Date:Tuesday March 23 2010
23rd March 2010 - 19:45
Going into tonight's game, Swansea were ten points ahead of the Seasiders with the same goal difference. 90 minutes, and a 5-1 thrashing later, they are now only seven in front with their goal difference shot; effectively only six ahead of Ian Holloway's side.
After four games without a win, Pool could have been forgiven for trying to keep it tight for the opening 20 against the playoff visitors. However, Blackpool are made of more attacking stuff and started with Clarke, Ormerod, Burgess and Taylor-Fletcher hoping to reignite a playoff push.
And reignite they did.
In what was obviously going to be a cracking game right from the off, both sides did well to keep the ball and probe at their opponents in the first few minutes. There were no real chances until the first goal of the game though: after picking up on a loose ball just outside the box, the livewire Billy Clarke - who now looks fully match fit after injury - hit an early strike which was parried by the City keeper, only to find Brett Ormerod who made no mistake, stroking home from six yards after just 13 minutes.
What was impressive about the Seasiders was the way in which they kept the ball in the middle third of the pitch - something which has alluded them in the last few weeks. The confidence in the midfield to dominate the game was reinstalled into the team. It was interesting to note that the absence of David Vaughan made Charlie Adam's life slightly easier with the Scot able to come deep for the ball and dictate the play.
However, Paulo Sousa's Swans are a fantastic passing team. They were able to get winger Nathan Dyer into the game on regular occasions and the speed merchant was causing Stephen Crainey all sorts of problems. Luckily for Pool, Shefki Kuqi was unable to keep up with the midfielder as he constantly sprinted away from his man and thus no real chances were created.
I'd say that Dyer was the away side's only potent threat, with the likes of Kuqi and Gower being well nullified by a well drilled tangerine team, who to me looked far more clued up about the opposition than normal - knowing exactly where to track and where to be. Maybe that comes with playing a team who operates in the same way as ourselves.
David Cotterill seemed to bottle a huge chance for City when he was put clean through by Gower but the on-loan man definitely looked as if he stopped when he saw Matt Gilks flying out of his goal to smother.
Blackpool kept passing a probing, and GTF was showing what a class act he could be in the middle of the park if given a run in that position. The former Huddersfield man, who is used to playing out wide, looked like he had so much time on the ball - something refreshing in what is normally a helter-skelter attacking system.
Moments before the break the home side made it 2-0 and given poor Swansea's goalscoring record, pretty much made the game safe. Seamus Coleman darted into the right hand side of the box (after Billy Clarke was fouled - a good advantage played by referee Miller) before pulling back for Ian Evatt to slot home, via a deflection on the line from Alan Tate.
The second period was hardly five minutes old when the three points were truly wrapped up. Billy Clarke was again heavily involved - dribbling his way through a few challenges before digging out a wonderful effort which hit the post. Not to worry though, as the ball fell nicely to Ben Burgess on the goal line who had the simple task of prodding home for 3-0.
The big target man had a mixed night. Despite winning lots of aerial ball, he still fails to find a tangerine shirt far too many times. Having said that, he put himself about and was able to bring onrushing midfielders into play around him. To be fair, it was a solid performance from him and did him no harm in his quest for a new deal.
Sousa had actually made a really positive move at the break, bringing Darren Pratley on after injury. He played relatively well throughout the second half, and could have made the difference if we hadn't scored so early.
But it was all about Pool. They were simply brilliant going forward, looking at ease with the way they were playing for the first time in a good few months by my reckoning.
Both sides made changes on the hour mark, with City using all their remaining ones and Billy Clarke being given a rest after a scintillating wing performance - being replaced by Barry Bannan.
With 20 minutes remaining, super Brett Ormerod rolled back the years, cutting inside on his left foot before fizzing a shot past De Vries in the away goal - a perfect way to signal that he's definitely worthy of another contract.
Charlie Adam and Burgess were then taken off, being replaced by Stephen Husband and Jason Euell, the latter playing particularly well. Unfortunately for Husband, he never really got going.
A real team goal made it 5-0 to Ollie's men on 81 minutes. The goal scored by Cambiasso for Argentina in the 2006 World Cup was hailed as one of the great goals in recent times after they pinged the ball about before eventually scoring. Well, Gary Taylor-Fletcher's effort reminded me of that one - it seemed as if everyone had a touch before Seamus Coleman again broke into the box before cutting back for GTF to poke home.
Coleman's showing at right back was very impressive, gallivanting up and down the touchline like erm...Cafu! Ok, perhaps not that good but he certainly adds an extra dimension to our play and has a better delivery than Neal Eardley.
Sadly Pool couldn't hang on to a clean sheet as Husband aimlessly flicked a ball into the path of Cedric Van Der Gun, who hit a shot across Gilks for a consolation effort which should have been avoided.
But that shouldn't take away from a brilliant game - where oddly Swansea still looked a threat to the Blackpool goal throughout the fixture - and the fact it looked like the Ian Holloway team of October instead of the stuff they have served up recently.
Is the playoffs still on? I hope so!
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Date:Tuesday March 23 2010
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