Writer: Eamonn Moore
Date:Friday April 6 2012
Easter's supposedly all about 'The Resurrection', and that's perhaps an apt way of describing Blackpool's last two results.
Sure, it's taken us longer than three days to get going again, but today's eggcellent result (cue tumbleweed) saw 'Pool take another step towards making the end of season playoffs.
Following last weekend's win over (then) league leaders Southampton, Seasiders manager Ian Holloway elected to retain the same starting XI, restricting his changes to the substitutes bench; Stephen Crainey, Barry Ferguson and Ludo Sylvestre returning to the fray.
Heading into the game, hosts Watford were on a great run of form; following an unbeaten March they found themselves on the cusp of breaking into the top six.
However, here's a little stat for you: Blackpool have not lost their opening game of a month all season - a stat that came into play again today as the Seasiders had a very good Good Friday.
It was family fun day at Vicarage Road today, but I can't imagine the Hornets attracted any new fans with their brand of 'football'. In short, they were awful.
I've never seen a team at this level be so devoid of footballing ability. Sure, even the 'Pool can be a little agricultural at times, but I'm not sure that Watford managed to string together a single attacking move today without launching the ball into the air.
That said, Sean Dyche has done a very good job with very limited resources and (despite being quieter than a library today) the Vicarage Road faithful can justifiably be happy with how their season's gone.
There was a time that a team like Watford would have blown the Seasiders off the park with their physical approach, but the 'Pool were always in control today - aided by a referee who put up with no nonsense from the home team.
'Pool have held on grimly in such games in the past, but played with a lot more heart, belief and conviction today; hell, even Tom Ince was throwing himself about and winning headers. Such work rate will be key if the Seasiders are to make an automatic return to the Premier League.
The first chance of the game fell to the aforementioned Ince inside ten minutes; he raced onto a through ball and struck hard towards on loan Tomasz Kuszczak who parried towards his own goal, before recovering to punch the ball away at the second attempt.
The Manchester United stopper had kept three clean sheets in four before today, and to be fair it took a piece of real magic to undo the deadlock today, despite Watford's defence looking clueless for the best part.
So, to that magic... 'Pool had enjoyed the better of the first half by some distance and (finally) took the lead on twenty five minutes when Stephen Dobbie collected the ball outside the Watford area, and turned one way, then another, then turned again, and again, and again etc etc etc as he truly bamboozled the Watford defence before slotting the ball coolly home. It was majestic and is a real goal of the season contender.
The only chances that the hosts enjoyed in the first half were half chances, with the Seasiders back four more than a match for the Hornet's physicality.
It was such physicality that saw Gary Taylor-Fletcher stretchered off early in the second half following an aerial collision (someone was bound to go off today with a head injury there were that many mid air collisions). He is now a doubt for Monday's home game with Barnsley with concussion, leaving our attacking options a little stretched.
Barry Ferguson replaced GTF, meaning that Dobbie moved up top whilst Angel played slightly further forward. The change certainly seemed to suit the Spaniard as he was afforded more time and space on the ball. That's not to say that he didn't get stuck in as well though; he helped the Seasiders clear their lines several times, especially in the second half.
With twenty minutes left, 'Pool doubled their advantage; demonstrating to the hosts how to play direct football effectively.
Keith Southern's long ball over the top of the Watford back four set Matt Phillips scampering away on goal. The young winger seemed to have spurned the chance by going wide, but he looked up and laid the ball across the box for Ince who had made a burst into the box, and the ex Liverpool youngster was hauled down by Kuszczak. Penalty.
Dobbie made it two braces in two games by calmly sending the Polish keeper the wrong way and rolling the ball into the back of the net.
The only black mark on the game for the on loan Swansea forward was the injury he picked up late on. He seemed to be walking fine on it at full time, but was nevertheless replaced by Lomano Tresor LuaLua.
Watford finally tested Matt Gilks late on; the keeper getting down low to turn away a Mark Yeates strike, but the Seasiders saw out the closing stags comfortably.
Date:Friday April 6 2012
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