Varney's Van Basten moment rocks Wolves

Blackpool 2 Wolverhampton Wanderers 1: Prince William treated to regal goal from striker as Blackpool eye Euro berth

As the Blackpool dream continues – and in the presence of newly engaged royalty with Prince William dropping by yesterday – the nightmare goes on for Mick McCarthy, whose attempts to use fear as a carrot for his failing team produced exactly what he didn't want.

Wolverhampton have lost nine of their last 11 Premier League matches, including the last four. By all accounts, they have often played well without luck, but that is scant consolation. After 14 games McCarthy's team are five points below the safety line. Blackpool, on the other hand, are four points short of the Champions' League places.

HRH was in town not, as the on-line wags suggested, as part of a fact-finding mission for his stag do. The president of the Football Association was apparently joining friends after the match at the Pleasure Beach theme park which was being kept open for his party's pleasure.

Blackpool clearly wanted to put on a show of their own and Luke Varney duly provided a party-piece goal after only three minutes. It was a blow from which Wolves would never recover, for all that they were the better attacking force.

McCarthy's mistake, perhaps, was to point out ahead of the game that his team had to start winning if they were not to spend the rest of the season in a relegation battle. Given the League table, that was not an unreasonable statement – but it appeared only to fill his players with fear, at least for the first half.

The conviction with which they beat Manchester City and tested Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal gave way to hesitancy, trepidation even, as if McCarthy's assessment was too stark for them.

By the time the manager had the chance to refocus a few minds in the dressing room at half-time they were already two goals down and, more worryingly, had not looked like replying even against the most porous defence in the Premier League.

In mitigation, it should be pointed out that the opening goal was something special, at least from Blackpool's point of view. Varney, on the left flank, cushioned Ian Evatt's long ball on his chest, let it bounce once, then delivered a perfect dipping volley over the stretching Marcus Hahnemann.

"I haven't seen a better goal in a long time," Ian Holloway, the Blackpool manager, said. "I saw Marco van Basten hit one like it once and when it dropped to Varney I thought 'Oh no, Reg... Oh, well done, Reg'."

Then, slipping naturally into humble-subject mode, Holloway added: "I never thought I'd be watched by royalty. I had the privilege of shaking William's hand and I told him what I thought about his mum and how she would be proud of him. It was quite a surreal day."

Blackpool had not beaten Wolves in a home league fixture since 1962 and this was their quickest goal of the season. Given the importance to their cause, too, of beating weaker opponents, it was an ideal opening.

Wolves looked nervous. McCarthy swapped his holding midfielder, Michael Mancienne, with his right- back, Kevin Foley, then took Foley off altogether. But Blackpool scored on half-time, the impressive Varney knocking down a David Vaughan corner before Marlon Harewood stabbed the ball over the line, despite Matt Jarvis's attempts to keep it out.

Wolves made more of their possession in the second half, although their finishing was below-par until a Nenad Milijas shot hit the post and a Kevin Doyle header four minutes from time gave them hope. But the home side, with the promoted goalkeeper Richard Kingson outstanding, defended resolutely.

Holloway continued the humble theme. "I thought Wolves were a bit hard done by," he said. McCarthy's summing-up was more brutal: "We weren't good enough in either box."

Attendance: 15,922

Referee: Mark Clattenburg

Man of the match: Varney

Match rating: 7/10

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living