'Pool Take Point At Stoke
22nd March 2008 - 15:30
I thought that perhaps it might not be a brilliant day when we arrived at the Farmers Arms at 9:55 to find the coach driving down Lytham Road without us, Stoke bound. So - by the time we decided what were we to do - with the traffic problems on the M6 we decided that we weren't going to make the game, and on went the radio at half two. Then the game was put back half an hour (which, listening to club secretary Matt Williams, sounded like the correct thing to do what with supporters seeing heavy delays as they proceeded to The Britannia Stadium) due to the aforementioned accident, coupled with referee Mike Pike not arriving at the ground until late.
At three o'clock The Seasiders had dropped to 16th with PKE rising above them and Cardiff City after beating Burnley 2-1 in the early kick off. By half past three when we kicked off, Blackpool saw themselves down in 17th as Norwich lead Colchester United at Carrow Road!
But, Simon Grayson's men had a decent chance of taking something from the game with the league leaders faltering slightly as no one team wants to run away with the division this season. The 'Pool decided that the same starting eleven would play again - with Grant Holt having to settle for a place on the bench. Despite Paul Dickov back in training at Squires Gate in the week, the loan man failed to make the 16.
Barker © - Evatt - Gorkss - Crainey
GTF - Flynn - Jorgensen - Hoolahan
Burgess - McPhee
Stoke City (4-4-2):
Griffin - Cort - Riggott - Pugh
Delap - Whelan - Diao - Gallagher
Sidibe - Cresswell
The home side were the brighter side to begin the game and saw shots from Salif Diao and Rory Delap fly over.
As The Seasiders grew into the game more and more as the game progressed, a goal came - and not at all against the run of play. As a ball was pumped into the box, Ben Burgess pounced and struck home on 37 minutes, via a Leon Cort deflection but I'm sure the big man will be claiming it!
Stoke kept pressing, but Blackpool got the ball down and played some neat football, nearly increasing their lead on the stroke of half time as Ian Evatt poked wide when all 2000 Seasiders thought he had scored.
Half Time: Stoke City 0 - 1 Blackpool
The one thing that Larry would have stated to the lads at half time is to weather the inevitable early storm, but the men in tangerine couldn't manage it and the home side drew level after just a minute of the second period. The failure to defend set pieces was again apparent and it was Ben Burgess the culprit on the back stick, whose miscued header found Leon Cort and the defender scored to level the scores - his eighth of the campaign.
But Blackpool carried on unperturbed and could really have gone in front again five minutes later when a quickly taken freekick by McPhee allowed Hoolahan to cross for Gary Taylor-Fletcher, but the right winger looped his header over Carlo Nash's crossbar.
Two minutes later another great chance was created by the away side as a cracking cross was whipped in for Stephen McPhee but his header was brilliantly saved by Nash down to the left - any further away from the stopper and it was a certain goal.
Just after the hour mark, The Potters made their final change and Andy Wilkinson was the man to give way, despite coming on as a first half substitute earlier in the game. The switch did mean that Jay Bothroyd joined fellow strikers Paul Gallagher, Sidibe and Cresswell on the pitch as the home side pushed for a winner which would stretch their lead at the top of the Championship table after Watford drew away at Plymouth and Bristol started their annual bottle job with a defeat.
Straight after the final change, Mamady Sidibe made a mess of a chance presented to him from a Rory Delap long throw, and looked like a man that had only scored two goals all season.
As all this was happening, QPR conceded a late equaliser away at Wolves (3-3), Barnsley got beat, as well as Scunthorpe and Leicester City. Southampton drew their game with Coventry, which helps neither side, along with Sheffield Wednesday surrendering a lead twice to draw at home to Palace. Norwich won 5-1 against Colchester, which meant the 'Pool were lying in 17th, but with 20 minutes still to play.
Wes Hoolahan and Gary Taylor-Fletcher switched flanks and this saw Hoolahan come into the game a bit more from the right, typified with a weaving run and his ball broke for Shaun Barker, but the right back wasn't aware that a chance was coming his way and the move diminished.
The manager still hadn't made a change, with five outfield players on the bench, and Grant Holt was doing an extensive warm up and looked to be coming on soon.
Shaun Barker and Hoolahan were linking up well, and won a corner with ten minutes left, but the set play was completely wasted. Up the other end Stoke went, and they won a corner too, which turned into two and heavy pressure, but thankfully Rachubka cleared.
As Grant Holt stood on the halfway line waiting for his Blackpool debut, Claus Jorgensen saw a shot fly wide. Yet again, Taylor-Fletcher failed to complete a fixture and he made way for the big target man who went up front alongside Burgess with McPhee going wide.
However, City had a great chance to win the game, as Chris Riggott had the ball crunched away from him by Ian Evatt just seven yards from goal as he looked like he was going to lash the ball home. A chorus of 'One Ian Evatt' could be heard loud and clear from the travelling support, who were there in their numbers.
With just a minute remaining, a Stoke corner was header towards goal and was flying in but for a fantastic goal line clearance by Claus Jorgensen - who did a much better job than Burgess did do earlier in the half!
Four minutes additional time was added on, and in the first a shot from Jay Bothroyd was held well by Rabs, just as Danny Pugh was given sponsors man of the match.
And after the remaining three minutes passing without much note, The Seasiders gained a valuable point which moves them to 49 for the season and into 16th place - five points ahead of Sheffield Wednesday in the relegation places.
Not a bad day for us overall, just a pity I wasn't there to see the fabulous point at The Britannia Stadium; bring on Palace!