Liverpool boys swagger in Bristol City rout
October, 1, 2011. 15:00
Attendance: 11, 734
Second half performances to behold from Tom Ince and Liverpool loanee Jonjo Shelvey gave Blackpool their attacking swagger back as they demolished Bristol City 5-0.
Gary Taylor-Fletcher had scored before half time to give the home side the lead before Shelvey fired home a stunning 40-yard freekick on 66 minutes.
Once introduced off the bench, Ince was instrumental in the final three goals - all coming in the last 10 minutes - as fellow substitutes Brett Ormerod and Daniel Bogdanovic (2) made it a rout.
In truth, the Seasiders struggled in the opening 45 and found it extremely difficult to break down a disciplined Robins side who were set up with a point in mind.
New signing Shelvey, who signed on a three-month deal on Friday morning, began on the left-hand side of a midfield three and wasn't able to get a foothold in the game - often drifting too deep to try and make an impact.
The one time he loosened the shackles of a stagnant midfield, the 19-year-old drove forward before firing a shot goalwards which Dean Gerken fumbled, allowing Taylor-Fletcher to bundle home to make it 1-0 on 37 minutes.
Brett Pitman, a one time target of Ian Holloway, nearly equalised moments later. Blackpool were asleep at a corner as the former Bournemouth peeled off his marker before smashing an impressive effort towards the top corner. Fortunately for Pool, Matt Gilks was in inspired form and sprung himself to the left hand side to tip it over for a corner.
The first half was fairly dire with neither team looking likely to boss the game. That all changed after the break.
We always seem to talk about the midfield shape and its triangular shape on this website, and apologies but today is no different. The slight change to its shape - in pushing Shelvey more central and further forward - made Blackpool a true attacking threat.
Barry Ferguson and Keith Southern were able to give quicker ball into the front three (maybe four, depending how you look at it) and Pool were able to play their football in Bristol City territory.
But for all their possession dominance, it was a slice of luck which almost made it two. Craig Sutherland's persistence saw a clearance cannon off him and into the path of Kevin Phillips who bore down on goal. Strangely, the striker didn't look confident and sliced wide when one-on-one, although the ball may have taken a bobble.
Minutes later when Pool were given a freekick just inside the away half, you'd be forgiven for thinking that it was a good opportunity to build and work a way up the line.
But Jonjo Shelvey had other ideas. Flourishing in his advanced role and full of confidence, he arrogantly sauntered up to the deadball and smashed it into the bottom corner of Gerken's goal from fully 40 yards to announce himself to a jubilant Bloomfield Road.
The goalkeeper may feel he could've done better but take nothing away from a brilliant strike.
That was on 66 minutes and five minutes later Steve Thompson - instructed by Ollie from upstairs as he served a touchline ban - rang the changes. Ince, Ormerod and Bogdanovic came on for Phillips, GTF and the impressive Craig Sutherland.
And after a sloppy five minutes where they sat back too deep and allowed Albert Adomah to find time and space in and around the box, Pool clicked into their usual attacking self.
Tom Ince was the main outlet. The former Anfield winger made a mockery of Lewin Nyatanga's defensive ability as he constantly got in behind the left back - who had started the match in the heart of the back four.
Finally, the Seasiders have found a genuine winger that is able to turn defenders both ways and provides a box of tricks a team playing 4-3-3 needs.
The third goal came on 83 minutes. Brett Ormerod had stumbled over a sitter moments before but as Ince worked an angle down the right, Ormerod was able to pick out Daniel Bogdanovic six yards out from the byline and the striker obliged by tapping home.
You would perhaps expect that to be it scoring-wise but Pool weren't finished as the visitors visibly gave up.
As a corner went into its second phase, Craig Cathcart picked out Ormerod completely unmkarked at the back post and he sent the keeper the wrong way to score his first of the season in the second minute of injury time.
The rout was completely in the final minute of stoppage time as Ince raced around the fullback and drew an intelligent ball back to Bogdanovic who swept home to double his goals in tangerine within 10 minutes.
5-0, but it does say a lot about the game that Craig Cathcart picked up my man of the match in a brilliant return to form alongside a solid Ian Evatt.
Ollie got his midfield wrong again but once that was corrected at half time, Pool looked an entirely different proposition. It has to be noted that Bristol City look a beaten side and it would be foolish to get carried away but when pace was injected into the game, the Seasiders looked unstoppable going forward.
Long may that continue with a hopeful return to the swaggering, arrogant, attacking Blackpool we know and love, but that has been lost in recent weeks.
City have their problems, with manager Keith Millen ignoring the travelling fans at the end of the game, with only Louis Carey and Albert Adomah going over to the Bristol contingent to thank them for their support.