Crainey Cracker Rescues Point
by Richard Fitton
Blackpool vs. Portsmouth 11/02/2012
The points were shared at Bloomfield Road today on a crisp winters evening. Blackpool started the brightest but some resolute Portsmouth defending kept the home side at bay. Every time the impressive Lua Lua got the ball at his feet he looked to run at the Pompey backline displaying some fine trickery, although the final product was sometimes lacking. On eighteen minutes he took a free kick on the Blackpool left, and his twenty yard effort found the back of the Portsmouth. The away sides blushes were spared by an offside decision given against Chris Basham who was judged to have interfered with play after flicking his leg out towards the ball.
Portsmouth had their share of possession and always looked dangerous on the counter attack. Blackpool relied on the ever present Matt Gilks to keep the scores level. He made several key saves in the first half, one in particular at the feet of the lively Eric Huseklepp. Blackpool fans will remember him well following his last minute winner in the reverse fixture earlier in the season.
At the other end Bednar had his shout for a penalty turned town by the referee and from the replay it looked a hard one to call. Another highlight of the first half came as Gilks received a back pass and was quickly closed down by a Pompey player. Gilks kept a cool head and controlled the ball taking it around the player before clearing it to the home fans delight. There was a good turnout at Bloomfield Road with the home fans making their voices heard, although the long travelled away fans certainly did their part in creating what was a rapturous atmosphere within the ground.
Just as it appeared that the sides would go in level at the break Portsmouth broke down the Blackpool left eventually crossing the ball into the box. Liam Lawrence took this down before finding Erik Huseklepp around the six yard box and Huseklepp showed the presence of mind to take a neat touch out of his feet before expertly swivelling and sending the ball into the Blackpool goal. 1-0 to Portsmouth and the Blackpool fans had that familiar feeling that a second half resurgence would be needed. The Portsmouth fans were understandably elated, especially in light of what has been a difficult season to date.
Soon after the goal the half time whistle blew leaving Blackpool a goal behind and without a shot on target. All was not doom and gloom despite a few boos from the Bloomfield faithful as their team had shown an appetite when going forward and had kept the lion`s share of possession, although they had lacked the all important final product.
The second half started in the same vein as the first with Blackpool on the attack now looking to even the scores and Portsmouth, who had now established a foot hold of their own in the game going in search of a second goal. Ian Holloway brought on the experienced duo of Kevin Phillips and Gary Taylor-Fletcher followed by Ludovic Sylvestre. Following this Huseklepp wasted a glorious opportunity to double the lead for Pompey when he blazed his close range shot across the box when it looked as though he would play in his team mate for what would have almost certainly been a tap in.
This miss was further punished when a superbly taken free kick from the ever present Stephen Crainey crashed into the right top corner of the Portsmouth goal. This lifted the home fans as they wondered if the men in tangerine would be able to gain another win from the jaws of defeat. A crisp volley from Sylvestre warmed the gloves of Henderson, who managed to push the effort around the post and out for a corner. The keeper also tipped another effort onto the post. Despite dominating possession in the Portsmouth half for the final ten minutes and with three minutes of time added on, Blackpool were unable to make their dominance count and the final whistle blew at Bloomfield Road.
A good point for both sides but there was certainly enough chances for both Blackpool and Portsmouth to have taken all three. The encounter didn`t really get going and certainly didn`t reach its full potential. I'm sure in the cold light of day everyone will look back on a hard fought point earned and look forward to the next test at Doncaster on Tuesday where they will look to take all three.