Date:Friday May 2 2008
So it all comes down to this, a trip to Bloomfield Road, Blackpool. At the beginning of the season, we all looked forward to a promotion party on Blackpool beach. How wrong we were; a "We`ve just scraped into the play offs party" is more appropriate now of course.
We`re not even going to a side that need nothing from this game, if results go against them, Simon Grayson`s men could be dragged back into League One on the final day, a cruel blow for a side in mid table. Indeed, moreoften the talk of relegation in the seaside resort has been for the near neighbours, Preston. However, with Southampton and Leicester lingering a lot closer, it could well be the Tangerines who stay up this season.
Simon Grayson has followed a blueprint set out by promoted managers before him, and thus far, it`s been successful for him too.
The first rule is to stick by the majority of last season`s squad. This step is one that has been easy for Grayson with much of his side being picked up on free transfers from Championship sides. In goal, Paul Rachubka has experience with Manchester United and Charlton whilst Rhys Evans came through the ranks at Chelsea - the latter has since left Bloomfield Road on-loan.
At the back, John Hills was a Gillingham regular until their relegation, Sheffield Wednesday picking him up before the Tangerines. Rule two - add a few shrew signings; Kaspars Gorkks certainly comes under that tag having signed for a nominal fee last Summer. The Latvian international has been a rock at centre back and has also been seen popping up to score a few crucial goals.
In midfield, Gary-Taylor Fletcher mightn`t be a well-known name, but the winger-cum-forward has been around for several years with Huddersfield Town where he helped now Lincoln boss, Glenn Jackson to a famous meeting with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge - Huddersfield lead at one point.
On the other flank, Wesley Hoolahan has been a thorn in many sides defences and it was his goal at Vicarage Road that levelled things up earlier in the season. A strong left footer, Hoolahan wrapped up the points in the derby with Preston earlier this year too. This season has seen the tricky Irishman notch five goals since arriving on-loan from Livingstone last year.
Up front, the arrival of Paul Dickov has been a god-send. The one time Manchester City and Blackburn forward arrived on-loan from Manchester City for whom he only made nine starts for the Citizens. Since arriving at a more Northerly club, the Scot has managed 6 goals in just seven starts. Just 5`5", the forward has an immense league cup goalscoring record with 12 in 18. A further 97 league strikes in 278 league starts isn`t a bad league record either.
Dickov`s partner should be a choice between McPhee, Burgess or Andy Morrell. The latter has coped well with a step up in class having left Coventry a couple of years back. In the return of the ex way, he scored on his return to Coventry but three more were shipped.
That seems to be the story of Blackpool`s season, score a few, concede a few more, but then this is a side that beat Charlton 5-3 at Bloomfield Road; we`ll need to be on our game.
Rachubka ,Barker ,Jackson ,Evatt ,Gorkss ,Green ,Jorgensen ,Southern ,Hoolahan ,Dickov and,McPhee
Lee; Doyley, DeMerit, Shittu, Stewart; Smith, Eustace (c), O`Toole, McAnuff; Henderson and Ellington.
Date:Friday May 2 2008
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