Onwards + Upwards...
Valley Parade, Bradford
24th March 2007, 3pm
It is a phrase that has been used many times amongst 'Pool fans over the years - one of our Forum members has even made it his own signature phrase!! - but the fact of the matter is that it has never been as much of a reality..as it is right now...
Blackpool were forced to make changes for today's game with Bradford at Valley Parade - a stadium steeped in history, but with a real possibility of being a 4th tier stadium next season! Kaspars Gorkss was away representing Latvia in the European Qualifiers, while Shaun Barker missed his first game for the Seasiders through a suspension against Yeovil last Saturday.
obbie Williams made his Blackpool debut at left back, while Danny Coid switched to his preferred right back position and Club Captain, Michael Jackson, slotted back in at centre back after sitting out the last few games with a virus. 'Pool's other loan signing, Chris Brandon, missed the game through illness.
Blackpool - and Willaims - couldn't have wished for a better start, as the Barnsley loanee scored within 6 minutes of making his debut to put the Tangerines 1-0 up - a superb header which sent the fans into raptures - including our very own part-time Vital Prawn Sandwich brigade who shall remain nameless for the time being!
Bradford started out the second half on the ascendancy and the pressure eventually paid off. After Billy Paynter saw a long-range shot deflected off Michael Jackson for a corner and Scott Vernon blazed over on 56minutes, Adrian Forbes was caught in possession inside his own third of the pitch and Omar Daley fired an unstoppable strike into the back of Paul Rachubka's net from 25 yards out.
Steve Schumacher was sent off for his second bookable offence thanks to a challenge on Claus Jorgensen - who could easily have been sent off himself in the 50/50 challenge that resulted in Schumacher's booking.
Adrian Forbes was replaced by Keigan Parker on 71 minutes and not long after, midfielder David Fox almost saw his curling freekick beat the Bradford 'keeper to the far post.
The extra man aided Blackpool's hunt for a second goal and they were ultimately rewarded on 77 minutes when Andy Morrell slotted home his 14th goal of the season. Wes Hoolahan and Claus Jorgensen combined well, with Jorgensen supplying the final killer ball for Morrell to net 'Pool's 2nd of the game.
David Fox was then replaced by Simon Gillett and with 7 minutes remaining, Marcus Bean got his first taste of first team action since January when he replaced Wes Hoolahan.
Keigan Parker had the chance to make the score 3-1 late into the game, but his cross-shot was blocked by the Bradford defence and eventually cleared. The Scot then became the 5th 'Pool player into the referee's book after being adjudged to have dived around 40 yards from goal.
With 3 minutes of stoppage time played, Scott Vernon slotted home Blackpool's 3rd of the game and 14th of the season after a break-away attack when Bradford had thrown everyone forward in search of an equiliser.
A fantastic win for Blackpool today then, and once again, one more step towards securing a playoff place. Unfortunately, Yeovil won, as did Bristol City and Nottingham Forest. However Scunthorpe slumped to a 2-2 draw away at Leyton Orient and had to come from behind in the game twice - the second time was the last minute equiliser from, who else, Billy Sharp!
wansea also got maximum points, but Tranmere lost 2-0 away to Bournemouth which helps Simon Grayson's side tremendously.
With Carlisle facing Tranmere next friday evening, followed by Bristol City vs Nottingham Forest and Oldham vs Yeovil on the saturday, a win at Rotherham tuesday night - our last remaining game in hand - and maximum points from the game against Crewe next Saturday could mean that we are seriously contemplating a top 4 finish in the division come the end of the season - which will probably be determined with the game in 2 weeks against Tranmere and the last two games of the season, Scunthorpe (H) and Swansea (A).
I wonder how long it'll take Hoggy and friends to start chanting the famous 'Que Sera Sera...' chant...because come May, we could very well be on our way to Wem-ber-ly...