Towering Elphick leads Cherries to Blackpool Win
9th March 2014 - 15:00
A clear and easy drive saw us up in Blackpool with plenty of time for a wonder along the front. I must say the place looks a little sad and dated, but the emergence of the sun was welcome and seemed to brighten the place up a touch. Plenty of traveling support in the bars and pubs along the front enjoying pre match pints. The support was well lubricated by the time we got to Bloomfield Road.
Inside the ground we learnt that last weeks scorers Kermogant and Arter were both missing. Cherries lined up 4-4-2 with Okane replacing Arter and Pitman starting up front along with grabban.
Blackpool played the 4-3-3 / 4-5-1 that we've seen so often, and I thought it brave of Howe to go 4-4-2 away against a 5 man midfield. The early exchanges were mostly Blackpools, probing away at us and retaining the ball better. Our midfield was struggling with the man less.
After 10 minutes Howe changed it slightly, Pitman and Grabban seemed to take turns at dropping back and trying to make up the numbers in midfield. Also Ritchie and Fraser swapped flanks, and then swapped back, as Howe tinkered to try and get our midfield on top.
Blackpool despite having the better of the early exchanges created nothing of note, and as the half wore on we did adjust and grow into the game as surman and Arter saw more of the ball.
The half time whistle came with basically no goal mouth action to report. Not too bad we thought, we'll continue to improve second half and Blackpool looked lacking in creativity.
The only goal of the game came straight after the restart with a fair number of the traveling support still out in the refreshments. Grabban did what he does chasing down balls over the top. The Blackpool defence didn't read the situation very well, and the keeper came flying out. It was a mess all round really as the keeper didn't get the ball and clattered grabban. Question was - inside or outside the box? The ref pointed, but his gesture wasn't clear. I was right in line with a great view, and my gut instinct was penalty, but I can in no way be sure.
Penalty was the outcome, grabban picked the ball up giving Pitman no chance, and grabban calmly finished. The keeper sent the wrong way.
The goal came out of nothing really and was a gift from our hosts. The gauntlet was then laid down to Blackpool to break us down. Except we still continued to improve and should have doubled the lead. Nothing gilt edged created but several opportunities we should have done more with.
I wondered if Howe would look to bring Pitman off for MacDonald to help stiffen the midfield a bit, as Pitman wasn't getting into the game. Howe choose to leave Pitman on and stay two up front, the result being that Blackpool always had to leave 3 at the back as they pushed forward. A breakaway had Pitman central to a 3 on 3, Pitman flanked by Grabban and Ritchie as all 3 of them approached the edge of the box. Pitman differed and hesitated, eventually passed awkwardly to Grabban who couldn't then do anything other than shoot tamely at goal. A more confident Pitman doesn't pass there, he shoots and almost certainly scores.
As the game ticked past 70 odd minutes Blackpool rallied somewhat, with the home fans sparking into life with chants of 'Oyston Out', by a mile the loudest noise the home fans could muster all afternoon. The team improved to try and give their frustrated fans something to cheer.
The attacks still lacked imagination or creativity and were almost all balls lofted into the box. This is where Elphick and Camp earned their metal. Camp claimed everything with confidence, so good to have his presence and calm back there. And Elphick put his head anywhere and everywhere required and smashed every second ball up the pitch. Real sleeves up old fashioned defensive grit.
As the clock ran down and the stands emptied the cherries saw the win out in relative comfort. A win is a win, we're all heading down the M6 chuffed. But it has to be said, it was a poor game. We never got into anything like the tempo or quality of play we've shown for most of the season. We've played far better and lost this season. Blackpool looked a bog standard league one side devoid of much spark or confidence.
Regardless of the poor opposition, safety is all but confirmed and we can look back on a job well done thus far this season
Camp - 8 No outstanding saves but claimed everything
Francis - 8 Real typical solid stuff
Cook - 7 tidied up really well
Harte - 7 solid and did the job
Fraser - 7 Quiet at times but got up and down
Surman - 6 struggled at times with the midfield 2 v 3
Okane - 6 as above
Ritchie - 7 buzzed around and did his best to link midfield to attack
Pitman - 5, struggled visibly. When asked to drop back he was always in the wrong position and never found space, and when up top he failed to make any impression. Needs games.
Grabban - 8 led the line, scored the pen, what more can you say
No idea what's up with Kermogant but now we're just about safe perhaps now is the right time to give Brett the games he needs to decide if he can make an impression at this level. Felt for him today, being asked to do a different job just 10 or so minutes into the game can't be easy, but he never got going.
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