Blackpool cruise past league leaders
by Paddy Feeney
Blackpool improved on their recent performances to cruise past the league leaders at Bloomfield Road in the weekend`s evening kick off. Southampton missed a golden chance to go in front when Matt Gilks saved a Billy Sharp penalty in the first half, and Blackpool never looked back. Stephen Dobbie marked his second home debut for the club with a brace, before Ian Evatt nodded in from a corner to seal all three points.
yebrows were raised when the teamsheet was unveiled, with Barr Ferguson, Stephen Crainey, Craig Cathcart and Kevin Phillips all missing from the matchday squad, with Bob Harris starting at left back, Angel Martinez restored to the midfield, while Dobbie played in the hole behind Taylor-Fletcher up front. Tom Ince and Matt Phillips were both brought back in after missing the defeat at Reading. Southampton were without the division`s leading scorer Rickie Lambert, the 24 goal man succumbing to a groin injury, while Jason Puncheon also missed out on a return to Bloomfield Road.
outhampton dominated the opening exchanges of the game, with Guly Do Prado missing an excellent chance when clean through, only to dink it wide of the goal, while Neal Eardley and Bob Harris were kept busy by Adam Lallana as he covered important ground on both wings. The visitors were well on top, and were given a great chance to lead when Bob Harris was caught out, and Do Prado was about to pull the trigger, Harris dragged him down, leaving the assistant referee no choice but to flag for the penalty.
regular scorer at Bloomfield Road whenever he visits, the world expected Billy Sharp to put the Saints in front, but his weak effort from 12 yards was well saved by Gilks. Moments later Gary Taylor-Fletcher showed great footwork on the left side before bursting into the area, only to be upended by Morgan Schneiderlin. The referee pointed to the spot once again, and Stephen Dobbie gleefully accepted the opportunity to open his account in his second loan spell.
obie didn`t have to wait long for his second, when a long ball from Eardley was flicked on by Taylor-Fletcher, and the Scot showed great pace to get beyond Jos Hooiveld, then strength to hold off the big centre back before guiding a wonderful right footed effort into the far corner with his first touch.
he remainder of the first half was dominated by the Seasiders, with Tom Ince and Matt Phillips causing the visiting back four all sorts of problems with their pace, regularly catching the full back pairing of Butterfield and Fox out of position, and Blackpool could have been out of sight at half time.
he second half saw Southampton make a change, with Steve De Ridder replacing Richard Chaplow, but the Blackpool carried on where they left off, forcing the league leaders onto the back foot with their movement and pace up front. After a succession of corners, Phillips delivered a wonderful cross to the back post which picked out the run of Ian Evatt, who powered a header into the top corner to effectively kill off any hopes of a Southampton come back.
s Blackpool looked to see the game out, the division`s top side started to cause problems, but the new back four looked solid under pressure, with Bob Harris particularly impressing with one goal line clearance from a Sharp flick, before denying the former Scunthorpe and Doncaster man again with a last ditch tackle when Evatt and Baptiste were caught flat footed by a ball into Sharp`s feet 10 yards out.
he substitutions had the desired effects, as LuaLua, Ormerod and Fleck all came on to run the clock down, with Gilks only having to save once from a Danny Fox free kick, and Blackpool held on to a first clean sheet in 14 games, and an impressive win to get their playoff push back on track.