FairweatherFan

Millwall 2-2 Blackpool ~ match report

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There is always, for me at any rate, a sense of loss going in to the last game of the season. Another chapter in our footballing life is closing, the new season seems an eon away and all we have left is 90 minutes of football to look forward to.

I have to say though that I am mightily relieved that we were going into this game without anything of note to play for other than to try and extend our ludicrously exquisite winning run into six on the spin
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Blackpool’s tangerine army were in town for this, already assured of their playoff berth, their fans would surely flock to the Den to paint the away end orange…only someone, it seems, forgot to tell them. A pitiful following actually turned up, about a thousand bedraggled, bewildered looking northerners that had a somewhat air of hopeless apathy about them. Are they really on the cusp of a return to the premier league?

You wouldn’t think so, judging by the derisible demeanour they afforded. Bland Northerners should not be allowed out of Northernshire or whatever the godforsaken place is called if they cannot enjoy themselves when coming to our beloved metropolis.

We open our doors to these ungrateful bastards in the vain hope that seeing civilisation may encourage them to at least be able to garner a few phrases to allow us to understand what the fuck they are saying and yet they turn up ee by gummin’ and muttering eh oop lad at every opportunity.

We sat down and waited to hear the dulcet tones of Dean O’ Standing to tell us how Mr Jackett was going to entertain us for this last game of the season and to see the POTY trophies handed out as well. Nadjim Abdou got the vote over Robbo and Henderson and who am I to cast aspersions over this. Abdou has been a trooper all season, he has limited ability but a heart of a true Lion and has endeared himself into Millwall folklore for his simple enthusiasm and never say die attitude. I think he actually ‘gets’ us and that is a good place for any Millwall player to be. Well done that man.

So no doubt that Abdou was in the starting line-up but who joined him? Taylor in goal, Smith, Robbo, Lowry and Craig at the back, in midfield with Abdou we had Trotter, Wright and Henry leaving Kane and Keogh as our strike pairing, this was an unchanged side.

Referee Atwell blew his whistle and so began the countdown to our season finale and we started off the brighter of the two sides, as expected and we looked in control. Gilks in the Seassiders goal much the busier of the two ‘keepers, first saving well from a harry Kane fizzer and then at least two efforts from James Henry that had Gilks scurrying all over the place to keep the ball out.

Trotter also got in on the act, but again Gilks managed to deal with the threat but the pressure was building and when James henry picked up the ball on his favoured right flank he hit a lovely angled ball over the top of the Blackpool defence where Keogh was waiting to collect and he controlled the ball and slotted comfortably past the exposed Gilks for the opening goal of the game. 1-0! Thoroughly deserved and totally in keeping with the run of play.

The expected response from Blackpool never materialised and we nearly made it two nil soon after as Robbo got his head to a beauty of a cross from henry and in true text book style he got his header down but it bounced up and seemed to pirouette on top of the cross bar before dropping onto the roof of the net.

It was all one way traffic and the chances were building up so no guesses what happened the first time they had an attempt at goal. A hopeful free kick hit in from the left saw Tony Craig get blindsided by Evatt who managed to get his head to the ball and steer it past the stricken Taylor for the equaliser. 1-1. Boo hiss boo.

We then got the jitters as Blackpool finally decided to have a go and they narrowly missed going into the lead with a well struck free kick that went far too close for comfort and then Abdou did what he does best by intercepting what looked like a certain goal but the worse moment came when Shane Lowry had a brain fart and made a horrendous back pass that was always going to be collected by Blackpool’s Kevin Phillips and when he got the ball we feared the worse. He picked out Ince who must’ve thought he had the simplest of tap ins but again Abdou was there to thwart the startled striker and save the day.

We rode our luck a bit but after that little scare we soon rallied the troops and we finished the half well in command but unable to get that second goal.


No changes for Mr Jackett as the second half got under way and Abdou made it a Hat trick of goal stopping blocks as he thwarted the busy Ince from adding to the visitors tally and then the game really opened up with both teams playing free flowing football that was really enjoyable to watch.

We came the closest to getting the next goal when Trotter got a firm enough header from another James Henry cross but the burly midfielder was denied a goal as the ball was hacked off the line by Eardley.

We then fell for the old sucker punch, so prevalent during the season but thankfully a distant memory in recent games, as a fairly innocuous cross from Crainey seemed to take an age to cross our box but eventually it landed at the feet of Dicko who was never going to miss from close range. 1-2. Bugger and bollocks. This certainly took the shine off the occasion and we all sort dipped, albeit briefly, into miserable bastard mode as we watched the Lions try to claw their way back into the game.

It is not unfair to say that earlier in the season we would have succumbed to this set back and not got back into the game but our recent excellent run of form has put a bit more steel in the resolve of this team and far from capitulating, we went in active search of the equaliser we richly deserved.

The boisterous home crowd were right behind the team as they probed and pushed forward looking for that chink in the Blackpool armour and Mr Jackett finally made a change when he took off the effervescent Wright and sent on Batt to try and mix things up a bit.

2 minutes later we got out reward. Batt had been terrorising the visitors from the second he got on and their defence was in full panic mode as Craig chipped a longish ball to the edge of their penalty area and Batt got his head to the ball but it sort of spun upwards. It looked like Lowry headed it into the box as their defence only managed to half clear the ball straight to Harry Kane who justified all the plaudits we have bestowed on him by planting a cracker straight into the net. 2-2 and much joy was had by all.

We never looked like losing after this and although the remainder of the game ebbed and flowed the draw was probably about right in the end.

So we finish the season as we began with a 2-2 draw and a respectable final position of sixteenth was made a bit more sweeter by the fact that palace lost so we finished above them after they squandered a 15 point advantage over us.

Well, this has been a funny season all in all, from the sublime to the ridiculous and back again via the confusion but throughout the campaign the constant theme was always centred on one thing or more to the point one man and that was and remains Kenny Jackett. He has been treated kindly by the Millwall faithful who we know can turn on a sixpence from being your best pal to your worst enemy in less than 90 minutes but not so this time for Mr Jackett. He has wormed his way (in a nice way) into our affections and looks set for the long haul and why not?

To me, this season has simply flown by and whether that is because of age or memory or just plain ignorance on my part, I hope the close season goes just as quick so we can get back to what we know and love and that is following the Lions all over this green and pleasant land to have highs and lows and mediocre in between as we pit our collective wits against the rest of the championship which looks like being a pretty decent league next term.
Thank you all for taking time out to read my musings and I appreciate all the comments my ramblings attract. I will carry on next term in the same vein and hope you will join me as we stake our claim for a tip at the poxy promised land of the premier league of English (and therefore the best) football.

See you all there!
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