Date:Wednesday November 2 2011
November 2, 2011 - 19:45
It`s been an exceptionally tricky last few weeks. Blackpool haven`t been playing well, haven`t been getting results and supporters have been growing restless with manager`s tactics and chairman`s spending habits.
But all that was forgotten at Elland Road tonight as the Seasiders smashed 10-man Leeds United 5-0.
A Jonjo Shelvey hat-trick and Lomana LuaLua brace sealed the points for Ian Holloway`s team to move up to eighth in the division.
In truth, Pool were well on top before Tom Lees` sending off just before the second goal.
But they did have Paul Rachubka to thank after the goalkeeper had a hand in all three first half goals with a poor display between the sticks.
The manager made three changes to the side that capitulated at Burnley on Saturday and tinkered with the shape slightly - allowing Shelvey to roam slightly more.
Kevin Phillips, Tom Ince and Brett Ormerod were replaced by Callum McManaman, Lomana LuaLua and Ludovic Sylvestre - starting his first league game in tangerine since the 4-0 defeat at Wolves back in February.
Ormerod failed to even make the bench, with Angel Martinez a surprising inclusion in the squad.
And the changes worked right from the off. The Seasiders had a real zip about their midfield play, helped by Sylvestre`s ball retention, and opened the scoring within 13 minutes.
Jonjo Shelvey had an effort from the left parried by Paul Rachubka but LuaLua - leading the line on his first start for the club - side-footed into the empty net to put the visitors ahead.
Despite not being match-fit, the striker had the instinct to beat Patrick Kisnorbo to the rebound.
The goal seemed to give Pool a much-needed confidence boost but Leeds caused Ian Evatt and Craig Cathcart a degree of difficulty in the air.
Evatt was given the first booking of the game when he cynically brought Ross McCormack down just outside the box. Defending that free kick showed the renewed impetus that was within the team in the first half. Keith Southern does what he does best and harried Adam Clayton, forcing the midfielder into a mistake, and launched a quick counter attack. Although it came to nothing, the ball was moved sharply with intent and is certainly encouraging.
Blackpool fans went from encouraged to elated fairly quickly, with the game effectively over after 25 minutes. United defender Tom Lees was sent off for a deliberate handball and the resulting penalty was tucked away by Jonjo Shelvey to make it 2-0.
Blackpool were given a free kick after LuaLua was brought down by Jonny Howson. Shelvey took it, Rachubka dropped it - as he does - and as an away striker was about to double the lead, Tom Lees threw out a hand on the line to save the goal but not himself, with the defender given his marching orders. Shelvey calmly notched from the penalty spot after having to re-take.
Rather cruelly, the away contingent, who were extremely loud all night, were chanting "there`s only one Paul Rachubka" after the goal, and that was to continue moments later.
Why? Because Ian Holloway`s side made it 3-0 after 31 minutes, and largely thanks to the goalkeeper again. LuaLua, who was a thorn in the home side all half, had a shot spurned by Rachubka and Shelvey - who was relishing his attacking role - rounded the former Pool keeper and slotted home for his second goal in five minutes.
There were ole`s heard from the away end as the Seasiders comfortably saw out the rest of the opening period - although Ross McCormack went close late on, curling over Matt Gilks` goal.
At the break, Simon Grayson took a massive gamble as he made a double swap. Becchio came on up front for Andy Keogh but the big news was that the beleaguered Paul Rachubka was substituted for 18-year-old rookie stopper Alex Cairns who made his debut for the club.
To the manager`s credit, his Leeds side came out all guns blazing at the beginning of the second half. Danny Pugh went close as he shot wide and Gilks was drawn into a decent save moments later, while United had a penalty shout turned down before Howson missed the target.
The Whites should have got a goal back from a corner but somehow the ball wasn`t forced home from a corner by McCormack.
Callum McManaman looked dangerous at the other end but thundered a shot wide after a quick break. And despite being described as "leggy" by Paul Simpson on Radio Lancashire, Macca skinned his full back for a corner but from the resulting ball in Ian Evatt headed over.
An away goal was coming as the Seasiders pressed and probed and it duly came. Lomana LuaLua, who had been involved in the first three strikes, faced up to Paul Connolly - who had just been booked - and sent a shot flying into the corner of Alex Cairns net to make it 4-0 with 25 minutes remaining.
The striker was in fine form all evening, showing his power and presence while having guile on the ball. Kevin Phillips may find it tricky to get back into the starting eleven straight away.
Ian Holloway began making changes going into the final 20 minutes.
Lomana LuaLua was given a standing ovation as he made way for Daniel Bogdanovic, Callum McManaman was replaced by Tom Ince and Keith Southern was given a rest with Angel taking his place in midfield.
t took Angel Martinez just five minutes to make his stamp on the game. He threaded an excellent ball through to Shelvey, on a hat-trick, who easily stroked home to complete his three and to make it 5-0 on 77 minutes.
Seconds after the restart, Angel sent a stinging drive Cairns way but the young goalkeeper made a smart stop.
Bogdanovic had a chip and a drive both fly over the bar as Pool continued to press.
The game petered out as the fourth official put up three minutes of stoppage time, but that couldn`t stop the travelling tangerines from finding their full voice.
It`s unbelievable what a victory - especially such a resounding one - can do for confidence. Blackpool have moved radically from 14th to eighth tonight and Millwall might well be fearful when they travel to Bloomfield Road on Saturday.
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Date:Wednesday November 2 2011
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