John Seckers Match Report (3rd February 2001)
10 Years Ago - Pool 6 Scunthorpe Utd 0
John Seckers Match Report (3rd February 2001)
After a series of victories against relatively lowly opposition recently, Blackpool saw the visit of Scunthorpe, only a few points behind them in the table, as more of a challenge. In the event Scunthorpe were comprehensively demolished, helped along to their doom by losing a key striker, sent off after only ten minutes. Blackpool had an embarrassment of chances, and only failed to reach double figures by trying to be too elaborate when the goal beckoned. The contrast with last week could not have been more vivid; there were too many chances to count, and every member of the team played well. Only the fact that they were playing ten men prevents this being judged as Blackpool's best performance for years.
The only change made by Blackpool for the visit of The Iron this afternoon was the welcome return of Paul Simpson, whose creative influence was badly missed last week against York. Space was made for his return by the removal of Phil Thompson from the team, with Coid dropping back from midfield into defence. Scunthorpe brought Ipoua and Torpey, a formidable striking combination, and were well fancied before kickoff.
It was immediately clear that Simpson's return would make a difference to Blackpool's attacking ideas. He announced his arrival in the first couple of minutes, picking up the ball outside the box, right of centre, pushing forward and hitting a hard shot, which the keeper did well to hold onto. Blackpool started to push forward on both sides, wide on the wings and also in towards the centre. On the left Hills and Jaszczun were playing alternately up and in defence, with Hills quite often to be found in the left back slot while Jaszczun pushed forwards. On the right Coid was working well with several partners from time to time, Wellens, Ormerod and Simpson all joining him to take on the Scunthorpe defenders. In the first few minutes there were a number of attacks on each wing, but the final cross was never quite good enough.
After eight minutes, another cross was swung into the box from the right. The Scunthorpe keeper punched it straight into the air, and when it came down it was headed towards goal, past the keeper. A defender on the line punched the ball out from under the bar, an obvious penalty and a certain red card. Things got even better when we realised that the man sent off was none other than Stephen Torpey, the Scunthorpe captain and star striker. Simpson had to wait with the ball in his hand for about two minutes, but once everything was sorted out he put the ball on the spot, and struck it firmly into the right hand corner of the goal.
This was good enough, but it got twice as good within less than two minutes. Simpson received the ball on the right, and played it forward for Ormerod to chase and catch. He was free of the defence, wide on the right, and had time to pick his cross. He played it low to the near post, where Murphy was coming in. It was perfectly placed for the big man, and he made no mistake, planting his shot firmly into the roof of the net.
Blackpool were still not satisfied, and continued to press Scunthorpe back relentlessly. The next breakthrough came from the left, where Hills combined with Jaszczun to put the latter on a run at the defence, which resulted in him being brought down about ten yards outside the box, left of the middle. Simpson came up to take it, but instead of blasting it he set up a move which was obviously prepared on the training ground. He passed it forward and across to Milligan, on the edge of the box right in the middle. In turn he hit a pass back across, behind the wall, where Wellens had timed his run perfectly and took the ball with only the keeper to beat. This he did with some composure, and Blackpool were three up. The Scunthorpe defence could only look at each other in bemusement, and the game was in effect over as a serious contest.
Not that Blackpool gave up trying, and for the next ten minutes or so they continued to put Scunthorpe on the rack. There were many dangerous attacks, but two stand out. One of them came from Ormerod's persistence down the left, chasing after a long ball and turning his man with a clever move. He ran into the box, but he pulled the ball back diagonally without looking up, and there was no-one there at all. A little later Wellens took the ball forward and lined up for a shot, but he waited too long and allowed his drive to be blocked.
