Monday, September 13, 2010

Blackpool illuminate as Newcastle infuriate

Newcastle Utd 0 - 2 Blackpool

Two home games, two WTF? results. We had the good against Villa, and this was the bad. Given that we'd won our last fixture at St James' 6-0 and the visitors had lost their last game on the road by the same scoreline, this defeat was simultaneously mystifying and, to the seasoned follower of Newcastle, depressingly predictable.

Chris Hughton named the same side for the fourth consecutive match, and so must have been disappointed at our first-half sluggishness. Blackpool, by contrast, were clearly keen to avenge the 4-1 pasting that was the only blot on their near-perfect run-in last season, and enjoyed the best of the first period of a reunion Paul couldn't see happening back in April.

Mike Williamson almost continued his impressive early-season form, striking the post with a header, and Kevin Nolan also came close, but at the other end DJ Campbell - recruited permanently from Leicester following his heroics in propelling the Seasiders to promotion - was foiled first by Steve Harper and then by the offside flag.

Just as it looked as though we'd go in all square at the break, Alan Smith chose to commit one of his rash tackles inside the area, and Charlie Adam succeeded where John Carew had failed in scoring from the spot at the Gallowgate.

That was the catalyst for a much improved display in the second half - but try as we might, we just couldn't make the breakthrough that would in all likelihood have given us the impetus to go on and win. ASBO and man of the moment Bigger Lad were just two players unlucky to find the Seasiders' stopper Matt Gilks in inspired form, while Wayne Routledge had an effort hacked off the line as our opponents' back line held firm.

Hughton threw caution to the wind, sacrificing Smith and both wingers Routledge and Spidermag to throw on three forwards to accompany Bigger Lad - Big Lad, Peter Lovenkrands and new boy Hatem Ben Arfa - but to no avail. And while Sol Campbell remained benched alongside fellow newbie Cheik Tiote (a starter ahead of Smith next time out at Goodison?), his namesake exploited our desperation at one end to seal our fate with a crisp left-footed sickener at the other.

So, should we be jabbing at the panic button? No. Blackpool at home is probably the fixture most sides will have earmarked as their easiest ride of the season - but the opening day thrashing of Wigan indicated that that might be rather premature. And in any case, as Chris Hughton acknowledged afterwards, on another day it was a game we would have won comfortably: "I can't fault the commitment of my players, we just didn't have enough fortune or quality and came up against a very good keeper".

As much as the loss might have left us shaking our heads and smarting at the time, two days on it's possible to avoid dwelling on the negatives and instead reflect on it rather more positively - as a timely dose of reality and a healthy reminder that complacency and a failure to take opportunities are almost always costly at this level. Harps is quite right in saying that it's important how we react. An Everton side who don't need strikers to put three past Man Utd wouldn't be my first choice of opposition, though...

A Blackpool fan's perspective: Blackpool FC Blog

Other reports: BBC, Guardian (in which TBW climbs into bed with Ian Holloway)


Anonymous Anonymous said...

We were bound to have a wake-up call sooner or later to remind us that every game at this level is going to be a battle. It's just to bad it had to come against a fellow promotion team, at home

1:09 pm  

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