area. He didn't always look confident, but between him and his valiant defence, they managed to clear the ball away time and again.
At the other end though, 'Pool still looked to attack. Matt Phillips (on for Grandin) caused all sorts of problems with his pace, and had a cross-cum-shot tipped over the bar by Asmir Begovic.
The last chance of the game fell to Stoke and summed up their afternoon; a powerful effort blocked on the line by Neal Eardley.
Twenty two points on the board after sixteen games, leaving us a probably six wins from twenty two games to stay up. This really is the best trip we've ever been on...
Richard Kingson: Looked a bit nervy at times, but dealt with the numerous high balls into the area well. 7/10
Stephen Crainey: A quieter performance than of late. Whilst his fellow full back Neal Eardley did his best to prevent Stoke crossing the ball, Crainey allowed his opponents too much space, inviting pressure on the 'Pool backline. 5/10
Ian Evatt: Beaten in the air on a few occasions, but defended heroically. Has really stepped up to the standard required. 8/10
Craig Cathcart: Mr Composed. Looked to build possession from the back at every opportunity. 7/10
Neal Eardley: I took great delight in reminding my dad that he didn't think he was worth half a million pounds when we signed him. Continues to develop into a fine player. 7/10
Charlie Adam: Grew into the game as it went on and his movement and passing for the goal was wonderful. Will be missed v Spurs. 8/10
David Vaughan: Careless in possession a couple of times, but another wonderful all-action display from the Welsh Wizard. Needs to be offered a new contract that reflects his true worth immediately! 9/10
Elliot Grandin: His best performance yet. Really got stuck in and caused Stoke problems by floating all over the park. 9/10
Luke Varney: Won countless balls in the air (after some clever kicking by Kingson), and linked up with DJ (and others) very well. Sign him up in January! 8/10
Gary Taylor-Fletcher: Came into the game more as it progressed, but still not at his best. Quiet in fact, but effective at times nevertheless. 7/10
DJ Campbell: Worked the frontline tirelessly yet again and was rewarded (finally!) with a goal. 8/10
Matt Phillips: Great to see Ollie learn the lessons from Bolton and make an attacking sub as we looked to maintain our lead. Gave Stoke problems with his pace and skill. 7/10