Well, we’ve waited eight years to reclaim the bragging rights from that lot down the M55 and it was exactly how we’d hoped and expected it would be. A fantastic atmosphere, a far superior show of quality from both the manager and the players, and three points taking us up the table.
With so much going on in the four stands, the players could’ve been distracted but it was impressive how calm and composed we were from front-to-back. The lack of Chris Maxwell in goal could’ve made us nervous but Daniel Grimshaw filled in admirably, we were solid on the ball at the back, we bossed midfield and we looked dangerous.
The second goal
Yorke and Cole back at it again. A lovely give-and-go between Gary Madine and Jerry Yates, and Gary Goals bagged his first league goal since Bristol Rovers away in January. It was a lovely flick from Yates to Madine, then a ball over the top from the big man and Yates skilfully controlled flicked over the defender and slid a beautiful ball through the defender’s legs and Gary poked home. Cue limbs in the North and three points wrapped up.
Scenes at the final whistle
The second goal allowed for celebrations to start early as we never really felt under significant pressure and managed the game well. The scenes were capped off by a scuffle involving nearly every player on the pitch, resulting in PNE’s captain getting sent off just before the final whistle. The whites had to skulk off the pitch with Tom Barkhuizen and Brad Potts amongst the downbeat group. Meanwhile, Pool’s side and Critchley did a lap of the stadium which culminated in the infamous Critchley fist pumps to the North stand. There’s nothing better.
There were too many to name. Grimshaw – while untested – looked composed and had solid distribution. Ekpiteta and Keogh are a perfect partnership. Gabriel looks even better than last season, while Husband got forward well and assisted the first goal. Kenny and Wintle give the whole team balance. They simply coudn’t deal with Josh Bowler. Keshi back to his best. Yates and Madine – we know what we’re getting there. On came Carey, Mitchell and Connolly and each made a difference. What a side – I love every one of them.
Critchley tactical genius
We look like a very prepared, well-coached side and that’s down to the gaffer. He’s assembled this squad – with the help of our board and recruitment team – and he’s got 99% of his signings bang on. Nine of today’s starting line-up – and all three subs – were signed by Critchley and we’ve secured our first home win against them since 1997. He’s working his way into Seaside folklore and it’s not just for the squad he’s built and how he’s prepared them, but also because he gets it. He gets what the fans need and expect, he appreciates what we’ve been through, he knows this is a special time for us as a club and he’s delivered on every level.
We have to start with the crazy situation on Saville Road. Blackpool and PNE fans both got sent down to the same street rather than crossing each other on Bloomfield Road – the perfect example of kicking a problem down the road rather than dealing with it. As expected, it resulted in some trouble with fans of opposing clubs clashing before police horses got there. It’s something we all knew was likely to happen in the build-up and there are no surprises that it did. It’s not a long-term solution, it’s a new problem and it needs dealing with.
The fact we only scored two
Let’s face it, this is a very poor PNE side. Frankie McAvoy is on borrowed time and surely won’t last the season – the hope is that he can keep them ticking along for a little while then capitulate in the spring when they haven’t got enough time to drag themselves out of their situation. We had a good opportunity to really batter them today, but we’ll settle for a humiliating afternoon for them where we out-sung them, outfought them and scored twice with no reply.
Carey and Dale on the bench
It was a shame for the new lads to have to sit this one out as most would say they were hard-done-by after their performances on Wednesday at Reading. But in Critch we trust and the two who played in their place – Anderson and Madine – we had both goalscorers with the former winning Man of the Match.
The PA system
I’m sure it’s on Simon Sadler’s shopping list but hasn’t quite made it up the priority list just yet. Let’s face it, it’s tin-pot and needs sorting as we can’t hear any announcements including team news, goalscorers and attendance figures in the stadium.
The fact we can’t play them every week
I’d say that’s the worst side we’ve played at Bloomfield Road so far this season. They won’t trouble the top half this season and could well get sucked into the relegation fight if they’re not careful. We’ll come up against better sides, starting with a trip to Bramall Lane next week. We can’t afford to count our chickens just yet on the fact we’re looking upwards rather than downwards in the table and currently sit joint-fifth – there will be a lot of twists and turns through the season. But we can afford to get carried away this week – another hoodoo removed by Critchley, the bragging rights are back and we are superior.
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