Blackpool 1-0 Swindon: Tangerine dreams

Blackpool had gone two years without winning back-to-back matches. They haven’t now, Anthony Gingell reports from Bloomfield Road

It’s a chilly, cloudy Saturday afternoon on the Lancashire coast for Swindon’s away day in the party town of Blackpool. Town’s line-up includes a start for the penny-paying, bad-boy Lawrence Vigouroux after his apology at Doncaster. Bradley Barry starts for Jordan Williams (who I hear has an injury) and Jon Obika, after his late equalising goal at Donny, gets the nod in the first XI in place of Drissa Traore, who drops to the bench. New signing Momar Bangoura also earns a place on the bench with Jordan Stewart returning to Ireland after declaring himself homesick.

The sun now shines on the Town fans behind the goal as Blackpool kick-off the first October game. Town’s number 1, Vigouroux, gets an early touch but nothing deemed serious even when Swindon have been renowned for leaking early goals. Louis Thompson runs to the 18-yard box but his shot is blocked. A couple of crosses happen from Town but the excitement is short lived.

Fabien Robert picks up a loose ball, runs at the Blackpool defence at pace and gets brought down. The referee plays advantage as Robert picks himself up and gets the shot away. The travelling faithful are wondering if this might just be a decent day whilst singing ‘Fabien Robert’ to Bon Jovi’s ‘Livin’ on a Prayer’.

The first real effort goes to the home side at 12 minutes when Blackpool’s Jack Redshaw shot wide after Yaser Kasim was easily dispossessed. Just six minutes later there was a little controversy (well, it needed to be shouted for with the way we’ve been playing). Swindon counter once Thompson nutmegs the home defender; Ajose stops his run to beat the offside trap, Louis plays the ball through. Ajose bursts clear of the defence but slows as Colin Doyle (the home ‘keeper) rushes out and belts the ball against one of his own defenders. It flies into the air like a rocket and Doyle catches the dropping ball. ‘Outside!’ shout the away fans but nothing given by the referee or assistant as they feel it was clearly inside the penalty area.

A couple of minutes later there’s more controversy and this is not just a shout. The far assistant (to the Swindon fans) gives a foul to Town after Redshaw fouls Rossi Branco. Something has happened and Branco demonstrates to the referee that it was an elbow used to floor the Swindon centre back. Nothing given again. Robert has been hacked at time and again so is subbed for Jermaine Hylton.

I know numerous people give Rossi Branco a hard time but he should be praised for a clearing header from a Blackpool left-wing cross which stops a certain tap in behind. It was brave defending. A handball by the Tangerines ends all of the home advantage. This is shortly followed by Town fans pretending to be Blackpool fans. The noisy away contingent has decided to be quiet and sit down. They then stoke the banter fire with songs about being poor that cannot be written on this blog. This is the main entertainment has the ball goes from left to right; right to left; backwards, sideward and then when we get to the final third it’s hoofed back to the Swindon defence.

Louis Thompson gets chucked to the floor just after half an hour in front of the Swindon fans, and the linesman, but play continues while he holds his face. Swindon put the ball out for the throw which Blackpool take and boot for a Swindon goal kick. This is not sportsman like and destroys any momentum Swindon had at this point. The team in black has played some of the better football of recent times but certainly lacking the killer final passes.

That’s it; 1-0 Blackpool. Brad Barry has defender excellently and blocks the cross giving a corner to the home side. The 37th minute corner is whipped in and Mark Cullen heads past Vigouroux from Henry Cameron’s corner. Kasim clears the ball on the goal line although the reply shows it is clearly a goal so for once – good decision referee.

A free kick in the 40th minute is punched by Vigouroux and some very soft tackling allows Redshaw to get a shot away but Lawrence saves with his legs and rear end at the near post.

