Friday, 4 May 2012

The Inevitable

The prediction came true then. I knew this would happen, I could see it before the game, the attitude had become too complacent. Blues were on the beach but it wasn’t Blackpool pier.

The game started shakily and I could see that Blackpool were going to get under our skin, they were going forward quickly and in droves, young Tommy Ince was causing all sorts of problems and Steven Dobbie was walking past our defenders. Then, almost at the shore of half-time, the inevitable happened. A poor, pot-luck shot from Ince, originally going wide, hit unlucky Curtis Davies and flew past Doyle. Advantage Blackpool. Now the fight-back begins.

Lucky: Tommy Ince celebrates his punt-shot

That’s not how it panned out, we went in under the cosh and when we came back out, we went straight back under it. Blackpool were going past our midfielders like they weren’t there and when Mutch or N’Daw did manage to scrape the ball away from them, they gave it straight back to the opposition. 

 Blackpool kept attacking and were almost rewarded when Taylor-Fletcher tried to double their lead from six-yards out but Peter Ramage made the save of the game and threw himself in front of the goal to protect Blues’ position.

Woeful: N'Daw and Mutch struggled in midfield
The rest of the second-half dragged on in the same way, Blackpool creating but not taking advantage of a plethora of chances. Then Hughton decided that he was happy at 1-0 and on came Jonathan Spector, replacing Nathan Redmond, who looked a shadow of the player that ran rings around Reading. Spector shored up the position in front of the defence and his arrival seemed to stem the tide of Blackpool attacks.

On the other bench, ‘Ollie’ had two of his subs ready to come on. One of them was ex-Blues hitman, Kev Phillips. We knew the danger he posed and his first touch put the ball in the Blues net, luckily, the linesman saved us with his chequered flag. 

Super Kev: Had the ball in the net against his former club

 The end approached, the subs benches quiet, both managers watching on anxiously, out of nowhere came a glorious opportunity right at the death, the ball was squared to Marlon King, by Mutch, six yards out, King, who had spent the evening being flagged offside, struck the post. That was it, we all knew that the trip really ended there.

Honestly, we were lucky to come away only 1-0 down, it could have easily been four or five. Our midfield was poor and easily overrun, our defence was overworked and our attack was non-existent, if we play like this at St. Andrews, we will not get to Wembley, nor will we deserve to. Mutch and N’Daw should both be dropped in favour of Gomis (who had a wonderful game against Reading) and Spector, Townsend should be back on the left and Zigic should start alongside King and maybe with a bit of heart and a bit of passion, we can turn this sorrow into joy.

My team for 2nd Leg: Doyle; Ramage, Davies, Ibanez, Murphy; Burke, Gomis, Spector, Townsend; Zigic, King.

Subs: Butland, Fahey, N’Daw, Rooney, Huseklepp

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Blackpool vs Blues; A Miserable Bastard's View

So here we are, eight months on, 60 games later and we are at the gates. In fact, we’re banging on the gates, we’re trying to break them down and storm back into the top-flight.

Let’s make no mistakes; it’s been a wonderful season; an incredible European tour, taking two Premier League (well, one now) teams to a replay in the FA Cup and to top it all-off, a play-off place. We can definitely state that this season has been nothing short of a miracle from this squad of 25 and at its helm; our leader: Chris Hughton.

Miracle Man: Chris Hughton at Blues' Award Dinner

However, tomorrow is judgement day for this squad, they face a very tough game at Blackpool. Yet Blues fans have taken a peculiar attitude to this game. Here’s the deal: we have not won the semi-final, we are not at Wembley yet, we do not play West Ham tomorrow.

What we have to acknowledge about tomorrow’s game is that we are playing a great side, they have massive attacking prowess, they have Super Kev, has everyone forgotten what he is capable of? It’s also at Bloomfield, their fans will back them all the way and I’m sure our farmer friend ‘Ollie’ will put fire in those player’s bellies, he will make sure they play to win. So do not expect Blues to storm in there and score four goals, they will make it tough for us, they will get in our faces and they will attack at the slightest opportunity.

Tomorrow, the Blues will have to be disciplined, they will have to hold the line, they will have to be alert for every second of those 90 minutes and we will have to hope that they can bring back a lead for us but we should not be expecting for us to win.

Re-match: Blackpool at St. Andrews earlier this season

You can say I’m being pessimistic, but I’m being realistic, we have to acknowledge other teams and remember, in this topsy-turvy game, anything can happen, but those of you who are lucky enough to be going, please roar the boys on with all your might and see if we can snatch a couple of goals.

For me, it’s a hard game, but definitely one we can win. As the anthem goes “It’s a long, long road, there’ll be joys and sorrows too.” Hopefully, tomorrow will be one of the Joys. Keep Right On.

Predicted Team: Doyle; Ramage, Ibanez, Davies, Murphy; Burke, Gomis, N’Daw, Townsend; Redmond; King.

Subs: Butland, Spector, Fahey, Elliott, Zigic

Key man: Nathan Redmond, should he start, will play a massive role, he had a great game against Reading, let’s hope he can bring that form to this match.

Skin him!: Tricky winger Nathan Redmond caused Reading all sorts of trouble