Starting to Believe? // Blackpool F.C. – November

It’s that time of the month again where we all sit down and look back at what may have been a terrible or utterly brilliant month for our respective clubs. However, starting this month we welcome two new guest-writers to Team Pitchside; last but certainly not least, is Jon Carter, a rather large fan of Blackpool Rock as well as the football team… 

Nottingham Forest 0-1 Blackpool:

The Seasiders began November with a win away to high flying Nottingham Forest. In a tight game it looked like Tom Ince’s penalty miss would cost us dearly, but Stephen Dobbie struck in added time to send all three points back to the Seaside.

Forest were holding on for most of the match having had Djamal Abdoun sent off in the 34th minute, and had goalkeeper Karl Darlow to thank for keeping them in it on numerous occasions, denying Ricardo Fuller and Tom Ince amongst others. Dobbie’s finish into the bottom right-hand corner of the net condemned Forest to their second straight defeat and pulled Blackpool clear in fourth, unbeaten in seven games.

Performance Rating: Grade B+; a very solid display away to an improving Forest side, and one that filled the team with confidence for the month ahead. Before the game a point would have been acceptable, but with a missed penalty and red card we were good value for an important three points here.

Blackpool 2-3 Ipswich Town:

A first home defeat of the season was in store against the Tractor boys, and it was one of those games where you could see it coming from the off.

This season’s Blackpool side are a team who never start well, but always manage to pick it up in the second half and grind out a 1-0 or a 0-0; indeed we only ever held a two goal lead this season in the final minute of the opening game against Doncaster. So when Stephen Dobbie bagged his second in two games it was a cautious celebration that greeted it.

Ipswich, who we beat 6-0 in the reverse fixture last season were certainly out for revenge, and for the life of me I cannot remember us ever playing a ‘normal’ game against them. Ipswich came out after the break and turned it around with Frank Nouble equalising and Paul Taylor looking to have sealed the points late on, and though Steve Davies grabbed an injury time equaliser it was back to the Blackpool defence of old to steal the show.

From the kickoff a long ball up field wasn’t dealt with, and from the resulting corner Daryl Murphy nodded home following a goalmouth scramble which left us ruing missed chances, and sending them to only a second defeat of the season.

Performance Rating: Grade D+; a result that left a nasty taste in the mouth for a few days this one. A team that on league standings we should beat comfortably turned us over in farcical fashion in the final minute, in one of those defensive displays you want to forget. This left a week to ponder just whether the wheels might be coming off Paul Ince’s tactical setup.

Birmingham City 1-1 Blackpool:

Ricardo Fuller earned the travelling Seasiders a share of the points at St Andrews, stopping the rot and keeping us comfortably in the play-off positions.

In a scene from Keystone Cops Jesse Lingard put the hosts ahead, after a comical attempt at a clearance from Kirk Broadfoot, and it looked once again that defensive errors could cost us.

Ricardo Fuller however had other ideas and stroked home a lovely finish into the bottom corner from Tom Ince’s squared ball on 36 minutes. For the rest of the first half it was the Seasiders who dominated, Fuller having an effort saved by keeper’ Darren Randolph and Stephen Dobbie firing wide from inside the area, though at the break both sides went in level.

The second half was a more end to end affair, with Matt Gilks claiming a simple volley from Dariusz Dudka at the second attempt and Dobbie once again threatening with a free kick. Ince was able to round Rudolph only to see his effort cleared off the line, whilst Tyler Blackett on loan from Man Utd produced two goal line clearances one after the other to keep the scores level at the final whistle.

Performance Rating: Grade B-; a result that stopped the rot, and a fair one in the end. Both teams had chances to win the match and though a win would have been a great result the point keeps us in the hunt for a play-off position and maintains the pressure on those above us.

Blackpool 2-0 Sheffield Wednesday:

A first win in three on the last day of November, and what a crucial one it was too.

Sheffield Wednesday who began the day just outside the bottom three ended up inside it and also manager-less after Ricardo Fuller and Dan Gosling gave the Seasiders all three points.

A game which we dominated from the off with Ricardo Fuller volleying in at the near post from a Tom Ince corner after six minutes was wrapped up late on after Dan Gosling poked in from close range.

This was Paul Ince’s first game back after a touchline ban and he will have been pleased at how comfortably his team coped with a lacklustre Wednesday side. Dave Jones will have been ruing a golden opportunity when Jeremy Helan put the ball wide of the goal when it looked easier to score, but it was ultimately the Seasiders who deservedly got the three points.

Two interesting points from the game: 1 – Blackpool have had more possession in their away matches than their home matches all month which suggests that Ince’s defensive strategy is suited to counter attacking other teams rather than going for the win.

2 – Ricardo Fuller produced some ‘unbelievable tekkers’ late on, style rainbow flick over Owls defender Reda Johnson before smashing wide, shades of highlight reel specialist Jay-Jay Okocha. As a supporter of a ‘small’ club like Blackpool I never thought I’d see something like that at Bloomfield road, from a home player at least.

Performance Rating: Grade A; a very satisfying win against the Owls and with other results going our way as well it sets us up for a busy Christmas period in a fantastic position. This was the first time this season we comfortably saw out a match, and with players still to come back from suspension and injury we head off to Yeovil on Tuesday night on a high.

Overall Rating: Grade B; overall a successful month, maintaining league position and building confidence. Two wins and a draw were not a bad return, and but for a last gasp winner we could have gone through the month unbeaten. The Ipswich result knocked the stuffing out of the team a little and with a solid result there the Birmingham result might have been different. All in all we’ve set ourselves up for a busy Christmas period well and the fans are slowly starting to believe in this new look side.

Jon Carter


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