Blackpool's Vital View
Forum member, Abel writes about Sunday's game.
I don`t think that I`ve ever been as nervous watching a game as I was on Sunday; after 46 games hard work, I was all too aware that one simple mistake or bad decision could cost this team what it really deserves - promotion. Thankfully, a cracking second half performance sees the Pool take a 2-1 advantage back to Bloomfield Road and extend their winning sequence to eight games.
The travelling Pool faithful weren`t put off by the horrendous conditions and as per usual, we really got behind Larry and the team. Such support has been crucial all season and will be even more so in the remaining game(s).
The home side were the better team in the first half as Pool struggled to settle into their stride and play the passing game that we`ve all become accustomed to. However, it was Keigan Parker who had the best chances of the first half; missing twice in a number of seconds when through on goal.
However, after what can have only been an inspiring half time team talk from Larry, the Pool dominated proceedings in the second half and probably could and indeed should have been out of sight ahead of the second leg on Saturday.
The Mighty took the lead on 52 minutes when Shaun Barker powered home Robbie Williams` brilliant corner. Just a couple of minutes later, Barker almost replicated his goal, but this time the ball just flew agonizingly over the bar.
Oldham were forced into a double change through injuries to goalkeeper Les Pogliacomi and defender Simon Charlton, who were replaced by Alan Blayney and Paul Edwards.
Having been very much thrown in at the deep end, Blayney did well; saving well from Parker on two occasions, before the normally reliable Andy Morrell`s first touch let him down when through on goal.
However, Oldham found themselves level on 75 minutes through an Andy Liddell penalty after Michael Jackson was deemed to have fouled Chris Porter. I would have to see the incident again before deciding on if it was indeed a spot kick.
The goal got Oldham going again, and they started to establish themselves on the game again, urged on by the home fans. However, whilst previous Pool teams may have crumbled under such pressure, this one is mind of sterner stuff and after Jorgensen had fired a couple of shots wide, magic man Wes Hoolahan finally got the Pool their deserved winner; converting a one on one chance after Andy Morrell had played him in. It was no less than we deserved.
As Simon Grayson said after the match, this tie could have easily been over, but this is the Pool, and we never do things easily. While Oldham will take great hope from the fact that they`re still in the tie, I`m confident that we`ve easily still got enough in the tank to finish off the job on Saturday.
As Andy Morrell said though, next week starts at 0-0 and it`s vitally important that we treat the game as a normal league game and don`t try and defend our lead. I can see the first goal being crucial next week; if they score first, some of our 'fans` might get tetchy and turn on the team, whereas if we score first, they`ve got no choice but to go all out attack, hopefully leaving us able to pick them off on the counter.
As for individual performances on Sunday; Paul Rachubka had a great game upon his return from injury (A big thanks and well done to Joe Hart by the way who has now retuned to Manchester City; he came in at a crucial stage of the season and did brilliant. He`s got a very bright future in front of him and all credit to Larry for bringing him in). Robbie Williams impressed me again, and his set piece deliveries were very good. Jacko and Evatt dealt well with Porter (who impressed for the home side), whilst Barker struggled first half, but had a much better second forty five, largely because Forbesy improved his game massively; the poor guy had a nightmare in the first half. Southern, Claus and Wes weren`t at their best in the first half, but all three were brilliant in the second half, with Claus just pipping Wes to man of the match for me. As for Parker and Morrell, after a quiet first half, they were back to their near best after the break, with the only thing missing from them being goals; let`s hope they`re saving them up for when we`ll really need them.
So yes, another very good win, but we`ve still got it all to do; Saturday`s game is going to be another tough one and we`re not through yet by any stretch of the imagination.