10 Years Ago - Blackpool 1 York City 0
Blackpool 1 York City 0 - Another Three Points
John Seckers Match Report (27th January 2001)
Unfortunately the Football League does not award three points for "being the better side", you have to "score more goals", and for most of this game it looked as though Blackpool were incapable of doing so. Eventually a single shot broke the deadlock, and it triggered a brief spell of action in which Blackpool could have scored two or three more. However they still put their supporters through the customary ten minutes of worry at the end of the game, as they invited York to come at them and equalise.
Paul Simpson was on the injury list for today's game, and Steve McMahon's response was to use a 4-4-2 formation, with Coid and Hills on the flanks of midfield, and Milligan and Wellens in the centre. Phil Thompson came in to play behind Coid as a conventional right back. With Simpson missing, the responsibility for creating danger in attack was going to fall more heavily on Hills, but it seemed to me that he was either slightly injured, or he was scared of pulling a hamstring again (or both), because we saw very little of the running at the defence which we have come to expect from him. Coid clearly felt more comfortable getting forward, having been freed from the defensive role, and he was involved in attacking moves at least as much as Hills, which is not usually the case.
In fact the number of serious attacking moves was strictly limited, despite the fact that Blackpool had by far the majority of the possession. They spent a lot of time wide on the wings, but the ball rarely came across, and when it did there was never any danger - it was either too long, too short, or played behind the attackers. The best opportunity came when Hills was put in behind his fullback, and played a low cross from inside the area. Several Blackpool players had a swing at it, but somehow they all missed, and the ball rolled across the area and was cleared. Soon afterwards Wellens had a run up the left and then into the centre - he released the ball and put Coid in possession, running into the box on the right. Coid went to shoot, but a defender got his foot in the way and blocked it for a corner - Blackpool's only one of the half.
The best chance of the first period, and indeed the only shot on target by either side in the first 70 minutes, came from a run up the middle which was stopped by a fairly mild foul. The defender deliberately stood over the ball, preventing Milligan taking a quick kick, so the referee booked him and advanced the kick ten yards, which put it in a dangerous position not far outside the box. It would have been an ideal situation for Simpson, but he was not there, so Milligan rolled it sideways to Hills. His shot was hit well enough, but along the ground, which took the pace off a little, and the keeper got behind it and held it comfortably.
At the other end York were only looking dangerous when Blackpool allowed them to, which was not all that often. There were a couple of free kicks given against the central defenders which had to be dealt with carefully, but the worst moment came from a corner. It was headed out, and a midfielder (Milligan I think) blocked a shot on the edge of the area. The referee decided he had fouled his man in doing so, and Blackpool had to defend a direct kick no more than a couple of yards outside the box. The shot when it came was hard and low, but a defender got a foot to it and put it behind for a corner. A little later Wellens got himself booked for picking the ball up after a free kick had been given against Blackpool, particularly stupid in view of what had happened to the York defender earlier.
After the break there was no sign that any changes were going to result from the half time talk - Blackpool were still struggling to line up a shot, although they were getting the ball upfield often enough. Murphy had a couple of chances when he got possession inside the area, but the ball was never in the right place for him to shoot, and it was painful to watch him trying to turn and find the angle - he is about as nimble as a supertanker. It was noticeable that for long spells Hills and Jaszczun were swapping places, with Hills in the left back slot, but Jaszczun does not have Hills' close control or quite the same speed at the defence. In fact as the half went by Ormerod began to play more out wide on both flanks of the attack - he has the ability to make things happen, but it leaves only Murphy in the middle, and he is then marked out of the game.
In the end the goal came from another innocuous looking attack. Blackpool went to put in a cross from deep on the left, and a defender stuck his hand out and stopped it. The referee decided he was a foot outside the box, an opinion not in agreement with that of the home supporters. The ball was about fifteen yards from the centre of the pitch, and when the referee had forced the wall back ten yards, Wellens took the kick. He hit it around the far end of the wall, and although the keeper got a hand to it he only deflected it slightly and it wound up in the far corner of the net.
Less than a minute later Ormerod could have wrapped it up for Blackpool. The ball was bouncing loose in the York area, and he got between the defender and the goal, but he failed to make the contact necessary to push it past the keeper into the net.
Less than five minutes after scoring, Wellens was injured in a tackle near the York area, for which, oddly, he was penalised. McMahon made a double substitution, bringing off Wellens and Milligan, and replacing them with Collins and Clarkson. Blackpool soon had two good chances to add another goal. In each case Ormerod was put clear down the wing, first the left and then the right, but in each case the support was slow in following him, and his crosses failed to find the players who had arrived in time.
Blackpool were clearly thinking about the end of the game, and they began to let York take control, so for the last five minutes, and into injury time, they gave away possession far too easily; fortunately the defence held firm, with Reid getting the Man of the Match award. At last Blackpool got a grip, and the ball spent the last couple of minutes in the corners of the pitch at the York end, until the whistle went to announce another double for the season.
Well, we managed to win the game when we were not playing well, which is what you need to do if you want to win promotion. Without Simpson, and with Hills effectively out of it, the midfield lacks anybody to produce the goods in a positive way. Bushell can inspire, but he does it too rarely; Milligan and Collins are basically ball winners, not creative, and Clarkson is also not a player to set things alight, although he can finish. Still, we can't complain - the defence didn't do anything too silly, and we have now played three, won three, with three clean sheets in 2001. We are one place out of the playoffs, with a game in hand, and I think all of us would have settled for that back in September.
Team (4-4-2): Barnes, Thompson, Hughes (Capt), Reid, Jaszczun, Coid,
Milligan (Collins 77), Wellens (Clarkson 77), Hills, Ormerod, Murphy
Subs not used: Kennedy, Newell, Nowland