SAFC 0-2 Blackpool (H)

Thank God it took ages to get out the ground and the traffic wasn’t the best, I’ve had a chance to calm down and be as rational as possible.

I’d usually initially talk about the team selection and early incidents, but the game had one familiar theme. We create a boatload of chances, and take absolutely none. In the first half, Bent got through on several occasions only to spoon wide. Asamoah Gyan got round the keeper and was unlucky not to finish, and Henderson had a few strikes straight at the largely untroubled Richard Kingson in the Blackpool goal.

Also in the first half we worryingly saw Nedum Onouha limping off, to be replaced by Titus Bramble, himself just back from injury. Bramble looked a bit off-pace before eventually settling in to the game by the time the second half rolled around.

Going into the break at 0-0, having had the majority of the chances I thought to myself "Second half it will all come together, we’ll be ok"... how wrong could I be?

Shortly after the half began we simply fell asleep from a Blackpool corner, allowing them to take it quickly and short. A whipped cross flicked in by DJ Campbell, 1-0 Blackpool. Deservedly so? Debatable. We had plenty of effort, plenty of shots, but to be fair, they were mainly straight at the keeper.

SAFC pushed and pushed for the equalizer, Bent rattling the bar with a free-kick being the high point while efforts from Malbranque, Elmohamady and Henderson did nothing but sting the keepers palms.

Towards the end, DJ Campbell grabbed his second. From my vantage point it looked suspiciously off-side, but I haven’t seen a reply at time of going to press. Nipping in at the far post ahead of Bardsley, to tap in, and round off a good day for the Seasiders.

Ratings:

01 Gordon – 7/10 – Largely untroubled, nothing he could do for either goal.
02 Bardsley – 6/10 – Spent most the game being raped by Matt Phillips, didn’t do much better at RB.
06 Cattermole – 7/10 – Lots of hustle, even more bustle, but couldn’t affect the outcome.
10 Henderson – 8/10 – Took the game by the scruff of the neck when others shirked it.
11 Bent – 6/10 – Barring that free-kick spent most the game playing in wellies judging by his shooting.
15 Onouha – 6/10 – Came off early, hope he’s not out too long.
17 Welbeck – 8/10 – Was more of a threat from midfield, shame he’s all right foot, but played well.
18 Meyler – 6/10 – I’m yet to be convinced by the lad. Sideways, slow, added nothing.
27 Elmohamady – 7/10 – Much, much better in midfield, but cannot play right-back.
29 Ferdinand – 7/10 – Largely alright, no errors as such.
33 Gyan – 6/10 – The lads close control is awful, also came off injured. Doesn’t seem to be clicking.

Subs:

19 Bramble – 7/10 – Shaky at first, but grew into the game. Hugely important he’s back.
08 Malbranque – 6/10 – Typical Steed, wasted a golden opportunity late on to equalise.
03 Richardson – 6/10 – Came on at left-back and didn’t add a great deal. Skinned by Phillips.

So, I think we better put our passports back in the draw, and not allow us to get side-tracked by Europe talk again. We wasted a hell of a lot of chances, nothing really troubled Kingson, but on the plus side it would have been doubly gutting had we lost and not created anything.

There’s reason to believe we can bounce back against Blackburn on New Years day, so don’t lose faith yet.

Ending 2010 7th in the league is perfectly respectable, and a sign of progress, overall.

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