Blackpool Stun Brum
20th September 2008 - 15:00
I could waste this match report with extravagant superlatives about how wonderful the 1-0 away win at table toppers Birmingham City - I'll try desperately not to, although it could be difficult!
Where do we start? The team were organised, passed the ball about in a fluent manner and bossed the game against stars (and yes, they are stars) such as Phillips, McFadden (remember his goal against France?) and Larsson. Credit has to go to the management staff for going with a 4-4-2 formation which clearly enabled us to knock the ball into good areas and stifle the game when it was needed.
The Seasiders were boosted with the inclusion of on-loan striker Steve Kabba in the starting line up, with Grayson resting Adam Hammill after his average showing in midweek.
Barker - Edwards © - Evatt - Camara
GTF - Jorgensen - Southern - Vaughan
Kabba - Burgess
City, for me, still have the players to compete at Premiership level, with a bench consisting of Bent, Phillips, Jaidi and Owusu-Abeyie.
Birmingham City (4-5-1):
Kelly - Taylor - Ridgewell - Murphy
McSheffrey - Larsson - Carsley - Agustien - McFadden
A home fan outside the ground had a good laugh at the prospect of playing the Pool. 'I might go home at 4-0, it'll get boring' the slightly overweight fan exclaimed, pie in one hand, coke bottle in the other. To be fair, before the game, who were we to argue with that assessment? In my match preview on Friday the prediction read a 3-0 home win.
So it was no surprise that The Blues came out of the blocks quickly, and looked a real threat in the opening minutes with Cameron Jerome going close in front of the 1500 or so Blackpool fans behind the goal.
But The Seasiders then seemed to get a grip on the game. David Vaughan was allowed to roam into the middle of the park, which in turn created space for Mo Camara - who had his best game in tangerine so far - to bomb down the line and make life for Stephen Kelly very awkward.
It was Vaughan who really should have put Blackpool into a half an hour lead when good an incisive pass from Steve Kabba (after fantastic football from GTF and Burgess) found the winger, who from two yards out found Maik Taylor`s fingertips as he pushed the ball wide. In truth, the save looked better than it was, with Vaughan hitting across the ball with his left foot on the angle - Taylor guided it wide.
But I would be lying to you if I said the first half was all Blackpool. The away side had to withstand heavy Brummy pressure for 15 minutes or so before the break with last ditch defending the order of the day from David Vaughan, Rob Edwards and Ian Evatt on separate occasions.
All that pressure culminated in a flurry of corners, but the only real goal threat game from Garry McSheffrey's curling shot which just evaded Rachubka's right hand post.
That was that for the opening 45 minutes, and personally I was slightly disappointed we hadn't found the net. Of course, so were the home fans, who showed their impatience as the team were booed off.
The second half started with Blackpool pressurising Alex McLeish's men and but for slight miscontrol by Ben Burgess, may have taken the lead within a minute, but Burgess couldn't quite gather Kabba's ball and only poked the ball towards goal, where it was saved.
However, the Pool were pressing again moments later, when a fantastic move from Vaughan, Kabba and Burgess finished in Taylor-Fletcher cleverly slotting home into the right hand corner. The move was a wonderful example of the flowing football the team played, utilising Burgess well I thought.
Marcus Bent, who was brought on at half time, looked to be causing some problems in the positions he was taking up, if not actual pressure on the defence, and this brought about the introduction of Kevin Phillips.
Claus Jorgensen and Keith Southern had blinding games in the middle of the park and fought hard with Lee Carsley and co for every ball. Perhaps this is still the preferred pairing in the middle, and Gow will have to wait for his chance to impress?
The game from then on in was Blackpool withstanding heavy pressure but breaking out on the counter, and they might have added to the lead with 20 minutes left when Burgess forced a good save out of Maik Taylor.
Shortly after that, Taylor-Fletcher came close to doubling his tally as he latched onto a Kabba through ball, evaded the dive of the goalkeeper but as he rounded him, went too wide and the attack broke down.
With around ten minutes to go, Pool went into their shells and hung on for dear life. Zesh Rehman came on in place of goalscorer Fletcher and played on the right of a five man defence. Rob Edwards and Ian Evatt were absolute rocks at the back, heading everything away.
The organisation of the team has been improved tenfold whilst Edwards has been captain. His leadership and togetherness with the group is quite evident.
Often described as a workmanlike side, Pool showed that their football can match anyone in the division as they sprayed the ball about with great confidence in running the clock down. Seeing Mo Camara galloping down the left touch line with two minutes to go was both a joy and a worry!
And what would look like on teletext as a fortunate victory for The Seasiders was in fact a comfortable win in front of almost 21,000. They now sit in 10th place, just one point from the playoffs.
I wonder where we will be after ten games, that could give us an indication as to where we might finish…