10 Years ago Pool 1 Cambridge U 1
Feature by John Secker
Updated Thursday, 22nd September 2011
Blackpool threw away another two home points today, through poor finishing and defending, in a weak performance against a weak team.
After watching one of the division's better teams on the rack on Tuesday night, Blackpool fans must have been expecting nothing less than victory against a Cambridge side who have had a poor start to their season. There were two changes to the team who did everything except win against QPR on Tuesday night, both enforced. Wellens was injured, and was replaced in midfield by Simpson, while O'Kane was suspended after his dismissal at Oldham, and Thompson came into the centre of defence to replace him, alongside Reid. The remainder of the team were Pullen in goal, Coid and Jaszczun at fullback, Bullock, Collins and Hills in midfield, and Ormerod alongside the transfer-listed Murphy up front.
The match started a couple of minutes early, and at first Cambridge were on the attack, with Blackpool struggling to clear their lines. Cambridge fielded a huge forward, named One, whose speed and height immediately caused problems. However, on Blackpool's first foray upfield, Simpson hit a nice ball behind the fullback for Hills to run on to. The situation was improved when the defender fell, trying to turn, and Hills raced into the space and on into the box. He hit a low cross to the near post, where Ormerod deflected the ball past the keeper into the net.
It was a well-worked goal, but it was immediately clear that this was going to be no walkover for Blackpool. Even before the announcer had given out Ormerod's name as the scorer, Cambridge could and should have equalised. As fast break down their right, with Jaszczun beaten for pace, and a ball slid towards the near post, a mirror image of the Blackpool goal. The only difference was that the forward who met the cross failed to make a good contact, and the ball was smothered.
Blackpool's defence were looking totally disorganised, and soon after they allowed another attack up the right, and again the ball flew across the face of the goal, but no killer touch came. Minutes later, from a free kick wide on the right, the ball was floated to the far side of the Blackpool goal, where a Cambridge forward hit the back of the net with a fine diving header; fortunately for the home team, it was ruled offside.
With his height and speed, we were wondering why One was playing at such a low level, but now we found out. A ball was played over the defence, right of centre, and he ran on to it, clear of the defenders and with only Pullen to beat. As he ran into the area Pullen seemed caught in two minds, but perhaps One was as well, undecided between a shot and a chip, because what he produced in the end was a gentle back pass into the arms of the astonished (and grateful) Pullen.
At the other end Blackpool were not idle, and they too were finding the chances easy to set up, though difficult to convert. It was a case of two teams on the pitch, but no defence at all. To be fair, after conceding so early, the Cambridge keeper had a good game, but he needed some luck when Hills broke through on the left once again. When the cross came over there were several Blackpool players there; a shot beat the keeper but was cleared off the line, then there was a general melee before the ball was eventually scrambled away. The keeper took full credit a little later, when Simpson took a free kick, about ten yards outside the area. He drove it in hard and low, and a Blackpool boot deflected it on its way towards the goal, but the keeper did well to get a hand to it and turn it over the bar.
It was clear from quite early on that Blackpool were not playing in the way that they have done previously this season, with short passing, holding possession and running at the defence. Why this should be was not clear - partly it was the absence of Wellens, who has been very influential this season in midfield. It also seems that Blackpool were responding to the long, high ball tactics of Cambridge, by trying to adopt the same in response. This was a serious mistake - Blackpool should have imposed their style of play on the opposition, not tried to play them at their own game. When they did try to do what they are good at, you could see what might have been. Bullock went on one run at the heart of the defence, broke through, but then tried an ambitious shot for the far corner of the goal, which he put high. Coid also had one fine run in this spell, but as he approached the box he was diverted away from the goal, he couldn't find anyone for a telling pass, and it fizzled out on the wings.
At the other end Cambridge had a string of corners, and long throws, and each time the defence looked unsure, and was always slow to clear the danger. There was another golden chance for One, who had a header at the far post after a long cross, but directed it wide. He was booked soon afterwards, for standing in front of the thrower when Blackpool had a throw-in. He was hit twice in the face; the first time the referee gave Blackpool a free kick for obstruction, the second time One was booked.
After the break Blackpool began to apply more pressure to the Cambridge defence, and almost all the pressure was coming from the home team - though this did not stop the defence looking shaky when the visitors did make an attack. The Blackpool pressure was coming from where it usually comes when they are playing well, with attacks up the left by Hills and Simpson, and the right by Bullock and Ormerod, supported by Coid. Too many times, however, good approach work was spoilt by a poor final ball, or by weak finishing. There was a series of attacks up the right, with Ormerod and Bullock linking up, which resulted in one or the other breaking round the back of the defence into the box. One resulted in Ormerod having a shot, which he hit straight at the keeper's body. Another led to a far post cross, where it found Hills, who tried a volley but put it wide.
Coid had a run at the box, but when he arrived at the edge he could not get his shot lined up, and eventually had to pass the ball back. A long cross from the right came to Murphy's head - he knocked it down nicely for Simpson, but his shot flew wide. A passing move on the left saw Hills run into the area with the ball at his feet, but the keeper came out well and managed to block it, and then hang on as the ball ran loose. Ormerod broke up the middle, and again the keeper came out well at his feet and held the ball, although in this case it would not have counted, as the offside flag was up. The offside flag could not spare Murphy's blushes, though, when he broke free of the defence and had a golden chance to score. The ball was on his left foot, which probably explains why he drove the ball ten yards wide of the target.
The misses continued. Reid had a free header from a corner, but put it a yard high. He had another chance when Simpson was pulled back near the corner of the box, and floated a free kick across the box, but Reid could not get it on target.
With fifteen minutes to go, the strain was clearly telling on Blackpool, and the defence looked more fragile than ever, conceding a string of corners, and struggling to get each one away. There was no sense of urgency about Blackpool's play, whereas Cambridge were breaking quickly. Eventually, with less than ten minutes to go, the inevitable happened. Another corner was conceded, on the Cambridge right, and when the cross came over, Reid lost his man completely, giving him a free header which he gratefully converted.
Blackpool flapped about after this, but for all their bustle they didn't look any more likely to score. Fenton came on, replacing Simpson, and looked lively.
There was a sorry incident when Blackpool won a corner, and nobody went to take it. Eventually Fenton ran over - surely your strikers should be in the box, not taking the corners? Despite several more crosses there were no further clear-cut chances, and the final whistle saw a chorus of boos from the home fans. Blackpool could not really complain about this - they had allowed a poor team to dictate the way the game was played for large parts of the match, they had failed to take the many chances they created to finish it off, and they defended so poorly that to concede only one goal was evidence of good fortune. Having done quite well in a difficult start to the season, Blackpool had their first test today against lower-level opposition, and they failed to take the chance.
Team (4-4-2): Pullen, Coid, Thompson, Reid (Capt), Jaszczun, Bullock, Collins, Simpson (Fenton 87), Hills, Ormerod, Murphy
Subs not used: Barnes, Parkinson, Clarkson, MacKenzie