In many ways the victory at St James’ Park is the most satisfying result of the season so far. In the same fixture last season Blackpool were soundly beaten 4-1, overawed by the sheer size of the stadium. Barely five months on from that game, a more savvy team of Seasiders put in a sterling performance which thoroughly merited all three points. It was a disciplined effort, and whilst Holloway’s men retained their attacking philosophy, it wasn’t at the expense of their defensive duties.
The opening 45 minutes belonged largely to Blackpool. DJ Campbell should have opened his account early doors when put clean through by Charlie Adam, but Campbell took a poor touch allowing Newcastle goalkeeper Steve Harper to close him down, and Harper did well to block the follow-up shot from Ormerod. The Magpies did have their chances too, but they came against the run of play as Blackpool took the game to the home side. They were rewarded just before the break with Varney being brought down by a reckless challenge from Alan Smith. Adam went for his usual spot in the bottom left corner, sending Harper the wrong way.
1-0 down at the break, Newcastle were always going to come at Blackpool in the second half. However, what followed was a classic example of rearguard action. Gilks has since taken the majority of the plaudits, and rightly so, but his defence in front of him also held firm and put their bodies on the line time after time.
Blackpool blocked no fewer than eight shots during the match, with six of those taking place in the second period. Dekel Keinan made a solid contribution on his first start in a tangerine shirt, making three crucial blocks, including a clearance off the line.
Newcastle will perhaps count themselves unlucky that despite 22 shots, they couldn’t hit the back of the net. What they found was a goalkeeper in the form of his life and a team that is made of sterner stuff than is often perceived. It’s true that the 4-3-3 formation does somewhat throw caution to the wind, but it is a team crammed full of hard-working players who will defend from the front and give their all for their teammates. It is not a brittle side that will roll over in the Premier League.
Well, the match away to Arsenal excepted…