By Gerry Prewett.
Bristol Rovers once again head north this weekend. After going down so narrowly to Barnsley, the Gas will be hoping they can collect all three points at Blackpool. The Tangerines have had a fine run in the Carabao Cup, which saw them go out 2-1 to Arsenal at the Emirates on Wednesday evening.
They are currently in 12th place in the table but have two games in hand on most teams, two victories would put them up into the Play-Off spots. On Saturday the North West team suffered just their second loss of the League season when they went down 3-2 to near neighbours Fleetwood.
Fleetwood shocked Blackpool with a goal in the 4th minute, Wes Burns scoring after dancing past a host of Blackpool players and drilling the ball into the bottom right corner.
Ross Wallace doubled the lead in the 11th minute, thundering the ball past Mark Howard from distance. Fleetwood looked to be comfortably securing their first ever Fylde Coast derby league win. But, Blackpool woke up as the half progressed, Jordan Thompson bundling home a Nathan Delfouneso centre from the left 11 minutes before half-time.
Fleetwood substitute Paddy Madden netted his sixth of the season and restored the home team’s two goal advantage, sliding home an Ash Hunter pull-back in the 58th minute. But Blackpool replied a minute later, Delfouneso beating Cairns. Fleetwood coach Clint Hill had been sent off from the dug-out after picking up a yellow card for pushing ex-Gas Marc Bola and Blackpool also finished the game with 10-men after Armand Gnanduillet was sent off after an incident with James Husband.
Blackpool boss, Terry McPhillips speaking after the game was looking forward to the game at the Emirates, “We’ll dust ourselves down and go again for what is a good occasion on Wednesday. We’ll have a right good go. We’ve got nothing to lose.
“It’s football. We’ll try to win every game if we can, but if we can’t we’ll try to draw them. We haven’t managed to do either of those but we’ve got a good tie against Arsenal. We’ll get over this game and look forward to that one, and then it’s back to the league next Saturday against Bristol Rovers.”
“We knew how desperate they were to beat us for the first time. They made no secret of that, so we expected them to come out of the traps but I expected our lads to do better than they did. Whether we were looking ahead to the game on Wednesday, I don’t know the answer.”
“What I do know is we always get a response and we did respond. We did better at the end of the first half and in the second half. Did we do enough with that response, like we did against Bradford? No, we didn’t. After going 2-0 down against Bradford we were fantastic. “We changed the shape towards the end and I was hoping we’d play a little bit more football but we didn’t really.”
“We just kept asking questions without creating a great chance. It’s disappointing the run is over but we will dust ourselves down and go again. The lads always battle, we’ve been in every game. It’s our second league defeat. The last one was Portsmouth and in that game we fought to the end. They always do, they’re good lads, but we’ve just not been our usual selves here.”
There has been a total of 34 meetings between the clubs over the years and (with the exception of the games last season) they all came in the years between 1974-2000. The first game took place at Eastville on 28 September 1974 and the away team came away with both points (just two for a win in those days). Paul Hart, Micky Walsh and substitute Stuart Parker scoring for Blackpool and Bruce Bannister scoring a penalty for Rovers. The return match at Bloomfield Road on 15 March 1975 saw a battling 0-0 draw.
Things were better for Rovers the following season as they won 4-1 in Lancashire on 25 October 1975, Wilf Smith, Gordon Fearnley (2) and Bruce Bannister with another penalty for Rovers and Alan Suddick for Blackpool.
Things took a distinct change for the worse for Rovers however as they lost on the next five visits to the seaside town. The biggest margin in these games came on 21 February 1987 when goals by Paul Stewart (2), Mark Taylor (2), Craig Madden and Mike Davis saw Blackpool notch 6 to Rovers single goal from David Mehew. That run also included 4-0 and 4-2 defeats as well!
Possibly GasHeads all time favourite game would have taken place on 5 May 1990 as Rovers secured the 1989-90 Third Division Championship with a 3-0 win at Bloomfield Road David Mehew, Phil Purnell and Paul Nixon all scored to record a famous victory.
On 24 April 2000 Rovers come away from Bloomfield Road empty handed, going down to a 2-1 defeat. Wayne Gill and James Thomas scored for the Tangerines and Jason Roberts for the Gas.
Last season a fairly uninspiring game finished goal-less with chances at a premium, Rovers' best falling to Rory Gaffney who had an early goal disallowed and also rounded the keeper in the second half but couldn't finish from a tight angle.
Nathan Delfouneso was also disappointed by the way Saturday’s game played out, “We are all disappointed in there, no doubt about that. You don’t want to lose any game. We know we’re much better than that, but we can’t be too downhearted because we’ve done a lot of good work before this one game”
“They were on the front foot and you could tell they were hungry. They scored two goals, and once they score two goals you always know it’s going to be a mountain to climb, even though we feel we can come back. Unfortunately, we couldn’t. We’ll now look back at it and come back stronger.”
“I’m happy to get an assist and a goal individually but, at the same time, it didn’t help us to go and get any points out of the game. Overall, it’s one defeat in 12 matches and I’ve no doubt we’ll come back stronger.”