The cleaning crews had only just finished their night shift before the next instalment of the tangerine army got underway. A bright sunny morning greeted many of the fans as they awoke with hangovers from the previous days action. Blackpool are a guaranteed razzle dazzle hockey team and their supporters know it. Good looks abound throughout the team and three of the squad are currently in the top ten names entered into Google. This season has been one roller coaster ride after another and the adrenalin junkie supporters have been treated to Class A action every Saturday. The supporters were questioning if this 1000 mile an hour show could continue and even the players were questioning it in post match press conferences.
Sunday showed what happens when you jump on a wave but don’t know how to get off. In a breath taking first half performance, Blackpool rewrote how hockey should be played. The book was torn up and burnt only to be re written in orange. Fast, aggressive, passing hockey left the travelling Lancaster team in open mouthed awe. There was no counter attacking hockey just go for the kill, clinical execution in everything they did. 3-0 up at half time after goals from Liam Morrow, Rob Abbott and a now customary Steve Whitley strike left the captain with nothing to say but ‘more,more, more’.
[edit – Lancaster actually scored just before half-time, after most of the Blackpool team had stopped waiting for the whistle to blow for an infringement on the left wing, only to see play continue and the ball passed into the net to make it 3-1.]
This is where the wave hits a rock and eleven people are killed in the ensuing carnage. The second half was quite simply appalling. The midfield did not think passing to a Blackpool player was a good idea and passing to a Lancaster player obviously far more fun. There was no width, the two centre midfields took on Laurel and Hardy roles without the comedy sound track and the defence constantly came under attack. The attack were left with nothing to do but watch and question why balls were being brilliantly won by the defence only to be given away again on the half way line. To be fair to Lancaster they did raise their game, but Blackpool lowered theirs to a low point for the season.
Lancaster got two goals back with fifteen minutes to play and Blackpool were on the ropes, no doubt about it. Constant pressure from Lancaster and constant errors from Blackpool meant the game was heading for a draw or a possible Lancaster win. The turning point was the departure of Pasqualino and an injury to the goalie Blakemore. Morrow was moved in to centre midfield and Boniface was scraped off the bench to left half. The injury time allowed stirring words from the captain and Blackpool played the last ten minutes very confidently and Lancaster never again looked like scoring. Big questions were asked of the whole Blackpool side and most of them were answered. What happened in the second half will be debated in bars up and down the country, but a simple answer is Blackpool don’t have enough oil in the engine room to play two hard games back to back. If the midfield are not firing Blackpool will not light up Stanley Park every second Saturday. At the end of the day Blackpool took all three points and Lancaster were left wondering how they did not draw or win the game. Last year they would have, but not this season, there is more composure and as the Blackpool right back likes to point out – a lot more passion.
Squad – Blakemore, Woodman, Gettings, Latimer, Morrow L, Abbott, Pasqualino, Whitley, Morrow K, Ashfield, Morgan, Boniface, Wright. MoM – Blakemore (probably, as the students all left early so couldn’t be asked).
© Kieron Morrow 14/11/05
[edit – Next week sees the heavyweight contest between the division’s two finest match reporters. Blackpool’s Kieron Morrow travels into the jungle of Runcorn for a rumble with Chris Hampson. The literary sparing will be a lesson for any budding journalist, and we can only hope for a penalty flick to be awarded for the two of them to face up to each on the pitch as well as in print.]