Kabba Do, Do, Do!
13th September 2008
A late Steve Kabba thunderbolt sealed the win for The Seasiders this afternoon in a game which, for most of the 2nd period, looked destined to be heading for a 0-0 stalemate.
The on-loan Watford striker sent the home fans into hysterics with a fantastic right-footed drive to the 'keeper's right hand side, just when it looked like time might be running out for Simon Grayson's men.
Nardiello (on as a sub in the 2nd period for his 'Pool debut) and Southern (also a 2nd half sub) had previously been denied by goal-line clearances from the Barnsley back-line before Kabba took the law into his own hands and let rip from 20 yards, sending the ball whistling into the back of the Barnsley goal.
It was the Seasiders that started the game the brighter of the two teams. A number of chances came and went for the hosts before Claus Jorgensen had a penalty claim turned away. David Fox lofted the ball into the area as Jorgi raced into the 6-yard box from midfield, jumped for the header to flick the ball towards goal, only to be thwarted by an arm in the back sending the midfielder tumbling to the ground face first. Nothing given by referee, Mr. Bates.
Gary Taylor-Fletcher perhaps had one of the best chances of the game for Blackpool in this period - showing determination, skill and pace to pick up the ball on the edge of his own area, dribble to the half way line and take on two midfielders at the same time (and beat them!) before charging down on goal and having a shot low to the 'keeper's left, only for it to go out for a corner off his shoulder.
Between chants of 'sell the tower, build your ground!' from the travelling supporters - a good 1,600 at least packed into the Gene Kelly on a sunny afternoon in the resort - Simon Davey's men attacked The Kop and had a couple of half-chances that were straight at Paul Rachubka in the Blackpool goal and subsequently cleared by the defence.
A major talking point of the first half, however, was a penalty claim from the Barnsley players and fans as the ball appeared to strike Ian Evatt's hand as his arms were by his side inside the 'Pool area. Ball-to-hand it most certainly was, but whereas Mr. Bates waved away the protests, on other occasions, I have certainly seen them being given!
Towards the end of the first half, Adam Hammill took a knock to the ankle in a challenge with Foster on the left wing that knocked the youngster for 6 - and left Foster with a yellow card to his name - but he hobbled back onto the pitch following some treatment from Phil Horner on the touchline and saw out the last 5 minutes or so of the half as the game still stood in the balance, despite 'Pool's early pressure.
Barnsley kicked off in the second period, not before making a change to their forward line. Former Leicester man Iain Hume was replaced by Kayodie Odejayi to try and cause the 'Pool defence more problems than they had encountered in the first 45, given his height and strength.
It almost paid off as a ball was sent over the top, charged down by Odejayi as he challenged with Rachubka, sending the 'Keeper flying and the ball loose. However, the 'Pool defence were equal to the threat and cleared the danger (eventually!) but failed to get out of their own half for an extended period of play which was more than frustrating for the home fans.
Simon Grayson then decided to shuffle his own pack. The midfield pairing of Jorgensen and Fox departed and on came Keith Southern and David Vaughan to provide a fresh incentive in the middle of the park.
It would certainly change the game for The Seasiders. Vaughan was the first to have a chance at goal. Put through by a ball over the top of the defence, he lashed at the shot on the bounce with his left foot and sliced the ball wide of the goal, but the threat was there and it momentum was suddenly shifting back to the home team with the fans behind them.
Then came the big talking point of the whole match. A penalty shout (again for the visitors) that, from my position high up in the Kop, looked pretty much stone-wall. The ball wasn't cleared properly by the 'Pool defence and was sent high up in the air off Keith Southern's head, to be met on it's way back down to Earth by Shaun Barker's hand. The right back's right arm out-stretched to his side as he went to head the ball (and missed) struck the ball and resulted in the Barnsley entourage racing off the visitors bench with arms raised aloft in appeal for the decision...but nothing was given until 30 seconds later when the referee gave a freekick just outside the area for a completely different incident. Davey, his staff and players, were livid and for once, I can have no grievances for that one - we got lucky.
Having said that, with luck being on Blackpool's side with that decision, it certainly wasn't on their side minutes later as Keith Southern saw a pearler of a shot blocked on the line by Stephen Foster's chest after Steve Kabba pulled the ball back for the 'Pool midfielder.
A goal-mouth scramble ensued but 'Pool couldn't force the ball home and it was eventually bundled out for a corner which came to nothing.
Then it was time for Nardiello to enter the fray against his former employers. After scoring for the reserves against Preston in mid-week, he came on to replace Adam Hammill on the left hand side and within a few minutes was nearly on the scoresheet himself. Kabba was sent through by a lovely ball over the top and pulled the ball back for Nardiello from 6 yards out, on the by-line, and Nards' shot rebounded, this time, off Rob Kozluk on the line as the Barnsley 'keeper was once again beaten.
In the end it was Kabba who went from potential provider to match-winner as his rocket of a shot - well worth a watch on the highlights! - flew past Luke Steele to end the voodoo of Blackpool failing to beat Barnsley in the league since the 1980/81 season.
Don't forget to vote for your Vital Man Of The Match this week. Check the forum for the voting thread!