Fun in the Sun as Blackpool triumph after a few wobbles
Feature by INOIT
Updated Tuesday, 27th March 2012
Blackpool won the LDV Vans Trophy 10 years ago with a comfortable scoreline which concealed some nervous moments in the first half.
After all the arguments about team selection in midweek the Blackpool lineup at a sunny Millennium Stadium this afternoon was back to a familiar look. The two injury doubts were resolved - Marshall was in the team, alongside Clarke, but Coid did not make it and O'Kane took his place at right back. Barnes was in goal, and Jaszczun at left back. The midfield had Hills, Collins, Wellens and Bullock, and up front were Murphy and Taylor.
Blackpool kicked off, defending the north goal in front of their own fans, who far outnumbered the Cambridge contingent, and they were soon on the attack. Within a minute Bullock put over a cross, but Taylor only got a glancing head on it, and it ran out to the left. Hills crossed it in again, but Murphy headed over. A minute or two later, as Blackpool pushed forward up the middle, a defender slipped on the edge of the box. The ball was played left to Taylor, who perhaps had more time than he thought, because his shot was hurried and well wide.
However these misses were forgotten in the fifth minute, when Blackpool won a corner on the left. Wellens took it short to Hills, who played it on to Collins, still outside the area. He came in towards the middle, looking as if he might shoot, but instead he floated a curving ball diagonally across the defence towards the far post. Murphy, racing into the six yard area, threw himself forward for a diving header which flew past the keeper and into the net.
It was a well worked goal, and for the next fifteen minutes or so Blackpool were entirely on top. Chances came fast and furious - Taylor was put clean through, but the keeper saved it, and then Wellens ran onto a through ball on the left and again was one-on-one with the keeper, but his shot slid beyond the right hand post. Generally Cambridge were struggling to put passes together, and Blackpool had the game well under control. The only slight worry was that one of their forwards was looking dangerous when chasing the long ball, getting behind the defence a couple of times.
After about twenty five minutes it was this route which led to Cambridge getting back in the game. A long ball was played up their right, and the forward latched onto it. As he ran into the area he seemed to have played the ball too far ahead, and Barnes came out to smother it. However the Cambridge forward had got mixed up with Jaszczun, and the referee judged that it was a penalty. It probably was, although there was no danger of a goal; Jaszczun was booked, but this can surely only have been for dissent. The Cambridge captain took the spot kick, blasting it up the middle as Barnes dived to his left.
The goal had been against the run of play, but Blackpool now did their best to make it look as though Cambridge had deserved it. They stopped competing, began standing well off their opponents and gave the initiative away completely. As often happens the panic communicated itself throughout the team, so that even when Blackpool did win possession they soon gave it away, and when they were on the attack the support was just that bit slower in coming forward. Cambridge had a series of corners; Blackpool dealt well with most of these, but a cross in to the near post could have led to disaster. Barnes hesitated, a forward got in first but his glancing header went wide. There was even more danger minutes later, in a move almost identical to the one which led to the penalty. This time a forward got clean through into the area on the right, but Barnes came out well and got down to the shot to save it. Five minutes before half time Marshall limped off, and Hughes took over his position, and the captain's armband, to great cheers from the Tangerine supporters.
In injury time of the first half Blackpool were on the attack, and a through ball found Taylor clear in the box. He may have thought he was offside, because he hesitated, but he still had time to shoot, and again it was saved.
After half time Blackpool were attacking the goal where their fans were gathered, and within moments Taylor had another great chance, again put through on the left, but again he failed to convert it. Minutes later Jaszczun combined with Hills on the left to put the latter clear round the back of the defence. He rolled it into the middle where Taylor took it with his back to goal. He could have rolled it back to Wellens; instead he decided to try to turn and shoot, but it was smothered.
Not long after that Hills made a run forward, and decided to try a more direct approach, driving a shot from just outside the box. The keeper saved this well, turning it around the left hand post. The corner came over and was headed out for another. This one was cleared high out of the box to Hills, who volleyed it to Wellens wide on the left, and a defender brought him down. Wellens himself played the free kick into the box, in towards the near post. Someone, possibly Murphy, got a slight touch, and there was Chris Clarke in the middle to drive it home from close range.
From this point on it was mostly one way traffic, though we should mention one attack where a Cambridge forward took a shot inside the box, but drove it just wide of the right hand post. This was nothing compared to the chances Blackpool had, too many to mention, though Bullock, Wellens and Taylor were all culprits. As is usually the case Blackpool were at their most dangerous when Hills was driving forward, and he had a couple of good chances; one was saved, and one was driven across the goal mouth, just wide. He got around the back of the defence yet again, and a lovely cross found Murphy and Taylor only a few yards out. The first shot hit the keeper's legs, and then the rebound fell straight into his arms as he lay on the ground. On another attack Wellens took the ball forward, and then released Hills inside the area. This time his shot was not hit so well, but it took a deflection off a defenders boot and landed in the net.
The chances continued to come, and five minutes later Taylor was put through by yet another long ball up the left. This time he steadied himself and finally got it right, placing it low to the keeper's left and into the goal.
It was party time now, and Blackpool brought on Simpson and Walker for the last five minutes, replacing Taylor and Wellens. There were more chances but no more goals, and the final whistle went to start the Blackpool celebrations.
It was by no means a classic game; Cambridge were a poor team, and Blackpool only had problems when they made them for themselves. Nevertheless it still had to be won, and Hills was once again Blackpool's best player, named as Man of the Match by the TV adjudicator and well deserving this. Basically it was a team effort - Blackpool were all pretty good for most of the match, and during the spell when Cambridge were on top, they were all pretty poor. Overall they have earned this trophy, with a series of excellent performances in earlier rounds, topped off with another win at the Millennium stadium.
Team (4-4-2): Barnes, O'Kane, Clarke, Marshall (Capt, Hughes 39), Jaszczun, Bullock, Collins, Wellens (Simpson 84), Hills, Murphy, Taylor (Walker 84)
Subs not used: Pullen, Fenton