Report: Blackpool 0-2 Rangers
After Blackpool's youth team crashed to a massive defeat against Kendal Town at the weekend, 'Pool's first team looked to give the Bloomfield Road faithful something to cheer about this evening as they took on Scottish champions Rangers. However, despite a promising display, the Seasiders slipped to a 2-0 defeat courtesy of two Steven Davis strikes.
'Pool manager Ian Holloway sprung a few surprises with his team selection tonight as he began life post Charlie Adam and David Vaughan; Neal Eardley playing in central midfield and Matt Hill playing at centre half.
'Pool's side in the first half was: Gilks, Crainey, Hill, Evatt, Basham, Southern, Eardley, Djordjic, Clarke, Taylor-Fletcher, Kevin Phillips.
Chances in the first half were few and far between; GTF went closest for 'Pool with a lofted effort that was tipped over the bar by Rangers keeper Alan McGregor.
However, old habits died hard at the back for the Seasiders as both of Rangers' goals had a familar feel about them.
The first was a counter attack headed home by Davis when Gilks should have done better, whilst a careless pass from debutant Matt Hill allowed Davis the opportunity to double the visitors' lead just eight minutes later.
Despite this, 'Pool played well in an even first forty-five, especially considering that Ally McCoist's side are much further on in their pre-season preparations.
They looked comfortable on the ball, fluid in terms of movement and looked to close Rangers down high up the pitch.
Chris Basham, Neal Eardley, Bojan Djordjic and Kevin Phillips should all feel very happy with their first half displays, but Matt Hill looked uncomfortable at centre back, although he wasn't helped by a rusty looking Ian Evatt.
'Pool made eleven changes at the break, with only captain Keith Southern remaining on the pitch. It is unclear at the moment whether Southern has been appointed as the club's new captain on a permanent basis.
However, neither Craig Cathcart or Elliot Grandin made appearances - presumably both are carrying slight injuries, although there has been no official confirmation on this.
There was no appearance for Barry Ferguson against his ex-club either; he left Bloomfield Road earlier this evening having failed to finalise his move to the Seasiders, although it is reported that a deal is edging ever closer.
'Pool's team in the second half was: Halstead, Harris, Baptiste, Llera, Bignot, Southern (Tomsett), Husband, Sylvestre, Bruna (Barkhuizen), Ormerod, Campbell.
'Pool played in the second half much like they had in the first; looking good on the ball but shaky at the back.
However, they did carve out more chances in the second period; Bruna rattling the post with a brilliant freekick, Ormerod firing straight at McGregor after good work by Bruna, and Ormerod being denied a clear run at goal by an advancing McGregor after a great through ball from deep.
Meanwhile, at other end, Rangers threw on ex 'Pool loanee James Beattie in an attempt to cause the Seasiders problems, but he endured a poor outing and was widely booed and jeered by the 'Pool fans who made up the majority of a near 10,000 crowd.
Instead it was his strike partner Kane Hemmings who came closest to increasing Rangers' lead, but he failed to beat Mark Halstead in a one on one situation.
Halstead acquitted himself well in the second forty five. In terms of the other second half performances, I'd like us to have another look at Harris and Bignot, but Llera looked awful and must be thankful that he had Alex Baptiste (who took the captain's armband when Liam Tomsett replaced Keith Southern) alongside him.
Ludovic Sylvestre oozed class in the middle of the park as you'd expect and Tomsett obviously has potential, but Husband is nowhere near the standard required.
DJ (who was not expected to play by many) was his usual self, whilst Gerardo Bruna showed that he definitely has something about him - indeed, I believe he was named as the sponsors' man of the match.
So whilst the result was disappointing, the overall performance was generally promising and whilst there's still work to do, Ian Holloway will be very happy with his side's first run out of the season.
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