Date:Saturday December 20 2008
20th December 2008 - 15:00
Blackpool came away from Bloomfield Road probably feeling slightly fortunate to have taken a point off a fluent passing Swansea City team who, on another day, could've sewn the game up inside 45 minutes.
The Seasiders, who were led out by Shaun Barker (looking more like a member of a 'My Chemical Romance' tribute group rather than a footballer, as the right back sported a new blonde haircut) in the absence of skipper Rob Edwards, made just one change from the team which drew at Nottingham Forest last week - Evatt replacing the aforementioned Edwards.
Barker © - Baptiste - Evatt - Martin
Hammill - Fox - Southern - Reid
Dickinson - Burgess
Swansea City (4-5-1):
Rangel - Williams - Monk - Tate
Allen - Britton - Pratley - Gomez - Butler
Ironically, you'll need to think back to that horrific day in November against the old enemy for the last time 'Pool started a game with venom and intent; today was again another example of the team ambling out of the blocks as slowly as Dwayne Chambers lacking tetrahydrogestrinone. Swansea looked to force the issue and take the game to their tentative hosts, but also showed a willingness to recycle possession when nothing was on. This allowed Roberto Martinez' team to keep the ball for long spells in the first half and work an opening - which in truth looked somewhat like a training ground excerise!
If the Swans had created more openings in Paul Rachuka's box instead of shooting from long range, they may well have run away with the fixture long before referee Darren Deadman blew for half time. Incidentally, the official was another poor one. We seem to get landed with real duffers at the moment, and Deadman - who we've had before (and he was woeful then as well. Looking at our records, a men in black rating of 1.5 after a 2-2 draw at Gillingham) - was no exception, giving bizarre decisions to both teams.
Going back to the wave of away attacking, they clearly thought that shooting on sight was a decent tactic, hoping for a bobble in front of the goalkeeper on the slippy surface. However, left winger Butler among others didn't get any help from the pitch, as powerful strikes found Rabs' midrift.
I was as impressed with the Swansea midfield as I was disappointed at their Pool counterparts. Darren Pratley, who always seems to pull the strings against us (formly at Brentford) and Leon Britton are, how do I put this politely, streets ahead of Keith Southern and David Fox as a pairing. These are the bare facts, which were the main difference between the two sides in the opening period. We failed to get a grip on the game in the middle of the park, whereas Pratley especially was a tough tackler but also had a range of passing which will eventually see him ply his trade at a higher level.
But whilst the game was still level, we were always in it. Liam Dickinson might have done better when he headed wide from a corner but chances were at a premium, and that was about it from our perspective. Patient passing games don't suit us whatsoever, for the simple fact that we're incapable of playing that way, and this led to increased frustration from all parts of the ground. The two wingers - Hammill and Reid - were tucked inside far too much, which obviously narrowed the game, and with the away side playing with such a conjested midfield, the team with more skill would boss the game. That team sadly wasn't us.
0-0 at the break though, as 'Mark and Lard' on Radio 1 used to say - 'mustn't grumble.'
Credit where credit's due for Simon Grayson at half time. He cleverly sent David Vaughan, Alan Gow, GTF and Steve Kabba to warm up with Steve Thompson - which obviously sent a message to the eleven playing that the management weren't pleased. He did make a change - bringing Gow on for the awful Burgess.
The on loan man Gow made an instant impact. Willing running and endeavor aren't words you would readily associate with Alan, but he was superb on and off the ball for the whole time he was on the pitch alongside Liam Dickinson. Something must have happened regarding Gow's future recently from where I am sitting. Whether another club has come in for him and he wants to prove his worth to them, or he wants a contract at the seaside I don't know, but there was a vast improvement in his all round game today.
Unfortunately for the Tangerines, just as they were building up a head of steam (and as the impressive but exhausted Kyel Reid was replaced with Gary Taylor-Fletcher) the Swans scored the opening goal. It wasn't as if Pool hadn't been warned either - moments before on another counter attack, Gomez had fired wide when it was three-on-one in his favour; if the Spaniard had passed sideways to Scotland it was a nailed on goal. However, this Welsh despair was soon switched to delight as another counter on 67 minutes ended in Jason Scotland picking a gaping hole (and I'm talking three red buses come on down type hole) in the Blackpool defence, before slotting home to send the travelling support of around 200 into raptures in the wet, uncovered away stand.
However, that delight was short-lived, quite unexpectedly. Alan Gow was the Blackpool hero on 74 minutes as he weaved in and out of City challenges before firing into the bottom right hand corner of the net across the goalkeeper to spark relived celebration from the home support. It was a truly stunning finish as he seemed to have so much time on the ball before picking his spot past De Vries from 18 yards.
But Larry then managed to kill the game with his final substitution: Steve Kabba replaced Dickinson and sadly we never looked the same up top without the on loan Derby County man. Kabba infact looked only half bothered (if that) and when you have a distinct lack of football intelligence such as he possesses (if you're raising eyebrows at that comment, take a look at his movement off the ball when we're breaking next time he plays) you need to rely on your workrate to get you by. I for one won't bat an eye if we never see Kabba in tangerine again.
As referee Deadman blew time, all in all it was a well-earned point for The Seasiders in the end, as we were probably lucky to come away with anything. Our season now seems to be balancing itself out again after that terrible run of defeats in November, and a win in either of our two remaining festive fixtures would be great, but thankfully it isn't imperative that we come away with a maximum from either.
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Date:Saturday December 20 2008
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