It was a typical day at the seaside with a carnival atmosphere as Blackpool set out to gain all three points against Owen Coyle’s men to increase their chances of Premier League survival. Straight from the kick off the Tangerines looked the hungrier side as they applied immediate pressure on the visitors and took control of the game with very quick and fluid passing.
Despite Blackpool’s dominance in the first five minutes the defensive frailties which have cost them so many points this season still shone through. The Seasiders were unable to deal with a Paul Robinson free-kick and also failed to close down Kevin Davies who calmly put the ball in the net.
Immediately afterwards Blackpool were also able to capitalise on their opponents’ weak defence. Gretar Steinsson was caught sleeping as DJ Campbell slipped in behind him to latch onto Gary Taylor-Fletcher’s through ball and slot passed Jussi Jaaskelainen to equalise.
Bolton centre-backs Zat Knight and Gary Cahill were able to clear any direct long-balls from the danger area with ease but when the home side played their silky passing game the entire Bolton backline blundered, which Blackpool were able to exploit almost effortlessly. Campbell, Taylor-Fletcher and Jason Puncheon were able to play passing football in the Trotters’ box and the latter was allowed enough time on the ball to size up a shot and smash it from the edge of the area passed the Bolton goalkeeper.
Bolton were allowed two attempts to get the ball to Matthew Taylor on the left side of the box and with Ricardo Gardner’s pint point pass and with all the time in the world, Taylor was allowed to pick his spot and hammer it in for the fourth goal of the game.
The entire first-half was end to end and with such strong attacking play from both sides competing against such weak defending, anything was possible in this game. Kevin Davies caught Matthew Gilks off guard with a casual shot from outside the box which struck the bar and it is exactly that type of lacklustre defending in this game and throughout the season which has landed Blackpool in a relegation battle. Going forward Ian Holloway’s men are fantastic and strong but it is their backline which renders their beautiful, attacking football obsolete and if they do manage to stay in the league then they must tighten up at the back – giving a striker such as Davies so much time on the ball is criminal and punishment for it is inevitable.
The Wanderers’ defence was also nothing short of shambolic at times on Saturday which was shown as DJ Campbell managed to run in behind Knight unnoticed and meet Charlie Adam’s delightful cross and direct it over the line to regain the lead at the break.
Stephen Crainey failed to pick up Chung-Yong Lee as the South Korean was able to run onto Davies’ through ball in the Blackpool box, Lee was able to beat Gilks who threw himself to the ground and chip it up for Daniel Sturridge who headed into the net.
Captain Charlie Adam lead the attack as he, Taylor-Fletcher, Campbell and Puncheon bolted towards the Bolton defence. Adam was given enough time to pass to Taylor-Fletcher in the box who returned it to the ‘Pool skipper in acres of space and the former Rangers player smashed it home.
For the final twenty minutes the game was very much a midfield battle as Bolton tried to break through their opponents in search of an equaliser but Blackpool showed great determination and solidarity to hold on to the lead and give themselves a chance of survival as the season enters its final week.
It was an incredible game and Holloway will be delighted with the three points but his side really need to keep their concentration for the full ninety minutes as they travel to Old Trafford to face the newly crowned champions in a game which will determine which league they are in next season.