Pool's Fuller Examination
15th December 2007 - 15:00
Simon Grayson's team were taught a lesson in how to win comfortably today as they succumb to a well organised Stoke City outfit 3-2, despite going in front.
Following 'Pool's 1-0 defeat at home to Cardiff City in midweek, the management made a few changes ahead of the game, with Bart Slusarski coming in for Keigan Parker, who didn't make the 16 (say hello to Swansea, Keigan), along Ian Evatt replacing Michael Jackson at the heart of the defence, and Wes Hoolahan recovering from a back injury to take the wide left berth instead of Andy Welsh, who was poor on Tuesday.
Pool line up:
Barker © - Evatt - Gorkss - Crainey
GTF - Flynn - Jorgensen - Hoolahan
Slusarski - Burgess
Stoke lined up with former Blackpool loanee Andy Wilkinson at Right Back, with other loan star Carl Dickinson on the bench.
Stoke City team:
Wilkinson - Cort - Shawcross - Pugh (spit)
Lawrence - Delap - Eustace © - Cresswell (spit)
Fuller (spit) - Sidibe
The Seasiders - kicking towards the Kop end - started very brightly with Burgess peeling away at the back stick from a Barker cross to fire towards goal; with the former Everton stopper Simonsen tipping wide, within the first minute.
A number of attacks followed, and in the 13th minute we took the lead through the impressive Michael Flynn. The ball broke on the edge of the box, and the midfielder crashed it home, almost Southern-like, past the keeper into the net, and to send the home crowd into raptures.
City looked no mugs from the off, though, despite the early 'Pool pressure. The first half goal (yes, they're hard to come by nowadays aren't they?) looked to have stunned (if that's possible?!) The Seasiders, as they continued to give the ball away in dangerous areas, which allowed Stoke to break at will.
Chances came and went for the away side before they finally made the break through, and coming from a predictable source. A corner was swung in, which looked to be a routine catch for Rachubka, but he palmed it away instead, and lurking at the back post was Ricardo Fuller who hit home for the equaliser, with all three past and present knobbers Pugh, Cresswell and Fuller united in delight as they sprinted over to the City support, who were the best set of fans noise wise I've heard in a very long time at Bloomfield Road!
On 36 minutes it was 1-0, and just four minutes later the score had been completed turned on its head. Central defender Leon Cort waved to 'Pool defenders as he bypassed them at a corner to crash home a free header to give the visitors the lead. Both goals were poor to concede, and should really be eradicated at this level, to coin a Hendry phrase!
The scorer of the second goal, Leon Cort, is currently on loan at The Britannia from Crystal Palace, and looked in decent form today, certainly a more accomplished defender than ours. What is interesting about him though is that he was loaned out by Palace boss Neil Warnock because he wasn't tough enough. Warnock's reason for this? Cort hadn't been booked in two years! Laughable management from Warnock, a sure sign that he's lost the plot, in allowing another Championship team take advantage of one of the best central defenders in the division; perhaps we should try and sign Clinton Morrison of them whilst he's got his head up in the clouds?
In truth, the goals from Stoke had been coming. They looked a very good team, keeping the ball on the deck where possible, and also utilised their aerial presence with long throws from Rory Delap, which caused us problems all afternoon.
At the break City went in the stronger with a 2-1 lead.
No changes were made by either manager at half time, and the pattern of the match didn't really change either. The huff and puff attitude of the Seasiders' attackers was matched with skill and guile from their Potters counterparts who always looked the more threatening on the break, which was clearly Pulis' game plan from the word go.
Burgess - who won his fair share of ball today, and is looking a (dare I say it) Championship footballer - had an effort curl over, but lacked the support to constantly threaten City.
Sustained pressure was needed for us to get back into the game I felt, and we couldn't keep the ball for long enough periods to do so, which was highlighted in Stoke's third goal. Claus Jorgensen was caught in possession by Lawrence (why isn't he playing in the Premiership?) who threaded a lovely ball to Fuller; the former PKE man was always going to sprint clear of Evatt and calmly slot past Rabs to put the game safe with a full half an hour remaining.
Again the substitutions disappointed me from Grayson; Morrell replaced Bart and Fox came on for Jorgensen; hardly a signal of intent was it? We took up the same shape, which was never going to get two goals from half an hour. I feel we should've gone three up top (with Vernon also on the bench kicking his heels again) and forced Stoke backwards. Instead they managed to play a relatively high line and mop up any attack we tried to muster. The high defensive line we played today was a baffling decision as well, and lent itself to a more physical game, something this 'weak' Blackpool side certainly don`t want to win matches!
We didn't really create much more in all honesty. Michael Flynn kept getting into decent positions but his execution of the football wasn't all there, and Wes Hoolahan was snuffed out of the game a bit more as he switched flanks.
Andy Welsh was brought on far too late (with three minutes left) for GTF (who had a woeful game) and his impact was immediate as his corner found Barker at the back stick who nodded home to setup a grandstand finish with a minute plus stoppage time left?
No, a grandstand finish wasn't to be. In front of a half full Bloomfield Road (with many fans emptying the ground in disgust ten to fifteen minutes before the end, which isn't right for me - support your team!) Michael Flynn came ever so close to rescuing what would've been an undeserved point but his shot whistled wide.
The 'Pool had a final freekick which was defended, and Phil Joslin blew for full time. Valiant in defeat is becoming too frequent for me; much room for improvement and money needs to be spent...