Varney enjoys rapid rise on Blackpool's rollercoaster

Blackpool 2 Fulham 2
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The Independent Football

The rousing re-introduction of top-flight football to Bloomfield Road featured a meaty collision between Luke Varney and David Stockdale. The shame was they had no chance to compare notes on their unconventional routes into the Premier League.

For Varney and Stockdale, like Morecambe and Wise and other notable double acts who have played Blackpool, came up the hard way. Both paid their dues in non-League football and each was relegated from the Championship while on loan last season. Until this month, they had a solitary top-flight appearance between them at the ages of 27 and 24.

The pacy Varney announced his arrival among the elite by forcing an own goal from John Pantsil to negate Bobby Zamora's header. Soon he shot beyond Stockdale to give Blackpool the scent of victory only for Dickson Etuhu to earn Fulham's third draw after a Moussa Dembele pass that Johnny Haynes would have been proud to claim.

Yet the on-loan newcomer's sense of well-being was palpable. "I had a walk round the town on Friday night and was scared," Varney said, grinning. He explained how, after Derby offloaded him, he hoped to ride the resort's famous rollercoaster. It would certainly be good practice for what awaits Blackpool.

"I had a call at 11.20 on Wednesday night saying Blackpool wanted me. I've always wanted to come to a great footballing town like this. I also wanted to be a part of the spirit in the dressing-room. I've heard a lot about it."

And about manager Ian Holloway, too. "I'd seen him on telly and he's a great character, but to watch him in our Friday meeting was eventful," Varney added. "It picked me up because it's been difficult not playing on Saturdays after training hard every day."

Stockdale knows the feeling, having understudied Mark Schwarzer since Fulham bought him from Darlington in 2008. Where Varney's CV lists Quorn FC, his features Worksop. However, his handful of appearances had lured Fabio Capello to the Fylde coast, fuelling speculation he was in line for the England squad. A twisted ankle, sustained when he tangled with Varney, means he may have to wait.

Match facts

Blackpool 4-3-3: Gilks; Baptiste, Evatt (Eardley, 64), Cathcart, Crainey; Grandin, Adam, Vaughan; Ormerod, Taylor-Fletcher, Varney. Substitutes not used Halstead (gk), Basham, Euell, Sylvestre, Demontagnac, Keinan.

Booked Vaughan.

Fulham 4-4-2: Stockdale; Pantsil, Hughes, Hangeland, Kelly; Davies, Murphy (Gera, 80), Etuhu, Duff (Greening, 85); Dembele, Zamora (Dempsey, 59). Substitutes not used Zuberbühler (gk), Baird, Riise, Briggs.

Man of the match Varney.

Referee M Oliver (North'land)

Attendance 15,529.