Blackpool 5 Torquay United 0- It's still Pantomine Season
John Seckers Match Report (13th January 2001)
Blackpool could be expected to come to this game in a positive mood, after a week in which most of their target players, apart from Hills, had signed new contracts. Brian Reid, having completed his transfer, had also managed to win his fight for fitness and lined up in the defence in a 4-4-2 formation. Lee Collins, however, had a groin strain from training, and Clarkson was dropped to the bench, so the centre of midfield contained Wellens and Milligan.
Blackpool almost started the New Year by giving a goal away inside a minute. Torquay booted the ball upfield, and a hole opened in the home defence for a forward to run through. He passed the ball to a team-mate, who had a glorious chance but missed the target.
It was quickly clear that Blackpool had changed their tactics somewhat, perhaps in response to the pitch, which was very sandy and rough. They were using far more high balls than usual, and doing much less passing across midfield. They were also using Hills less, and pushing up the right, and this was the source for their first good chance. A foul led to a free kick, close to the corner flag, which Simpson took. He struck the ball low and hard, curving in towards the goal. The keeper dived and saved it, clutching it to his chest as two Blackpool players followed up. It appeared that they had been practising this, because it was noticeable that the home players were following up every shot today, which unfortunately is not always the case.
For the next few minutes Torquay had most of the possession, but they could not make any substantial impression, and the next good chance fell to Blackpool. A high ball up the middle was misjudged by a defender, and instead of being cleared, the ball looped up off his head and Ormerod was first to it as it dropped on the edge of the area. He struggled to get it down and under control, but eventually he had it well placed for a shot, but he put it just outside the right hand post.
Paul Simpson was having a good game, and his efforts created the first goal. He picked up the ball some way outside the Torquay box, just left of centre, moved forward and put in a strong swerving shot. The keeper managed to get behind it but he could not hold it, and as it bounced several yards away from him, there was Ormerod chasing in to smash it into the net.
Soon after this Torquay thought they had equalised, when a corner from the left was half caught by Barnes, but spilled into his own net. The referee disallowed it for a push - I did not see anything, but it was at the Kop end, so the ref was closer than I was.
Blackpool continued to play high balls upfield, and they had no more good chances in the next ten minutes. At that point Brian Reid suffered a cut to his right eyebrow, and had to go off for stitches, which took a long time. During this period Blackpool seemed to go completely to pieces, which was partly explained when the substitute board came out and we saw that it was not Reid being taken off, but Hills - it seems he has now pulled the other hamstring. Clarkson came on, playing as a left wing back, with Jaszczun moving inside to form a back three with Hughes and Reid, when he returned. Clarkson and Jaszczun did fairly well up the left for the rest of the game; Tommy went on a good number of runs, not as successfully as Hills, but showing some promise. This seemed to settle the home team down, and they began to put more pressure on Torquay. Simpson took a free kick from right of centre, about ten yards outside the box; he hit it well, but the keeper had a good view and got across to save it comfortably.
The next goal was in fact created by Jaszczun and Clarkson up the left wing. Jaszczun took the ball from a throw, about on the corner of the box, and he nicked a little ball forward for Clarkson, who was running forwards outside him. However Ormerod also went for the ball, running diagonally across the box from the centre, getting ahead of a defender who clipped his legs. I thought Ormerod had made a meal of it, flying through the air with his legs tucked under him, but the referee was only five yards away and gave the penalty immediately. Simpson took it, and tucked it neatly inside the left post with the keeper going the wrong way. However the referee had seen some encroachment, and asked Simpson to take the kick again, to prove it wasn't a fluke. He put it in the same place, and though the keeper went the right way this time, he couldn't reach it.
There were about ten minutes left to the interval, and the nearest Blackpool came to scoring in that time was from a most bizarre near own- goal. Jaszczun got the ball on the left, and began a run towards goal. He went down under a challenge, but the referee gave no foul. The ball had bounced loose, forward into the box. A defender, apparently thinking the foul had been given, drove the ball petulantly at the goal. Fortunately (for Torquay) the keeper knew what was going on and made an excellent save, knocking the ball away; it bounced around the area for a moment before being cleared for a corner. From the kick Brett got up well, but his glancing header just missed the far corner.
After the break Blackpool came out with renewed purpose and they were immediately on the attack. Less than five minutes had gone when Brett chased a long ball down the left, although it looked certain to go out for a goal kick. Somehow he got his leg around the defender and played the ball, which rebounded out for a corner. This was taken short to Jaszczun, who put a cross over. It was headed beyond the far post, where Murphy took it and lobbed it back across the goal again. Reid rose unmarked and placed a header into the top corner.
Blackpool continued to attack, and could easily have scored another soon after. The cross again came from the left, this time supplied by Simpson, who dropped it over the defence to Murphy, just beyond the penalty spot. He had three choices - stoop and head it, volley it or control it and then shoot. It appears that he tried to do all three at once, resulting in a kind of convulsion which left the ball rolling gently into the keeper's hands.
After this the game completely lost its way, with no shape or purpose evident on either side. It was as if everybody recognised that the match was won and lost, so they were just kicking the ball aimlessly about the pitch. Torquay made three substitutions, to no obvious effect, and the crowd was getting pretty sleepy, too. With fifteen minutes left Nowland was brought on to replace Murphy, and whether this made the difference, Blackpool certainly stepped back up a gear for the remainder of the game. Within a couple of minutes they won a corner on the right. Simpson took it, playing a good flat cross to the near post, and Clarkson ran in well, unmarked, meeting the ball perfectly and heading a neat goal. Almost from the kickoff there was another prime chance. The ball was played forward, right of centre, and Ormerod beat his man and was through on goal. He shot past the keeper, but the ball hit the inside of the far post and came back out.
The fifth goal was not long delayed, however. Two minutes later Wellens won a tough challenge on the right, which left him on the ground. The ball was played across the front of the Torquay area to Simpson, who took it well, beat the defender and shot left footed, curving around the keeper into the bottom corner. Blackpool kept pressing, but that was the lot. Reid was named Man of the Match - well deserved, though Simpson or Ormerod would have been valid choices too.
What can you say? It was certainly not a great Blackpool performance, and they have played a lot better and lost in the past couple of months. However you cannot really ask much more of the team than that they should beat the poorer clubs 5-0, and we should give them credit for a job well done. In the past they have failed to wrap up games like this, and it is good to see them showing no mercy, and keeping it going even when they have scored one or two. They will need to do much more against the better teams, but for now let's just celebrate a good week for the club.
Team (4-4-2) Barnes, Coid, Jaszczun, Hughes (Capt), Reid, Simpson, Milligan, Wellens, Hills (Clarkson 27), Ormerod, Murphy (Nowland 76)
Subs not used: Rachel, Thompson, Newell