Adam turns tide for Pool sandboys
Stoke City 0 Blackpool 1: Midfielder puts Seasiders more than halfway to safety as Holloway enjoys trip to Stoke for a change
Sunday 12 December 2010
Billed as the "Matthews derby", the meeting of the two clubs graced by Sir Stanley over the space of four decades was decided in Blackpool's favour by a close-range thrust from DJ Campbell that was more reminiscent of one of Stan Mortensen's predatory finishes from the same Tangerine vintage.
Campbell pounced early in the second half to earn a deserved victory for Blackpool manager Ian Holloway over a Stoke side managed by Tony Pulis – for whom he used to babysit when they were players at Bristol Rovers – and on the ground where he endured relegation to the third tier with Leicester in 2008.
The visitors' playmaker Charlie Adam gave them the finesse which Stoke lacked, although ironically the Potters specialised in flair 50 years ago when Tony Waddington brought Matthews home. Blackpool are now more than halfway towards the putative safety mark of 40 points, and only Arsenal and Manchester City have won more away games in the Premier League.
Holloway, who suggested David Vaughan had been even better than Adam, remarked: "Someone had us down for 10 points from 38 games. We were going to be a bit of a laughing stock. I'm so proud of our lads, but I don't think 22 points keeps you up, so we've got to keep going."
Their success was fashioned on the beach at Blackpool, where Holloway took his players to train on Thursday because the Bloomfield Road pitch was frozen. "Sir Stan used to run there every morning," he said. "There were a few groans, but I said, 'If it was good enough for Stan Matthews, it's good enough for you'. You won't get a better player anywhere on this planet."
Pulis, meanwhile, insisted Stoke were unlucky. "I've never known us have so many opportunities without scoring," he said. "But give credit to Blackpool. They remind me of Hull when they first came up, the way they play without fear. They're playing roulette football, throwing the dice and hoping it will fall for them."
Matthews' daughter Jean was a guest of honour, while Stoke also ran a black-and-white film of the great man on to a giant screen, though the Blackpool contingent seemed to appreciate it more, cheering boisterously as he lifted the FA Cup in 1953. This was more modern, athletic fare, yet there were elements he would have recognised and relished. The old-fashioned touchline trickery of Stoke's Jermaine Pennant and Matthew Etherington for one; the sharp, progressive Blackpool passing orchestrated by Adam for another. He would have particularly enjoyed Ricardo Fuller's contribution for Stoke. No sooner had he curled a 36th-minute shot against Richard Kingson's crossbar than he waltzed past Ian Evatt and Stephen Crainey on Matthews' old right-wing patch before being halted.
Stoke, as ever, piled in to attack every long throw, free-kick or corner. Blackpool, equally characteristically, worked the ball into advanced positions with slick moves. One culminated in Vaughan volleying narrowly too high following Crainey's cross. Another led to the ball being driven in low by Neil Eardley and rolling almost along the Stoke goalline with Luke Varney unable to touch it over before Andy Wilkinson cleared.
Adam played a major part when Blackpool caught Stoke cold three minutes after half-time. First he swept an incisive pass from the inside-right channel to Varney on the left flank, then darted into space on the edge of the 18-yard box to receive the return ball. His chip into the six-yard box found Campbell beating Danny Collins to the ball with an outstretched boot to claim his third goal of the season, all away from home.
Gary Taylor-Fletcher headed against Stoke's bar midway through the second half before a late siege saw the same part of Blackpool's goal frame quivered by an Etherington free-kick and Varney clear Robert Huth's header off the line. The only downside for Holloway was a fifth caution this season for Adam after he appeared to win an aerial challenge with Dean Whitehead cleanly. The Scot will now sit out next weekend's visit of Tottenham.
Substitutes: Stoke: Tuncay for Pennant (70), Walters for Jones (70), Whelan for Wilkinson (83). Blackpool: Phillips for Grandin (80).
Bookings: Blackpool: Evatt, Adam.
Referee: Anthony Taylor
Man of the match: Adam
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