Date:Saturday March 29 2008
29th March 2008 - 15:00
As Blackpool travelled to Crystal Palace in search of a second away win in eight games, but a draw was on the cards before a ball had been kicked, and that is how the game finished. The draw specialists of the division are 'Pool and Palace (who incidentally drew in the reverse fixture at Bloomfield Road) - so it was no surprise that a 0-0 was the outcome from what was a decent game, which means that draws have been seen in 34 games involving these two sides.
Simon Grayson picked exactly the same team as last week, but the big story from the team announcement was that Paul Dickov made the bench, and was likely to play a part at some point. On loan Joe Martin had a groin injury and thus failed to make the sixteen, despite travelling down with the squad. Palace handed debuts to Reid, Ashton and Sinclair.
Barker © - Evatt - Gorkss - Crainey
GTF - Flynn - Jorgensen - Hoolahan
McPhee - Burgess
Subs: Morrell, Holt, Dickov, Fox, Coid.
Crystal Palace (4-3-3):
Butterfield - Lawrence - Hudson - Ashton
Derry - Soares - Watson
Morrison - Scowcroft - Sinclair
Subs: Fonte, Robinson, Reid, Fletcher, Scannell
The game was blown underway by referee Anthony Taylor (those of you who went today, there will be a chance to rate him on the forum later) whose last game officiating The Seasiders was the 4-0 demolition job of Coventry City in December. Palace looked to get the ball down and play football, and saw their first spell of pressure in the tenth minute where only good tracking back by Wes Hoolahan prevented the home side from carving the defence open. Three minutes later there was shouts of a penalty all around the ground as Clinton Morrison was shoulder charged by Ian Evatt (and seemed to go down all very easily) but Taylor was right on the spot and denied The Eagles a spot kick. Ironically, it was Blackpool who were to go closest after a counter attack immediately proceeding the penalty shout but their pressure only resulted in a corner.
On 18 minutes, Colchester broke into a 2-0 lead away at the Hawthorns, which served to show that it is the silly season for results and any team down near the bottom can win at a promotion contender. And 'Pool did nearly that on 20 minutes as Gary Taylor Fletcher knocked the ball past two defenders before hitting a strong shot which Speroni did well to parry; however Burgess was presented with the ball in front of goal but hit his shot wide after a heavy first touch.
Michael Flynn hit the wall with a dangerously placed freekick (we certainly need a quality dead ball specialist next season, and no, David Fox is not a specialist!) and from the corner Burgess went close from a deflection.
Again the away team were causing The Eagles all sorts of problems as a clever one-two from GTF and Evatt on the edge of the box culminated in Evatt shooting over.
The biggest chance of the half fell just after the half hour mark as a cracking ball from Taylor-Fletcher put Jorgensen in, who from a tight angle blasted high and wide when Stephen Crainey was bursting a gut at the back post and an unselfish cut back would have meant an easy tap in for the full back.
Yet again The Seasiders had a chance to take the lead as moments later Stephen McPhee hit a fantastic strike towards goal but Speroni once again was equal to it with a top save, and then gathered the rebound as Burgess seemed too slow to pounce.
There was a bit of a raucous towards the end of the half when Scott Sinclair took a tumble in the box under an Ian Evatt challenge and received a booking for diving, much to the annoyance of Neil Warnock who exchanged pleasantries with Evatt, which saw the big centre half getting a yellow card as well as Tom Soares - who was booked for protesting to the referee.
Ben Watson whipped a curling ball just wide of Paul Rachubka's goal just before Claus Jorgensen ballooned over a Burgess knock down and should have done much better.
0-0 certainly wasn't a fair reflection on the game so far, but at the break that is how it stayed - and Blackpool were in 16th place, where they stayed throughout the day.
Warnock made a double substitution at half time and the most significant one was the introduction of Kyle Reid who was given the freedom of Selhurst Park to try and work openings. Reid had two early shots in the second half but both failed to threaten the Blackpool goal significantly.
Danny Butterfield saw another shot fly over the bar, and seconds later Claus Jorgensen looked as if he had been fouled in the middle of the pitch, but Taylor waved play on and Sinclair then saw his shot deflected wide for a corner. Thankfully that poor decision didn't cost us!
In a half which was nowhere near as good as the first, Grayson's men sat back a bit more and tried to hit Palace on the counter. This they did nearing the hour mark when McPhee - who played really well throughout - knocked the ball past the ageing Shaun Derry and the former Leeds man hacked him down and took a booking 'for the team'.
After the hour mark Palace hit the self destruct button at the back. Firstly, Fonte - who came on for Lawrence at half time - booted a ball out for a corner under no real pressure, with Kaspars Gorkss seeing his header fly wide from a good corner by Hoolahan, along with a shocking spill of a cross by Speroni who nearly presented Burgess with an open goal but the big man again failed to capitalise as the keeper retrieved the ball.
It looked increasingly like a substitution from Simon Grayson could turn the game his way; loanees Grant Holt and Paul Dickov were seen doing extensive warm ups. But it was Warnock who made the next change, his last of the game, when he hauled off Ashton for Robinson.
Shortly after that sub, Evatt was caught out of position by Palace and the spell of pressure that ensued saw courageous desperate defending, and eventually the ball was cleared from safety.
Again a home player was booked for a cynical foul on a Blackpool counter attack as Butterfield saw yellow after a poor foul on Hoolahan.
Just after McPhee saw another shot go wide, Wes Hoolahan had a shout for a penalty which was duly turned down by Taylor.
Finally, with ten minutes remaining, Blackpool made their changes. Off came the impressive Taylor-Fletcher (when will he finish a game of football?) and Burgess, and on came the two frontmen Dickov and Holt.
Mark Hudson headed a corner wide before Hoolahan robbed him in his own box before Speroni tipped over an audacious chip by the clever winger right on 90 minutes.
As we went into three minutes of stoppage time allocated, Palace began to pressurise our defence more, with Rachubka making a smart stop after Robinson had a shot deflected. The final three minutes were definitely not representative of the game, but the home side could have won the game late on but for some heroic desperate defending by the Pool backline which saw the game finish all square…how it was destined to finish before the fixture had kicked off.
17 draws each for Blackpool and Crystal Palace: some well earned 17 points for the Northerners, which could ultimately keep them up, and 24 dropped points for the Southerners, which could ultimately keep them down; all this and we are just nine points apart!
You know what I said before about Colchester winning? Well, they bottled it big style against West Brom, losing 4-3 after being in the lead going into the last ten minutes. They must be doomed now, as well as Scunny who lost at Leicester. Perhaps we wont have to endure a silly season of results this year, with the teams at the bottom losing to the top teams (if this is true, Southampton are definitely going down). Hang on, I suppose that would become a silly season - this terms Championship has been anything but predictable, and maybe today's 0-0 draw at Selhurst Park marked the start of the probable season? I do hope so!
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