Writer: Eamonn Moore
Date:Sunday May 15 2011
The observant amongst you may have noticed that I included a picture of our 1953 FA Cup win over Bolton in my match preview. The even more observant amongst you will have noticed something poetic about our 4-3 win over Horwich yesterday just hours before Manchester City lifted the FA Cup. It's as if the footballing gods wanted to make a statement... it's just a shame that whilst the Seasiders picked up a massive three points, so did Wolves, whilst Blackburn picked up a point against a nervy Manchester United. To all intents and purposes it now looks like the Seasiders will have to beat the champions at Old Trafford next weekend to survive the drop; a tough ask, even if United do rest players ahead of the Champions League Final as expected.
But let's not look ahead to next weekend too much yet, and instead reflect on yesterday's pulsating game of football.
Ian Holloway remarked after the game that he was delighted to have his team back; a team that can never be written off, a team full of character and belief. And it was that character, belief and never say die attitude that carried the Seasiders over the finishing line yesterday in what must go down as one of the games of the season.
Bias aside, there's no way that we deserve to go down - we deserve to stay up purely on entertainment value alone. We've been lucky to have seen some great performances and results this season from the boys in tangerine, and yesterday demonstrated just how much of an asset to the Premier League we are.
There was one change to the starting XI from the Spurs game - Jason Puncheon replacing Sergei Kornilenko. There was no place for the Belarusian on the bench either; Marlon Harewood instead making a surprise return following his loan spell at Barnsley.
The Seasiders started well, immediately putting their visitors under pressure, but it was Wanderers who found themselves scoring the opener after just six minutes.
'Pool failed to clear a Bolton freekick properly, and Alex Baptiste's slip allowed in Kevin Davies who fired home expertly.
'Pool hit back immediately though; Gary Taylor-Fletcher's flicked header played in DJ Campbell on the left, the striker held off his marker and looped a finish cooly over Jussi Jaaskelainen. It was just what the doctor ordered.
Minutes later, 'Pool were ahead. After some nice build up down the right, the ball found its way to Jason Puncheon, who managed to hold off his man and curl a finish home from the edge of the area. Surely the Seasiders need to sign the impressive winger permanently in the summer?
Ten minutes later though it was 2-2 as Matt Taylor fired home from inside the area after 'Pool failed to clear the ball properly again. Matt Gilks will be especially disappointed with the goal having got a hand to the shot.
The chances kept flowing as both teams swarmed forward at every opportunity; DJ Campbell and Kevin Davies both rattled the bar with tremendous efforts, whilst Matt Gilks saved well from Daniel Sturridge when the striker was charging in on goal.
With the game being played at such a wonderful tempo, passions inevitably spilt over; Zat Knight and Gary Taylor-Fletcher clashed, leading to a mass bout of pushing and shoving by both teams. Both Knight and GTF were booked in what was probably the correct decision.
Just before the break, the Seasiders took the lead again though; Charlie Adam's brilliant cross from the left finding DJ Campbell both onside and unmarked and the striker turned the ball expertly home.
DJ's finishing has been wayward at times this season, but he (and the rest of the side) were clinical yesterday and we must certainly not turn our noses up at the number of goals the lovable frontman has scored this season; he loves the club, and we love him. A modern day legend. Hopefully he has more goals in him next weekend...
He nearly had a hat-trick at the end of the first half, but Jaaskelainen just got a hand to David Vaughan's superb cross with DJ lurking.
Before the game, highlights of last year's playoff final and been played on the big screen, and there was discussion within the crowd as to whether we were going to see a repeat; a 3-2 'Pool win with a winner just before the break. We weren't. Minutes into the second half Bolton were level.
Chung-Yong Lee (who really got the better of Stephen Crainey in the second half) went past Matt Gilks on the right hand side of the box before crossing for Daniel Sturridge to head home. Gilks' decision to come out was a rash one on a bad day for the keeper.
'Pool bounced back yet again on 63 minutes. Keith Southern, who continues to defy his doubters, won the ball twice on the edge of the area before Charlie Adam drove forward, exchanged passes with GTF and hammered the ball home into the top right corner. He dedicated the goal to Ian Holloway, the man who has transformed his career.
Bar his assist and goal though, Adam had a quiet afternoon and was again sloppy in possession at times; the decision by the sponsors to award him man of the match was created with bewilderment by the crowd.
With 'Pool looking to close the game out, Puncheon was replaced the ever hard working Brett Ormerod, whilst James Beattie was brought on for Gary Taylor-Fletcher. Presumably the idea was for Beattie to hold up the ball in the closing stages (as it was last week at Spurs), but yet again the plan failed. Beattie has been a flop in tangerine all told and will surely be sent back to Rangers after next weekend.
With the clock counting down further, Charlie Adam was replaced by Craig Cathcart. It wasn't quite goodbye for Adam yet as the players came back out after the game for a lap of honour, but it is highly likely that that's the last time we see the Scot in tangerine at Bloomfield Road.
The vast majority of the crowd stayed back to applaud the players at full time, and rightly so - it was a fantastic performance and result, and on the whole, it has been a fantastic season.
As some fans were chanting after the game... BRING ON UNITED!
Date:Sunday May 15 2011
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