Fun at the Seaside

Match report by ALREET at Bloomfield Road

Blackpool 2 Pools 1 (League 2) Saturday March 25th 2017

I cannot remember the last time I ventured up to Bloomfield Road but it was many moons ago when they still had a large terraced bank behind the North End and an old long, low wooden stand running down one side. From memory, there was also talk of rotating the direction of the pitch. 

We had decided to make a weekend of it so on Friday morning, we set off for Euston.

The initial part of the journey north is a bit annoying as it means sailing back past our local station, involving extra time and money. However, having found a couple of inches to store our luggage and before our backsides had a chance to warm our seats, we received a message that due to a fatality in the Watford Junction area, all services had been suspended for at least an hour and passengers were advised to make alternative arrangements.

Having made a quick scuttle across to King’s Cross, I had a word with someone who turned out to be a most helpful individual. Admittedly, I managed to have a chat with him about Pools but, whereas he was directing people to look at the destination boards, he informed us of the platform where our Leeds train was due to arrive so we were in a position to get our case safely stored and, more importantly, occupy seats. Sitting comfortably, we watched what resembled a football crowd trooping past and by the time we departed, the carriage resembled a packed tube train during the rush hour.

Arriving at Leeds, we were met by a similar set of circumstances as we continued our journey to Blackpool via such footballing venues as Bradford, Burnley, Blackburn, Accrington and Halifax. Arriving at the station, we were informed by our taxi driver that there were eight thousand Rangers fans in town who would be attending a testimonial match being held in Fleetwood.

Back in a previous life, I can recall a friend of my mine at the time saying that she didn’t get Blackpool as everyone sat on the beach with their backs to the sea in order to face the sun.

 So, on to the football. Walking through the town looking for the appropriate bus stop, I was offered a sample of a milk shake (ooh er) by a lady wearing a cow costume who pointed me in the right direction. The ground has now been totally transformed and was gleaming in the welcome sunshine. The passageway leading from the turnstile to the seats hosted a series of photographs of their previous players, the gallery providing a nice touch to the stadium. As “new” grounds go, this one is okay and the large, airy stands have a cavernous effect, perfectly suited to the atmosphere created by the magnificent 1,684 travelling Poolies.

Seeing large amounts of standing water behind the near goal line, I wondered about the effect of the subsequent sprinklers but they didn’t appear to have any impact on proceedings.

Prior to the start, a minute’s silence was held in respect of the [terrorist] events in London. Pools were kicking away from our end and soon attacking down our right but the ball pinged off one of their defenders and was collected by their keeper. We won a free kick near the half way line but this came to nothing. The home side had a run down our left and swung in a high cross which Fryer collected.

Blackpool were beginning to apply pressure but Featherstone broke up a promising move and hit the ball upfield which subsequently forced a save from their keeper. At this point, the general play was becoming a bit scrappy from both teams. Blackpool had sensed a weakness down our left and from one dangerous cross, we just managed to head the ball clear.

We mounted a quick counter attack led by Alessandra who moved the ball up to Thomas but his effort was comfortably saved. A long throw-in was deflected out for a home corner which was blocked by Amond but the clearance came straight back, fortunately finding their oncoming No.9 but he was flagged offside.

Walker was having a good game and made a decent run upfield but his misplaced pass meant that we lost advantage. Blackpool won a free kick about twenty five yards out but the effort was fired well wide of our left post.

A long ball from Walker inside our half was met by Amond under heavy pressure. He managed a second stab at it and the ball broke free. While two home defenders dithered, Alessandra took control and with a great turn with his left foot, found space to hit a great right-footed effort low into the corner of the net. It was thoroughly deserved.

Hardly had the dust settled than Blackpool, yet again, worked their way down our left flank and a floated cross was played into our box, landing at the feet of their opposite flank player. He brought it under control and, faced by the seemingly mesmerised Donnelly, sold him the proverbial dummy and moved the ball onto his left foot before burying it into the far corner of the net. Featherstone gave him a right raspberry as they walked upfield for the restart.

We won a free kick but didn’t beat the first man, the ball being cleared to their No.21 who was obstructed by Donnelly, who received a yellow card for his troubles. A cross into our box was headed back where it was just missed by one of their large central defenders lurking at our far post. At the other end, their keeper made a smart stop with his feet from Hawkins at close range.

