Holloway finds escape route in going back to basics
Blackpool 1 Newcastle United 1
Monday 25 April 2011
With 25 minutes on the clock and Newcastle leading, a voice piped up over the Tannoy asking the home crowd to make some noise.
Yet if Ian Holloway, the Blackpool manager, had questioned the reaction of some supporters during the previous week's dispiriting defeat by Wigan, there was no need for a cheerleader now – Holloway's men did the job of raising home spirits with a performance packed with an intensity and endeavour that augur well for a run-in that includes visits from Stoke and Bolton alongside daunting trips to Tottenham and Manchester United.
Holloway had gone back to basics with a line-up featuring 10 of the team that won promotion last term and, as midfielder Keith Southern reflected, the resulting performance was vintage Blackpool.
"That's the Blackpool of old, the Blackpool of last season and the start of this season," Southern said. "We were back at it today and I think this was a massive psychological boost. We didn't get the three points, which we think we deserved, but we go into the next game at home [against Stoke on Saturday] full of confidence now.
"I just felt there was something in the air today. It was a little bit like the play-off semi-final against [Nottingham] Forest last season. Even when we went a goal behind, there was that never-say-die attitude. We kept going, we kept plugging away. The crowd were magnificent.
"We got in their faces, got some tackles in and I don't think they liked it," he added. "We rattled one or two of their big hitters and with a bit more luck we would have nicked the three points."
The points were certainly there for the taking with Newcastle, by manager Alan Pardew's admission, looking jaded after their home draw with Manchester United four days earlier. With Wales midfielder David Vaughan – "our player of the year", according to Southern – shining on his return from injury, Blackpool could not have come closer to a first win since 22 February.
After falling behind to Peter Lovenkrands' fine 25-yard opening goal, DJ Campbell flicked home the equaliser and was involved in two of a trio of first-half penalty claims, the other a clear, if probably accidental, handball by Danny Simpson. Referee Martin Atkinson ignored all three, to Holloway's intense frustration. "How many times have I seen that this season against us? Unbelievable, I hope they don't cost us," the manager said.
Blackpool laid siege to Newcastle's goal in the middle third, Alex Baptiste denied by a goal-line clearance and Charlie Adam by a post, while Campbell and Gary Taylor-Fletcher spurned headed opportunities. A winner would not come, but at least the point lifted them back out of the relegation zone.
Scorers: Blackpool Campbell 32. Newcastle Lovenkrands 17.
Substitutes: Blackpool Varney (Phillips 83), Puncheon (Taylor-Fletcher, 89). Newcastle Ireland 6 (Lovenkrands, 62), Perch (Nolan, 87), Kuqi (Ameobi, 90).
Booked: Blackpool Evatt. Newcastle Tioté.
Man of the match Vaughan. Match rating 7/10.
Possession: Blackpool 43% Newcastle 57%.
Attempts on target: Blackpool 7 Newcastle 6.
Referee M Atkinson (W Yorkshire). Att 16,003.
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