Another corner is presented to Blackpool in their best spell of the half. The ball falls 30 yards from goal and Hylton gets a yellow having collided into a Blackpool player. The free kick is blasted past the wall by goalscorer Cullen and looks destined for the back of the net but again Vigouroux makes a fantastic save (although some say easy as straight down the middle).

The second half starts with a Hylton 20 yard run but he shoots wide. It’s nothing special – just like the first half. Thompson tries to run into a shooting position or an area for a killer pass but is tackled with no options and Blackpool break. Kasim tracks back, for one of three or four times for the whole game; gets a touch on the ball 18 yards away from Town’s goal. Kasim then walks away thinking he’s done his bit but the Town defender would expect the Iraqi to turn and move. Instead the attacker gets the ball back and has a shot chipping Vigouroux. Lawrence saves and palms to safety where James Brophy picks up the loose ball. He gets past the on-rushing attacker but slowly moves out of defence. The Blackpool player gets up; tracks back and makes a second tackle before getting a shot away. We are starting to look really poor; devoid of ideas and lacking confidence.

Town’s next chance comes some 10 minutes later when Jon Obika latches onto a through ball but he first shot is blocked by Doyle who gathers at the second attempt. Blackpool should be 2-0 up just before the hour mark when Cullen has a goal bound effort deflected onto the inside of the post by Vigouroux. The ball thankfully stays out but rolls towards the corner flag. Noticing the ball will not go out, Barry chases down the loose ball and clears under pressure. The resulting cross comes into the stand with the Town fans.

Henrik Ojamaa has been very poor with little (or no) pace and no attacking threat, which is what we are expecting. He cuts in from the Town left on the hour mark and curls the ball over the bar dropping onto the top of the net.

Town have started to play 30 to 40 yards from Blackpool’s goal but Osayi-Samuel gets free on Swindon’s right and has a one on one with Vigouroux. The shot is played to the far post but somehow goes wide. Blackpool have another wide shot before the non-existent Ojamaa is subbed for Jeremy Balmy.

Redshaw finally gets a yellow card in the 70th minute of the game. It was a deserved card for a very late tackle wiping the Swindon player off his feet (with no romance blossoming for sure).

James Brophy runs into the Blackpool penalty box and is seemingly taken out. Penalty shouts are made but the referee gives a free kick to Blackpool. I would be unhappy with him if he has dived as he seemed to be away from the defender so would like to see a closer view.

Kasim plays a lovely through ball with 15 minutes to go but Ajose is unable to make it to the ball before the ball enters the box and the ‘keeper collects. It curled a little too much to the centre of the pitch instead of being played further out to the wing. Blackpool have resulted to long balling after Cullen was replaced with lots of long range shots where the Town fans were more at risk than the goal.

Town make themselves a half chance with five minutes left of the ninety. Barry lashes at the ball 25 yards from gaol. The ball bounces around in the penalty box before Balmy shoots with the shot trickling out for a goal kick. At least it was a shot in anger!

Finally in the 89th minute Cooper ‘encourages’ with movement of his arms for the team to press on as Town try to break. Jordan Turnbull and Rossi Branco are now also lumped up front for physical presence. Turnbull has a shot on target. Yes that’s right; a shot on target but it was soft and easily saved. Balmy picks up a yellow for a professional foul hauling down the Blackpool player. The final whistle blows to a chorus of boos from the away fans and jubilant cheers to the Lancashire lot who are so surprised to have won another game!

Maybe a bit of extra skill and footballing brains could come good – perhaps Blackpool (and all-round) bad-by Nile Ranger would be a good addition to the squad for hold up play? His previous link up play with Ajose was superb and could be idea for Cooper and Power but is a handful to manage. In essence though; the Town back five (including the goalkeeper) were not too bad. They were by no means good but the protection for them was terrible. The service to the striker was awful so whether Ajose or Obika were up front they were living off scraps, if not the bones! Let’s hope that the boys are up for the ‘A420 Classico’ on Tuesday night even if it is only the JPT.

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