As the half went on you could feel that Blackpool were losing the fire in their play, and starting to settle back and relax. They were playing a patient passing game, which was fair enough at 3-0 ahead, but they were allowing their advantage of an extra man to make them careless. The Scunthorpe attack were still dangerous looking, fast and strong, and it would only need one bad mistake to let them in and spoil the record of clean sheets this year. This nearly happened when a near post cross from the right saw Ipoua first to the ball, but his shot was too high and wide. Barnes might have covered it if it had been on target, but it was a warning. Soon afterwards Jaszczun was shielding a ball out for a goal kick when the referee awarded a free kick against him for obstruction. The kick was played across at head height; Barnes failed to reach it cleanly, and the ball bobbled around in the goal mouth for agonising seconds as various defenders managed to keep it away from the attackers feet, and finally it was cleared. Again, before half time, carelessness could have led to a goal; a series of lateral passes across the defence finally resulted in one which went to a Scunthorpe player on the left. He struck a good cross; it looked as though Barnes would get it, but Ipoua was lurking and Reid headed it out for a corner, to the keeper's annoyance. Fortunately the resulting kick was cleared without too much trouble, and the teams went in for the break with Blackpool still 3-0 ahead.
Steve McMahon must have given the home side a wake-up call in the changing room, because they came out for the second half with their attacking fire rekindled, and they immediately had Scunthorpe pinned back in their own area. Hills and Jaszczun in particular were finding acres of space on the left, and launched repeated attacks from that side. Another good source of threats was Ormerod, running on to through balls all across the pitch. Blackpool were playing balls forward very well, and were hardly ever caught offside, in contrast to the Scunthorpe attack who were repeatedly caught. Reid and Hughes are working well together now, and are looking very good as a partnership.
Despite the many attacks, another goal was slow to come; at times you felt that Blackpool had too many options, and too much time to think, so they delayed when an immediate pass or shot might have been better. However, just before the hour mark they won another corner of the left. Simpson took it short, then took a return pass and played a cross in from the corner of the box. Wellens flicked it on, and there at the far post was Reid, who took it coolly and slotted the ball under the keeper into the net.
Still the home team were not done, and it was only four minutes before they struck yet again. This time it was Simpson who set it up, slipping the ball forward to allow Ormerod to run into the box on the right hand side. Ormerod deserved a goal, but as he turned and fired a shot low at the near post, the keeper got across well to block it. Murphy was following up and he, a defender and the keeper got into a tangle with the ball. Finally Murphy, though lying on the ground, managed to swivel and push the ball into the net.
This time Blackpool did not relax, and though another goal did not come, it was not for lack of trying. However they were again perhaps too ready to take an extra pass to a free man, rather than do the simple thing, and they could not quite find the killer touch. Three substitutions were made - Simpson, Hills and Milligan went off, and were replaced by Nowland, Clarkson and Collins. Nowland did a lot of chasing, but failed to create when he had chances to do so - he has not developed as well as he promised a season or so ago. He did, however, nearly produce a fine goal in injury time, when he took the ball on the right, ran into the box and produced a sudden fierce left foot shot which only just failed to beat the keeper into the top corner. At the other end the defence coped well with the visitor's attack, which never gave up - Ipoua worked especially hard, but to no avail. They did get a free kick just outside the box, but Barnes got solidly behind the shot and held it well. Blackpool had many more attacks which resulted in scrambles in or around the box, but with Hills and Simpson off there was less service down the wing and there were no more goals. We can hardly complain, though, and we need to keep some to spare for the tough matches to come later this month.
So what is the verdict? It was such a comprehensive defeat that it is tempting to conclude that Scunthorpe, especially with only ten men, were poor opposition. In fact they were not - they kept trying throughout, and their forwards always looked threatening. The fact was that Blackpool dominated the game from start to finish, they played well in all departments, and they can take real pride in this result. If (and it is a big if) they can repeat this form, there is no limit to their ambitions for the season - no team in the division could have held them today.
Team (4-4-2): Barnes, Coid, Hughes (Capt), Reid, Jaszczun, Wellens, Milligan (Collins 75), Simpson (Clarkson 79), Hills (Nowland 68), Ormerod, Murphy
Subs not used: Kennedy, O'Connor