10 years ago Pool 1 Chesterfield 0

Last updated : 28 October 2011 By John Secker

220px-Chesterfield_FC_svgOn Tuesday night at Wrexham, Blackpool played a stylish, energetic passing game, retaining possession in midfield and controlling the match. This afternoon, against a much more physical and imposing Chesterfield side, they were unable to take control in this way. Instead they battled away, grinding out a narrow victory. It was never pretty football, and they have played better this season for less reward. However the defence was solid, for once, and produced their first clean sheet since August.

There were two pieces of good news on the injury front for Steve McMahon as he prepared his team to face Chesterfield today. In defence he could include Steve Caldwell alongside Brian Reid, who was only wearing a small bandage over his injured eye. In attack he could now name two strikers, as Graham Fenton was fit to play alongside Brett Ormerod. Midfield was O'Kane, Simpson, Bullock and Jamie Milligan, with Coid and Parkinson at fullback.

The first five minutes were all Blackpool, as they pushed forward down both flanks, but they did not succeed in getting in any shots on target. However after this spell of pressure, Chesterfield got forward in attack, and Blackpool realised they had a game on their hands. A slip in the middle of defence presented a free shot to the visitors, but it was blasted high. Chesterfield seemed very inclined to shoot from range at every opportunity, which was strange, because most of the shots were weak or off target, and none of them gave Pullen much trouble. If their scouting had suggested he was vulnerable to long range shots then it was in error - his failings are in other areas, and in fact today he had a good game, with no noticeable mistakes.

Blackpool were under pressure for some time, with Chesterfield winning a series of corners, but they never got a clear head on any of them, with Reid and Caldwell there first. The problem was up front, with Fenton struggling to win anything played forward to him, so that in some ways Ormerod was more isolated than he had been against Wrexham. Parkinson seemed reluctant to push forward, and Bullock, although he tried to run at the defence several times, was always tackled before he could get in a telling cross or shot. As usual, Ormerod was the most productive avenue of opportunities, and he had a good chance towards the middle of the half. He beat his man on the edge of the area, and took the ball in on goal. He hit his shot well, but it was too close to the keeper, who knocked it away, agonisingly close to Fenton running in, but it was a defender who got to it first.

Ormerod had a couple more chances, none quite as good as these, but each time the keeper saved well and hung on to the ball. The most spectacular attempt came when a long ball was played upfield and Ormerod took it on his chest as it dropped over his shoulder. He landed the ball in front of him and struck his shot first time across the area, but once again the keeper was equal to it.

Coid was working hard on the left wing, and made a couple of breaks into the area, but his cross was never telling. As the game moved towards half time, Blackpool had a golden chance. There was a nice interchange on the right, and Bullock got round his man, then hit a high cross. At first it looked as though it would be easy for the keeper, but he got it wrong and it drifted over his head, striking the far post and bouncing out. It avoided three Blackpool players who were waiting, but it rolled across the area to Simpson, who came running in and blasted a shot. Unfortunately he hit it just too high, and it struck the top of the bar and went over.

Half time came and went, and the game continued in much the same vein. Chesterfield were having as much of the play as Blackpool, and were still winning a good number of corners, but the defence were coping well. Just before the hour mark, Blackpool made a tactical change, taking Parkinson off and replacing him with Jaszczun, with Coid moving to right back. He immediately looked more at home pushing forward, and in addition he and Caldwell worked well together containing the Chesterfield attack, which largely came down that flank. In one foray forward, Coid linked well with Bullock, and slipped into the area behind the defence, along the goal line. Unfortunately he was too casual with his pass back, and a defender intercepted it for a corner. On another attack Ormerod got into the box on the right, but his cross or shot was too high and went beyond the far post.

After the substitution, Blackpool seemed to have a better shape, and Chesterfield began to get more physical, with several players booked for fouls. One of them caught Ormerod around the knee and brought him down, not far outside the area. Simpson lined up a shot, which beat the wall but struck another defender and went clear. It did not seem as though Ormerod was badly hurt, but a couple of minutes later he ran through, putting pressure on the keeper, who dummied and cleared. Ormerod slipped as he tried to turn, and hurt his ankle, leaving him limping badly, and we wondered if he would have to go off. He was still hobbling when the ball was passed to him, in a good position on the right side of the box, and his injury suddenly didn't matter. He went one way and then the other, with two or three defenders around him, then he came inside and fired a shot wide of the keeper's right hand. It was going in, but Fenton was following up and made sure from a range of one yard. Ormerod then had to go off for treatment for several minutes on the sidelines, but he was able to come back on.

Chesterfield were very much still in the game, and kept the pressure on Blackpool, aided by some dodgy refereeing decisions. However the defence were holding out well - Reid and Caldwell were winning everything in the air, and when the ball got loose in the box, Blackpool were first to it for a change. There was one worrying moment when Jaszczun tried to play football instead of clearing it, losing out in the area, but again the danger was squashed.
With fifteen minutes to go, Wellens came on to good applause, replacing Bullock. He looked good straight away, and if he is back and fit then prospects are good. Blackpool spent much of the rest of the game on the attack, running the clock down, but there were still anxious moments. The worst came when a dive on the edge of the Blackpool area fooled the referee into giving a free kick, in the middle and only a couple of yards outside the box. However the shot came in and Pullen held it comfortably. Four minutes of injury time went by, and Blackpool had kept a clean sheet at last.

This was a good win, although not a classic performance, and given the number of players out Blackpool can be well pleased. Most encouraging was the defensive performance, which was much improved in all respects. Coid was man of the match, well deserved for both defensive and attacking contributions. He is a great player to have in the team, expanding the tactical options greatly. He is clearly happier on the right, but does a fine job when needed at left back, and he is a player to watch.

Team (4-4-2): Pullen, Parkinson (Jaszczun 56), Caldwell, Reid, Coid, Bullock (Wellens 75), O'Kane (capt), J Milligan, Simpson, Fenton, Ormerod
Subs not used: Barnes, Thompson, MacKenzie