10 Years ago Tranmere R 4 Pool 0
Feature by John Secker
Updated Tuesday, 4th October 2011
A lacklustre Blackpool side came up against Tranmere in ruthless mood, and although the score was perhaps unfair, the result was not
Blackpool's defensive lineup had another makeshift look to it at Tranmere last night. With Reid out, Thompson and O'Kane were together in the centre, with Coid and Jaszczun at fullback. Bullock, Collins, MacKenzie and Simpson were in midfield, although at times Coid pushed forwards and Bullock covered behind him. Tranmere were fielding Stuart Barlow, which is usually an automatic goal against Blackpool.
Blackpool started in lively fashion, and had clearly not come to defend, as they pushed forward right from the start. However they very soon made it hugely more difficult for themselves. As a cross came in. O'Kane let an attacker get the wrong side of him, and then did well to flick the ball away for a corner. However, as the ball came over to the far post, Pullen got stuck in the crowd, and a Tranmere player, running in unmarked, rose to power a simple header into the empty net.
It was another giveaway goal, very like many others Blackpool have conceded this season. They pulled themselves together well, to give them their due, and for the next twenty minutes they were clearly the better side, with most of the possession. Ormerod was working hard, as usual, and Simpson put in some good crosses, but nobody could get the killer touch. A Tranmere player was booked for bringing down Ormerod at full pace on the left, but when Simpson's cross from the free kick came in, Murphy put his header high. The best chance for Blackpool in this spell was from a cross on the right. Someone tried to flick it in low at the near post, but it was blocked and bounced out to Ormerod. He had to jump and twist to get his shot on target, but the keeper was diving out and smothered it away with his chest.
With about twenty minutes gone Tranmere had an attack up their right. A low ball was hit across the area, about ten yards out. Barlow stepped over it, and behind him another Tranmere forward had got in front of his marker, and swept the ball past the helpless Pullen. It was a well-taken goal, but it resulted from another failure in the defence.
This goal marked the point at which Blackpool's dominance of possession began to slip away, as their confidence ebbed, and Tranmere's grew. N'daye was giving the defence all sorts of trouble, and Barlow's pace was causing the usual havoc. He should have made it three when he got ahead of O'Kane and ran onto a through ball, straight up the middle. He took the ball wide past Pullen, and slid it towards the goal. However O'Kane, making up for his mistake, had done well to get back, and slid across to kick the ball clear for a corner.
The letoff did not last long, and within ten minutes Tranmere had extended their lead again. This was the best goal of the match, as a ball was played up to a Tranmere forward, outside the area with his back to goal. He went right, then switched back to the left, leaving Thompson floundering. Having given himself a chance, he turned well and struck a high, curving shot, which caught the inside of the right-hand post, and deflected across the goal, landing just inside the other post. It was a fine shot, and once again Pullen had no chance at all.
Blackpool had still not given up, and Murphy went close with a flick at the near post from a Simpson cross on the left, but once again it was wide of the mark. Barlow thought he had scored again when he jumped into Pullen at the edge of the box, and knocked the loose ball into the net, but the referee quite rightly gave the foul.
McMahon was not looking a happy man, and we can only imagine the scene in the visitors' dressing room at half time. However there was no obvious effect as the second half started, and no tactical switch, either. If Blackpool were to have any chance of getting back into the game they would need to get a goal back in the first quarter of an hour, and although they kept trying, there was still no serious chance. After a foul about thirty yards out, Simpson lined up a shot and hit it over the wall, but the keeper knew exactly what was coming, and was able to stroll across and catch it comfortably. There was little coherence about Blackpool's approach - MacKenzie was getting involved a lot, but although he made several good runs, his final ball was invariably poor. Bullock made a few runs at the defence, and got round the back a couple of times, but he never found a teammate with his ball across.
It was surprising that McMahon had not made any tactical changes with more than three-quarters of the game gone, and his first substitution, when it came, looked more like giving Parkinson a run out as he comes back from injury. He came on to replace Jaszczun, with Coid moving across from right to left back. Not long afterwards Tranmere put the final nail in the coffin. From a corner on the right the ball was headed up inside the area, then Barlow knocked it back out of the area, to a teammate who volleyed it back. It took a slight deflection off Collins, and flew into the bottom corner; yet again, Pullen could only dive despairingly as the ball flew wide of his hand into the net.
There wasn't much more to the game - Tranmere probably looked more likely to score than Blackpool, but the result was quite beyond doubt now.
Blackpool brought on Fenton with ten minutes to go, replacing Murphy, and Milligan came on in place of MacKenzie for the last two minutes. Fenton worked hard for the short time he was on, and should have done better with a chance at the near post, but the changes were much too late to have made any difference. You got the feeling that McMahon had given up on the game at half time, and did not think that there was any point trying anything new. You have to feel sorry for Clarkson, who has been on the bench for most of the games this season, but has had only one brief run out, in the previous 4-0 defeat at Brighton.
The only people in Tangerine who kept going to the end were the Blackpool fans, who never stopped singing throughout, despite foul weather and a terrible result. As for the team, they were not as bad as the scoreline suggests, but there was no doubt that over the ninety minutes Tranmere deserved to win. After the first twenty minutes they steadily took control of midfield, but the most significant difference was the way they took their chances, assisted by more poor defending by the Blackpool defence.
Team (4-4-2): Pullen, Coid, Thompson, O'Kane, Jaszczun (Parkinson 72), Bullock, Collins, MacKenzie (J Milligan 88), Simpson, Murphy (Fenton 80), Ormerod
Subs not used: Barnes, Clarkson