It seems that things are still not finally sorted out, but nevertheless this was tremendous news, and in the event it was when Wes created a moment of the old magic that
Overall this is a wonderful start to the season, though it is important to keep it in perspective. This was no easy win,
It was a beautiful sunny August afternoon as 2,000
n addition to Hoolahan, the team featured new signings
Paul Rachubka, now a permanent signing, was in goal, with Barker, Jackson and Evatt alongside Crainey in defence. Fox and Southern were in central midfield, with Morrell and Parker up front - as the game began it became clear that Taylor-Fletcher was playing on the wing, mostly on the right, though occasionally he switched with Hoolahan on the left.
The game began, and if
The pressure continued, and Parker got a yard ahead of his marker as he chased a ball into the box on the left, but the defender came back with an excellent tackle from behind, perfectly timed, to concede a corner. Following the corner the ball came out to Taylor-Fletcher who had a snap-shot from the edge of the box, but it was straight at the keeper. A little later a good layoff from Hoolahan led to a shooting opportunity for Fox, but he pulled it badly wide.
After about fifteen minutes
Play was end to end now, with
As half time approached, a ball up the middle into the area saw Parker, the keeper and a defender all arrive at the same time, and the ball bounced loose back down the pitch to Fox. He tried to hit the open goal, but a lob would have given the keeper time to get back, so he had to hit it hard. Unfortunately it was bouncing too high for him to get over the ball properly, and the shot went above the bar.
After the break,
There was still half an hour to play, and Leicester struck back almost immediately, with a ball into the box and a close range shot which required a brilliant reflex save from Rachubka. Blackpool continued to push forward when they could, but increasingly they fell into a defensive mode, and one by one their attacking threats were withdrawn. Firstly Jorgensen came on for Taylor-Fletcher, though in fact the Icelandic international was involved in plenty of attacking moves. However when John Hills came on for Hoolahan, and then Gorkss replaced Morrell, Parker was the only attacking player left in tangerine.
This made it very difficult for Blackpool to hold the ball in the Leicester half, and the pressure on the away defence became constant. They did very well in the circumstances, but they were up against some useful forwards and inevitably the chances came along. Happily Paul Rachubka was in fine form - his early nervousness had gone and he had been coming out well when necessary, and catching the important crosses.
Now he made several great saves, including one double save to deny two forwards at close range. He also made another reflex save to turn a shot away for a corner, and Leicester again saw a shot hit the woodwork, the rebound being scrambled away. However the vast majority of the Leicester attacks were cleared well by the Blackpool defence, and as the game moved into five minutes of added time, Leicester started to get frantic, and their attacks lost their punch. It was still a nervous time until the referee finally blew the whistle, and Blackpool had earned their first Championship win.
There will be harder times ahead, of course, and the luck will run the other way at times. However credit must go to Simon Grayson who has preserved the team spirit and belief which has now led them to eleven consecutive wins (we don't count frendlies, do we?). It will be important to avoid any slip up in the apparently easier fixture against Bristol City next Saturday.
Team (4-4-2): Rachubka, Barker, Jackson (capt), Evatt, Crainey, Taylor-Fletcher (Jorgensen 70), Southern, Fox, Hoolahan (Hills 80), Morrell (Gorkss 85), Parker
Subs not used: Vernon, Burgess