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Lancashire Red: Storm Front

8 February 2014

Another busy week it’s been, and my scarf had only just finished drying out from Wednesday before it was time to put it on again and drive the short journey to Bloomfield Road to be lashed once more by the howling wind and rain. I think it must be the first time ever I’ve had the luxury of back-to-back local games to go to which goes part way towards compensating for all the miles I have to travel just for home games. All the same, every credit to those who do manage to get to all games, home and away. I wish I was one of those, although time and finances dictate otherwise.

Having disposed of Preston so cruelly in the cup, I felt the least we could do would be to beat their fiercest rivals today. Our record at Bloomfield Road is quite good – there’s only one season in recent times we’ve lost there and we do manage the odd win as well. Add to that Blackpool’s run of form is every bit as poor as ours is good: they’d not won in 14 games whilst we were looking to stretch our unbeaten run to 15.

Today we played in a sharp new white and blue third kit intended for use in at least five away games coming up, making me wonder why we ever bothered with the grey kit, smart though that is too.

FLC, Saturday 8th February 2014, Kick-off 1500hrs
Blackpool 1 - 1 Nottingham Forest

Bloomfield Road
You could say it was a daylight version of Wednesday’s conditions at Deepdale. Nasty stuff.
Away fan experience
Being on Row C today I had a virtual ringside seat (padded, no less) and close to the halfway line and the press area – and pillars. This meant I was in danger of getting wet as the rain intensified though the roof of the temporary stand just about did its job. A few people in front of me were provided with polythene capes by friendly stewards nearby. Everyone behind me was standing, despite large notices warning people not to. A tedious walk to/from the car parking area on the other side and not much fun battling against the flow of home fans. Still the most extortionate car parking charges, with the local authorities totally oblivious to the fact most people park in excess of three hours to attend a game. Not fair and not good business sense. Away fan friendly pubs within walking distance, my favoured haunt being The Auctioneer on Lytham Road with good friendly atmosphere and cheap food.
Visiting fans’ area vastly inferior to the rest of the ground, though I can’t see that changing in the near future. Draughty portaloos close to kiosks providing brisk service including reasonable steak pies (though I gather they ran out early). In common with previous visits to Bloomfield Road though, still the easiest place to get wet.
The Pool – easily the best programme bought this season. Very well presented with lots and lots on Forest past and present and plenty of stuff on people linked with both clubs. Points deducted however for grammatical errors spotted, and some factual errors included a brief summary of a match we won here two seasons ago, only for the header to read Blackpool 2, Forest 1.
The Match
Despite the line-up reverting to one more appropriate to a side seeking promotion (including starts for Djebbour and Fox and a welcome return for Jack Hobbs) the style of play was a little too similar to Wednesday, especially in the second half. Obviously the conditions didn’t help, though there were too many long high balls lofted in the direction of an isolated Cox with predictable results. That said we had the better of the first half without giving Matt Gilks too much to do. In fact our only shot on target was the one from which we scored on the stroke of HT when Reid’s superbly taken free kick found Lascelles in perfect position to poke the ball past Gilks in a crowded box for his first league goal for the club. A slender lead but just about deserved. It was when changes were made midway through the second half that swung the momentum Blackpool’s way. Djebbour had looked threatening and powerful going forward and Henderson was unable to continue this when he came on. Mackie meanwhile had had little change out of McMahon throughout the first half so maybe bringing on Pato might loosen things a little. Indeed they might, however Blackpool’s Barry Ferguson gambled by responding with a triple substitution shortly afterwards and suddenly they were a different side. Not helped by too many stray balls we began to defend deeply and eventually we paid for it. A counter attack by Forest was cut out rather suddenly when Robinson intercepted a pass from Reid which failed to find Pato. Suddenly we were under pressure as Robinson advanced then crossed, finding Keogh on the far post in one of those moments you knew there was only one place the ball was destined. And all just seconds after successfully cutting out an earlier attack. Frustrating, and with only four minutes to go. That’s three consecutive away league games we’ve conceded a late equaliser – you’d have thought the nerve-shredding backs-to-the-wall display at Deepdale would have taught us not to sit on a single goal lead, but no. We’ll certainly have to do better than that when we go to Dingletown in two weeks, especially since they won yet again today.
A new name added to our list of scorers and a great end to the first half with Lascelles’ opener.
The curse of the late goal once more. Some stray passing leading to it and earlier undoubtedly cost us. On one occasion a long back-pass in midfield went straight to one of them which could easily have resulted in another goal shipped. Reidy predictably copped a load of abuse from the home fans, which prompted reaction from the travelling support with vociferous chanting of his name in support.
Darlow did well to deny Blackpool for as long as he did, and Djebbour shows promise going forward.
The Blackpool fan who tweeted Radio Lancashire with comments to ‘Forest’s blatant cheating and time-wasting tactics’ – with a disciplinary record as colourful as Blackpool’s of late that was about as pot-calling-kettle-black as it gets. Oh, and let’s not forget those dubiously won penalties during their promotion season four years ago. Where’s your Charlie now?
Carl Boyeson – Erred on the side of leniency resulting on no cards issued. No major match-turning decisions, but displayed homer tendencies with just about every decision going Blackpool’s way.
Entertainment Value5/10: Harsh weather conditions rarely make for entertaining games, and the first half especially was scrappy with too many high balls. Some good one-touch football by Forest at times, though with little penetrative action in the final third, this won’t be the most memorable match seen this season. It’s a pity you can’t have subtitles on radio as I struggled to understand anything Ferguson was saying in his post-match interview due to his Scottish accent being ten times broader than King Billy’s.
Promotion Rating
Nothing new on this one: we’ve once again paid the price for not putting the game to bed (and yes, we missed Lansbury’s influence in midfield, but we’re going to have to get used to that now). A win today would have put pressure on D3rby and QPR who face each other on Monday and would have closed the gap between us and 2nd place to three points, and our points tally after 29 games just two short of where we were after the same number of games in 2010. Still anyone’s guess for second place and we still have a valid claim, though we need to stop shipping these late equalisers.

I will predict a win at Huddersfield on Tuesday, due mainly to the fact I won’t be going. Our last win there was in 1998, when we achieved what we’ve been trying to do ever since. If we do win then I’ll really stick my neck out and say this will be our year! No pressure then…

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