Holloway leads a love-in at friendly Fylde derby
Fleetwood Town 1 Blackpool 5
Monday 09 January 2012
Fleetwood Town supporters, the self-proclaimed "Cod Army", were teased into submission by their Blackpool neighbours during this damp squib of a Fylde Coast derby. Fans of the Championship side joked that "You were all at Wembley" and "Half of you are tangerine" – making reference to the fact that football lovers on the Fylde Coast take a keen interest in both clubs.
Despite the two grounds being nine miles apart, many of the Blackpool contingent will have found Saturday's trip to Highbury far easier than their normal journey to Bloomfield Road, with many making it on foot.
The mutual regard is completely genuine with no hint of antagonism on a day when the obligatory half-and-half "friendship scarves" were the attire of choice – street sellers seriously under-estimated demand for their product, and ran out long before kick-off.
A Matt Phillips hat-trick plus goals from Lomana LuaLua and Tom Ince saw the Seasiders easily through to the fourth round, where they will host Sheffield Wednesday, though the impressive Jamie Vardy's strike with 20 minutes to go briefly raised the prospect of a tense finish. But the result in reality was never in doubt and the Fleetwood manager, Micky Mellon, was just delighted that his team matched their illustrious opposition for long spells.
"We had a couple of chances first half, and we had a chance at 3-1 when the keeper's made a good save. At times there certainly wasn't divisions between the teams," he said.
"Some of the football that we played was superb and we got punished probably every time that Blackpool went forward. But full credit to them – some of the finishing was absolutely top drawer, and [that is] something we aren't used to and won't see a lot of at our level."
The love-in went on at Blackpool manager Ian Holloway's post-match press conference when he made a beeline for the Fleetwood chairman Andy Pilley and, after a big hug, announced to the room full of journalists what a forward-thinking and progressive club the Blue Square Premier Town are.
Perhaps that was pouring oil on slightly troubled waters. Pilley's opposite number, Karl Oyston, had feebly attempted to play the villain of the piece in the build-up to the first Fylde Coast derby for 30 years when he said he would not be attending and that he did not rate it "a big fixture" at all. He added: "If we had drawn Manchester United, that would have been exciting, but a Conference club isn't wonderful."
Oyston's comments angered Fleetwood officials but they could not stop players, management and supporters from enjoying the occasion. Holloway was full of praise: "I'm going away with brilliant memories of Fleetwood Town and that's what I hope they will remember with us. Fantastic game, I'm glad it's over because that was as big a banana skin as I've had in my life and we managed to come out in a no-win situation and play well," he said.
"Well done to Micky [Mellon]. I think the way they passed it and the way they played through us and around us was a credit to them. If there are teams better than them in that division I would like to see it."
Holloway even finished off with a glowing testimonial: "There's no doubt in my mind the way they're playing they are going to be a League team. If you are a League team you better watch out, because they're on the march."
Fleetwood Town (4-4-2): Davies; Beesley, McNulty, Brown, Cavanagh; Pond, Milligan (Clancy, 82), Till, McGuire; Mangan, Vardy. Substitutes not used: Stephenson (gk), Vieira, Goodall, Briggs, Seddon, Charnock.
Blackpool (4-3-3): Howard; Eardley, Baptiste, Wilson, Harris; Basham, Sylvestre, Angel (K Phillips, 84); M Phillips, LuaLua (Taylor-Fletcher, 82), Ince. Substitutes not used: Halstead (gk), Evatt, Grandin, Hill, Cathcart.
Goals: Vardy 70, LuaLua 24, M Phillips 47, 77, 81, Ince 55
Referee: D Whitestone (Northamptonshire).
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