Battling Blackpool suffer Chelsea defeat
7th March 2011, 20:00
Blackpool went down 3-1 to Champions Chelsea at Bloomfield Road to leave an extremely tense final nine games of the Premier League season.
The Seasiders made four changes to the side which lost heavily at Wolves last weekend with Craig Cathcart and Ludovic Sylvestre being the most notable absentees. Both were suffering from illness according to BBC Radio Lancashire. Chelsea on the other hand had rich pickings available and were able to leave the likes of Malouda, Anelka and Kalou on the bench.
All this meant a slightly bizarre Pool formation with Andy Reid the floating midfielder; Jason Puncheon and Dave Carney provided the width in a front three which lacked zip and movement with James Beattie heading the line.
And in all honesty, the ball just wasn't sticking up top in the opening quarter with Beattie looking a frustrated figure battling against the imposing Terry and David Luiz.
It was Terry who notched the opening goal for the visitors on 20 minutes. Slack (really really slack) marking from a Frank Lampard corner saw the central defender all on his own just six yards out and he bulleted a header beyond Kingson in the tangerine goal.
That knocked the stuffing out of Ian Holloway`s men, who had looked good stifling the Blues up until that point. But sadly yet again a lack of concentration was the difference between the two sides in the opening moments.
It took a crunching David Vaughan tackle on the halfway line to really bump the team and crowd up and from then on the game was a more entertaining spectacle. Carney was pushing Bosingwa back five to ten yards and not allowing the right back to get ahead of himself. This in turn gave Stephen Crainey more time on the ball and the Scot looked in fine passing form in his comeback game.
Beattie was bringing midfield players into the game more as he held the ball up amicably. The biggest beneficiary of this was Andy Reid who was jinking his way into attacks more and more, able to bring both fullbacks into play high up the pitch.
Unfortunately, there was a real lack of options for crossers with Beattie the solitary target in the opposing box. The Rangers loan man was being stewarded by Terry and Luiz so closely that he was unable to breathe in the box, let alone think about winning headers.
However, definite improvement was visible and Pool were unfortunate not to be level by half time. Jason Puncheon brilliantly latched onto a loose ball in midfield before driving 30 yards at the Chelsea defence, unleashing a low strike at goal which Petr Cech did well to tip onto his post.
With that to build on, there was certainly fight in the home team yet.
The fight diminished midway through the second half with a highly contentious refereeing decision. Salomon Kalou was slipped inside the left hand side of the Blackpool penalty area and faced with Ian Evatt, decided to drive towards the goal line. He was brought down by the defender but Evatt as he took ball and man, with Mike Dean had no hesitation and pointed to the spot. From then on it was a forgone conclusion that Frank Lampard would double the lead.
That was on 62 minutes and four later the game was put beyond doubt. The Seasiders were still in disarray after the penalty, allowing Lampard to take hold of a Kalou through ball (with Baptiste playing him well onside) to easily slip beyond Kingson to make it 3-0 and curtains.
To make matters worse, the goalkeeper was injured (seemingly from a clash with Didier Drogba in the opening 15 minutes) which meant untried Mark Halstead stepped in for the remaining 25 minutes.
In fairness Halstead didn't have an awful lot to do after that. Brett Ormerod and Matt Phillips replaced the tiring Reid and Carney which gave Pool a surprising impetus which saw them play wider and freer.
Phillips was able to link up well with Crainey and the imperious David Vaughan - who was man of the match by an absolute distance - to not only keep the ball for extended periods but create some chances.
Young winger Phillips raced clear but saw his left footed shot across the angle of goal flash wide.
James Beattie then rose highest at the back post from a deep Crainey cross but saw his header easily saved by Cech before Blackpool got the goal their play had merited. Beattie again was involved (despite fatigue playing a huge part in his contribution) as he found Jason Puncheon who was calm as he smashed a left footed strike past the away keeper and into the corner of the net - showing Phillips how it should be done in the process.
With four minutes left, an unlikely comeback was on the cards briefly as Pool continued to deliver chances but they fell to the wrong players. Ian Evatt had a glorious chance to score with a shot across goal flying wide when he was unmarked and Alex Baptiste cleverly hooked a volley over the bar from a corner.
The biggest opportunity was at the feet of Brett Ormerod who just over six yards out decided to take a touch instead of swing a leg at the ball before seeing his eventual shot closed out by Chelsea defenders.
The second goal killed the game off and really deflated the Seasiders. In hindsight it was the correct decision by the referee and the defeat makes Blackburn away in two weeks a massive six pointer. The loser of that could be staring the Championship in the face. With Charlie Adam, Gary Taylor-Fletcher and Elliot Grandin back, who would bet against us?
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