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