The Blackpool side for this home game against Colchester showed five changes from the team beaten so badly by Tranmere - and not all the changes were forced by injury. Jaszczun and Collins were unfit, but John Murphy was starting a game on the bench for the first time in his Blackpool career. Also dropped were MacKenzie and Thompson, the latter to make way for loan signing Caldwell, who played alongside Reid in defence. Parkinson was at right back, with Coid on the left; midfield was Bullock, O'Kane, Jamie Milligan and Simpson, with Fenton alongside Ormerod at the front.
Not surprisingly, perhaps, it took a long time for a team changed so radically to find its shape, and with Murphy missing there was very little competition for high balls. Fenton lost out to the referee's whistle a great deal early on, and was later reduced to standing off the centre half and hoping to pick up any poorly directed headers. O'Kane and Milligan are not in the same class as Wellens and Collins in the centre of midfield, and opportunities were few for Blackpool in the early stages. Most interest was coming up the left wing, where Simpson had a good game, Coid was linking well, and Ormerod was coming over to add his pace. Unfortunately when long crosses did come over, there was often literally no-one there in the box for Blackpool.
In fact it was Colchester who were looking the more dangerous, and inside ten minutes they thought they had taken the lead. A diagonal high ball came over from the left; Reid competed with an attacker, and the ball flicked on to another forward, centre of the box and all alone. He smacked the ball into the goal, but the flag was up and it was ruled out. Twice more in the first half Colchester should have scored, both times from balls up the middle, when the attackers outpaced the defence and ran into the box, right of centre. One of these resulted in a shot/cross from a sharp angle, which ran across the goalmouth with no-one able to get a touch. The second attack ended with a cross to the far post which was headed away. In both cases Pullen covered the angles well, but the attackers should really have done much better.
At the other end Blackpool were probing, but failing to find any way to build an attack. When Fenton was pushed from behind they won a free kick, a little left of the middle, a fair way out from the area. Simpson tried a left-foot bender around the wall, but it was always going much too wide. Another good chance went begging, following good work on the left. Several attempts were made to get the ball across to someone in position to shoot, and eventually it found its way over to Bullock, on the edge of the box on the right. He beat his man well, but finding himself in the clear with space in front of him, he chose to shoot immediately and drove it well wide of the left hand post. Blackpool's best attempt of the first half came from Simpson - after a neat pass he had a fine shot from the edge of the area, which the keeper did very well to get a hand to, and turn over for a corner.
Blackpool started the second half kicking towards the home supporters at the South end. After a couple of frustrating offside decisions, Ormerod finally created the breakthrough. One of his finest talents when he is playing well is his ability to pick up long balls, even under pressure from defenders - he has strength and the ability to know where the ball is going to drop, and he can turn a difficult pass into possession nine times out of ten. He did this up the right wing this time, and beating the defence he ran into the box. When he got to the byline he looked up and saw, once again, no Blackpool shirts in the area. He blasted the ball across the goal, hoping perhaps for a deflection, but it travelled straight across the goalmouth, about a yard out, and continued to roll towards the corner flag. Simpson did well to retrieve it just before it went for a throw - he turned and then, instead of playing a simple cross into the box, he hit the ball diagonally back to Milligan, who was well outside the area. Milligan then hit a first time cross from an angle the defence were not expecting, and the ball dropped onto the head of Ormerod, only a few yards out, and still the only Blackpool player in a scoring position. He took it well, powering it past the keeper.
In the next half hour Blackpool should really have buried Colchester, as they ran almost at will up both wings, but they could never turn the wide possession into scoring chances. Again and again a cross from a promising position found nobody inside the area to profit from it. Coid made one run towards the box, but kept hesitating instead of shooting, and was tackled. Another run by Coid led to a pass to Fenton, who took the ball into the box, on the left. He was nudged, and could have gone down, but he went on and got into a position to shoot, but then hit it tamely at the keeper. At the other end it was only Colchester's poor finishing that kept Blackpool ahead, although the defence was not as bad as it has been. Caldwell made one fine saving tackle, and Reid did well, scrambling with two attackers around him, to hack the ball away for a corner.
With about 15 minutes to go Blackpool made a double substitution. Fenton went off to good applause, replaced by Murphy, and Thompson came on for Bullock, a very defensive move. However in the next ten minutes Blackpool had a stream of attacks. First Simpson drove a shot in from outside the box. The keeper got behind it and held on well, with Ormerod and Murphy bearing down on him. Both Ormerod and Murphy had chances with the ball at their feet in the box, but could not turn to get an effective shot in. A cross from the right bounced free, only a few yards out, but O'Kane, who was closest, was looking the wrong way. Then came the moment which could have sealed it in style. Blackpool had been under pressure, and made a clearance up the right. Ormerod won it from two defenders, and set off towards the area. He ran through the defence, into the box, by which time he was well to the left of the goal. As the keeper came out he fired in a fine shot, across his body. It struck the underside of the bar at the right hand side of the goal, bounced down on the line and out. Oh for a Russian linesman at that moment. As it dropped down Murphy, following up, tried to volley a shot, but the keeper had got back and made the save.
By now the defence was playing very weakly, standing off and allowing the Colchester players to get in their crosses instead of closing them down and competing. Several times they did this and got away with it, although on one occasion an attacker was clean through on the left, but managed to miss both the goal and his team mates with the ball past Pullen. However, with less than five minutes left, Blackpool once again paid the price for weak defending. This time it was Parkinson who stood back and let his man put in a cross. It was headed out, but only as far as the edge of the box where a Colchester player hit a shot which beat the unsighted Pullen into the corner of the goal.
"Not again" was the thought from the home crowd, and the atmosphere in the ground was very dead. However the players kept trying, driving the ball again and again up the left wing where Coid, Simpson and Ormerod were working hard to make something happen. Four minutes of injury time were announced, and almost all four had been played when Coid once again got the ball from Simpson up the left, and turned towards the box. He hit a cross into the middle, about twelve yards out, which landed on Murphy's head. He knocked it down perfectly to Ormerod, a few yards to the side, and Ormerod turned and fired the ball past the keeper's left hand. The goal was so late that Ormerod had already been announced as Man Of The Match before he scored it.
A win is a win, and Blackpool can be happy with their three points from this game. There were some good things to take away, but also some worrying aspects. Caldwell looked good, especially in his first game at the centre of defence. However the defence still looked uncertain, and they really do need to learn to close the opposition down. Up front I do not believe the experiment of playing Fenton and Ormerod together was a success. It's not that either played badly, but they both like to get out wide, and far too often there was nobody at the centre of the Blackpool attack. There is also very little competition for the high balls, and the Colchester centre-backs had an easy time in the air. Blackpool's second goal was a classic combination, with the big target man knocking the ball down for his partner to finish, and I believe that this is still Blackpool best striking partnership.
Team (4-4-2): Pullen, Parkinson, Caldwell, Reid, Coid, Bullock (Thompson 76), O'Kane (capt), Milligan, Simpson, Fenton (Murphy 76), Ormerod
Subs not used: Barnes, Clarkson, MacKenzie