A goalmouth scramble in the home end saw their keeper keep out a snap shot from Amond. Alessandra, who had posed a threat all afternoon, drilled in a long range shot which their keeper managed to tip over the bar. A good move from Pools saw us win a free kick but it was quickly cleared and Featherstone picked up a yellow card for a cynical hack on his opponent but the ref allowed play to continue before returning to issue the punishment. Thomas attacked on our right but it came to nothing before the ref whistled up for half-time with the score one-all.

We started the second half well and it wasn’t long before Alessandra tried a shot which cleared the bar with Amond pleading for the ball in an unmarked position. This was followed by an effort from Woods who, after a good move, blazed the ball well over the bar from the edge of the box and saw it land high up among the travelling fans. Alessandra then did likewise following a good overlap from Deverdics.

Blackpool hit back with two chances in quick succession; the first going narrowly wide before putting the next past the post when standing unmarked in front of our net. They had a free kick out wide on our right which Fryer punched out from under the bar. A ball into our box bypassed everyone before it was viciously half-volleyed just over our bar.

Amond forced a save with his feet from the home keeper after the ref allowed advantage to us and Walker had a firm header hacked off the line from the resulting corner. The home team took the ball away after being awarded a dicey free kick which ended with an attacker turning sharply before firing into our side netting. Following a scramble in the home box,

Thomas was blocked and hobbled upfield being going down holding what looked like his groin. He received treatment and limped off but managed to return to the fray.
"we can be rather Wengeresque, frequently taking one touch too many when a chance has been created."

Blackpool put a good move together down our right before the ball was put out for a corner. The long ball to our far post saw the ball being hooked just wide.

A long through ball found a Blackpool player advancing on our goal but Fryer saved the ball down at his near post. Another of their attackers moved unchallenged into our box before making a step over and finding one of their late subs. The latter tried his luck and forced a good save from Fryer only for the ball to rebound back to him. Standing on our line, wide to the left of the goal, he lifted the ball up into our box, only to see it drift under our bar and nestle inside our far post. I doubt even the scorer would have the front to claim that he meant it.

Despite this set back, we continued to seek an equalizer right up until the final whistle. Rooney came on for Woods and Thomas beat three men only to see his shot partially blocked and saved by their diving keeper. We played a good ball across their area but no one was in a position to capitalize on it. The ref blew up for time with us still mounting attacks on the home goal.

We were desperately unlucky not to have come away with a point, if not all three, having competed throughout and putting in a commendable performance. In the battle of the Pools, we were definitely not second best in a thoroughly entertaining end to end match.

My one thought is that we can be rather Wengeresque, frequently taking one touch too many when a chance has been created. We certainly didn’t take advantage of our opportunities. Pools played with energy throughout, controlled passing out from the back and plenty of effort up front. On that performance, the future is beginning to look much brighter.

Walker had another impressive performance, closely followed by Harrison, Featherstone, Alessandra and Amond who proved himself a real handful to the home defence. Hawkins was unlucky not to score while Thomas flitted in and out, spending time attacking down the right flank and then appearing in the middle. Woods had a similar effect on the game while Donnelly was generally okay although caught out badly for their first goal.

Deverdics improved as the game wore on but experienced a trepid time early on when his tricky opponent breezed past him to put in dangerous crosses; one of which led to their opener. I’m uncertain why he was asked to play in that position as I understood that he was supposed to be a player who was more effective playing behind the front men.

Fryer is a more commanding figure coming out to collect balls into our box although I’m not sure about a couple of recent shots that have beaten him low down. I had arranged to meet up with my other half for a sherbet in “The Albert and the Lion” situated on the Promenade before moving on for a meal. It was heaving when I arrived but the company was pleasant, well, until one of a group of lads who had travelled across from Blackburn for a birthday weekend asked me if my good lady was my daughter. Grrr.

Needless to say, she was delighted and will almost certainly dine out on that for years to come. The atmosphere took a distinct downturn when a scuffle started with the security guards and a geezer received a nasty wound to his head with blood pouring down his neck. I don’t know how it kicked off but another character then began gobbing off and when he started pushing chairs around, I thought it wise to leave.

While all this was taking place, a very young baby was being passed around at head height to escape the mayhem. An ambulance and several Old Bill eventually turned up to restore order. We had a word with the security guards on our way back but they promptly disappeared back inside as several women came streaming out so not a place to visit on a Saturday evening, it would appear.

Our journey home was uneventful, that is until we made the last leg which involved our local train. We had reached Harlesden when we were held at a red light due to a “railway incident”, and when we eventually got home our forty minute journey had taken nearly three hours. As I have said before, “Reliance on technology, my arse”.