Blackpool 1 Cardiff City 0 - The Dragon Snuffed
John Seckers Match Report (13th February 2001)
Blackpool went into this game playing an unfamiliar 4-3-3 formation, with Ormerod, Murphy and Walker up front, and Simpson, Milligan and Wellens in midfield. Coid moved across to left back, with Thompson on the right and O'Connor alongside Hughes in the centre. The game started as it was to continue, at a fine pace and with both teams showing that they intended to attack. Cardiff's play was well drilled and at times a joy to watch, especially as they pushed up their left wing. Their interpassing and first time balls put the Blackpool defenders under severe pressure, but although several dangerous crosses resulted from these attacks, the defence was always able to cope. The worst moment in these early stages came when the winger beat Thompson for pace to a long ball up the left, raced into the box, and squared the ball across the six yard area. Somehow it beat everybody - keeper, defenders and three attackers - and rolled out on the far side.
Blackpool had their moments, too, though early on these were limited to a couple of hopeful long range attempts from Simpson and Wellens. Thompson showed some good skills on the left wing when he managed to get forward, but this was not often, as there was always a severe threat of a fast break by the visitors. Brett was operating mostly on the left in this half, and a couple of times he made it round the defence, but the crosses never came to anything. There was a close call when Simpson chipped a cross from the left to the far post - it seemed to be floating to Murphy, but a defender just managed to get to get his head there and deflected it for a corner.
A little later Blackpool had a golden chance, again coming from an attack down the left. The ball was played in along the ground - this seemed to be a planned tactic by Blackpool tonight - and it reached the far post where Murphy had a good chance, but it was blocked. Soon afterwards Blackpool had a corner, which produced a scramble at the near post, but the ball was cleared up the Cardiff left wing. The winger just got to the ball before Thompson, and played a clever ball behind the fullback, where another Cardiff forward was racing through, ahead of the defence. His first touch was not great and he let it go a little too far ahead of him. Barnes hesitated, and you could hear the home crowd groan, but then he dashed forward, diving at the feet of the forward and holding the ball well. Barnes had a good night - he was under a lot of pressure, as the visitors had a long throw specialist (Legg), and they were also putting two or three big men in front of Barnes to obstruct him at corners. This is a difficult tactic to counter, but Barnes caught everything he went for, and by the end of the game Cardiff were conceding free kicks in their eagerness to block him.
Before the end of the first half there was another nasty moment, when an attack up the Cardiff right resulted in a player getting round the defence and into the box. He advanced on the near post, then played the ball across. Barnes dived and just got a hand to it, deflecting it slightly, so it went behind the forward running in, and the defence were able to clear it.
Honours were even at the break, and Blackpool came out clearly determined to rock Cardiff back on their heels. Ormerod operated up the right side in this half, and gave the fullback a very difficult time. Within couple of minutes he took him on and beat him, chipping over a nice cross. It was headed over to the far side of the box, where Simpson collected it, and floated it back again to the other post where Ormerod was coming in unmarked. With time to choose his spot, he half-volleyed it over the bar.
The crowd was still settling down after this, when a Blackpool attack up the left resulted in a back-pass to the Cardiff keeper. Ormerod chased after it to put the keeper under pressure, and sure enough the kick was a poor one, falling to Simpson about fifteen yards outside the box. He chipped it up to Murphy, in the middle, and the big man dropped his header to Ormerod, waiting on his left. He struck it on the volley with a sweeping shot which sent it flying just inside the near post - a fine goal.
Only a few minutes later things got better for the home team. Wellens was dispossessed wide on the right, near the corner, but as he lay on the ground the defender stamped on him. This was right in front of the linesman, who flagged immediately, and there was only going to be one result - a red card.
Cardiff did not give up, and Blackpool did not sit back either, so the match continued to be a very entertaining spectacle. The visitors were still dangerous with their fast passing and movement, but still Blackpool's defence coped with everything which came across. At the other end there were many moves down both wings - Coid and Simpson operating well together on the left, and Ormerod virtually alone, but still very effective, on the right. Simpson had a chance with a free kick in front of goal; he hit it very well, but just wide of the right post. Murphy got behind the defence and tried a chip from a tight angle, but the keeper got his hand up to it. Walker also managed to beat the keeper out wide on the right, but he hesitated , unsure whether to cross or to try to squeeze it in directly, and the keeper managed to get back and block it. Everybody was playing well, and even Murphy was seen turning swiftly and putting in a shot from the edge of the box, but it was blocked. Another run from Ormerod resulted in a cross from the right wing over to Simpson, who hit it very well on the volley, but a defender did very well to get a block in.
As time ran out, there was a flurry of substitutions; Cardiff brought on the famous Leo Fortune-West, who did not impress, and then gave a five minute run out to Kurt Nogan. The home crowd were on the edge of their seats - you could see the disaster looming - but in the event the defence held out. In the final minute another good attack led to Simpson putting in a neat cross to the near post where Walker put his header just over the bar - he really should have snapped this one up. However the attack ran down the clock with several forays to the corner flag, and the final whistle went with the score still 1-0.
This was an excellent game, with two of the best teams in the division producing contrasting styles. Cardiff's attacking play is very well coached, but Blackpool's defence was up to it. The home attack was less together - too often one player would find himself alone with the ball in a good position, with no support arriving until it was too late. Cardiff's attackers always knew where their support would be, and they were able to find them more often than not with a first time ball. However it was Blackpool who produced far more clear chances, and took one of them to give a result which, on balance, was the right one.
Team: (4-3-3) Barnes, Thompson, Coid, Hughes, O'Connor, Wellens,
Milligan (Collins 79), Simpson (Clarkson 92),