Millwall 3-1 Blackpool ~ Match Musings

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Drawing a rapid line under Saturday’s shaming display of perfect ineptitude we moved swiftly into “Lord, take me I’m ready” mode with the visit of the tangerine nightmare that is table topping Blackpool.

The wet and windy weather certainly made a few people’s minds up for them as to whether or not it would be more prudent to stay at home in the warm or in the pub slowly imbibing their merry way into sweet, sweet oblivion to nullify the dread and fear of another harrowing defeat that seemed inevitable. Barely 8,000 odd Millwall fans were joined by about 400 from the sea side and it is fair to say that the expectation levels were at polar opposites for the two sets of fans.

For me, at desolate times like these, I tend to fall back on some wise words from my plethora of philosophical mentors who have rarely guided me wrong over the years. This time I turned to the big guns to get my spirits up and who better to seek advice from than Billy Joel. Yes, the Brooklyn song smith always has a ready word or two to help you get through hard times and this time he again came up trumps when I called him up.

Don’t forget your second wind, he told me, sooner or later you’ll feel that momentum kick in and there in that simple phrase I found solace. In fact, he warbled the entire contents of his marvellous song You’re only Human into my shell likes and I felt fucking grand, I can tell you.

I was ready for Blackpool now and me and MrsB breezed into the ground with calmness about us that I bet Lomas would have paid good money for. The poor fucker is under the cosh, no question about it, he is in hot water and no mistake, how hot, you ask, hotter than a marshmallow on the end of Satan’s pitchfork I should imagine and with the table toppers looking to capitalise on our woeful home form (actually, strike that, just woeful form will do for now) the signs looked bleak for Lomas and the Lions.

When Deano Standing read the team sheet out (in the positions they will play in!) he informed us that both teams were going to start in a 4-3-3 and straight away there were nervous glances around the ground as we tried to second guess the new look line up, we didn’t get too much time to ponder as Deano’s voice boomed out over the PA…Forde in goal, Dunne, Robinson as captain, Beevers and Malone as the back four, a midfield trio of Abdou, Trotter and Bailey with the front three as Waghorn, McDonald and Woolford.

I won’t lie, I needed another bout of Billy Joel’s wisdom, I did not like the look of that set up at all. It looked vulnerable and a bit of a last chance saloon feel about it, which, in truth, it probably might have been. John Berylson et al filling out the posh seats, casting beady eyes on the touchline did little to soothe Lomas’ situation, or mine. I was worried; fuck knows how he was feeling.

The ref got us underway and the formation seemed to work from the off. We were playing some neat football and making steady progress but the underlying fear was simply that this was exactly how we had been playing all season.

In fact, when Waghorn walloped a thirty yarder and Gilks, their ‘keeper, spilled it, it seemed all too probable that we were going to rue the fact that there was no follow up.

But we did look a tad sharper. The sparse crowd were as one in their support as well, which makes a huge difference and after the opening ten minutes or so my hands were stinging through continued applause for the way we were adapting to the newish formation.

But almost as if was scripted the seemingly inevitable disaster struck on the quarter hour mark. A harmless looking ball into our box was met by Beevers who inexplicably plonked a soft header right at the feet of Ince who moved the ball to his favoured left boot and blasted it past Forde. 0-1. same old, same old…

The crowd though, sensed the situation was not quite the same though and they did not give up the ghost at all. The players, to their eternal credit also got the bit between their teeth and got straight back into the game, Blackpool’s fortuitous lead having no impact on our shape or game plan.

We were on top, despite the one goal deficit and when Waghorn crossed for Woolford to head it looked like the deserved equaliser but the ball hit the post and came back out and hit Gilks on the back before he grabbed the ball as most of us were up celebrating a goal.

Millwall never gave up, it was stirring stuff at times, and the crowd were now fully in synch with the team and believe me, it does make a difference.

The players responded well and the fact that throughout the whole of the first half I think we limited Blackpool to just the one effort (sadly it was the goal) and just as the half was petering out we got a life line. More pressure on the Blackpool defence saw Osbourne use his hand whilst fucking about on the floor stopping Abdou from having a shot at goal.

For a split second I thought the ref had given a free kick to Blackpool but no, my eyes did not deceive me, he was pointing to the spot for a penalty.

Liam Trotter took responsibility and despite Blackpool players doing their best to put him off, he made no mistake with the spot kick, 1-1 and we were right back in it. It was a great end to the half and the players were treated to a proper Millwall send off as they left the pitch.
We came out for the second half with a bit of much needed confidence and we kept up the pressure on the visitors, the fact that we were not just matching them but besting them really was an unexpected bonus but for all the possession we just couldn’t find a way through.

Lomas decided to make a change on the hour mark and replaced the industrious McDonald with fit again Morison and then took off Trotter and brought on Chaplow and with twenty minutes left to play we finally got our noses in front. Who says we never score from corners? Well, me usually so you can imagine my delight at getting it wrong this time. Woolford sent over a deep-ish ball and Bailey was left in acres of space and he volleyed home from close range. 2-1 and the place erupted in a tumultuous roar born out of relief, happiness and all things in between, and it was no more than we deserved.

The smiles were still playing around our faces when Blackpool kicked off and almost immediately gave the ball away, Alan Dunne clipped a long ball forward and Morison reminded us all of what he can do. He raced onto the pass, shrugging off the attention of a Blackpool defender and as the ball bounced into their box he let fly from the edge of the area and rifled the ball into the back of the net. 3-1! The world had gone fucking mad!

The celebrations were superb; you would have thought we had just won the league; such was the feeling between fans and players alike. It was a wonderful moment, you knew, just knew that there was no way Blackpool would come back from this, they were a beaten side and we cruised home.

Woolford made way for lee martin to come on and he looked as keen as mustard as well. In fact I have deliberately not really singled out any players as this was a proper team performance, we looked like a team, and we looked like we knew what we were doing out there, all the players were active, all the players run the hearts out, they were still smarting from Saturday’s defeat and this was going someway to bury that particular demon (and not just for the players)

The ref managed to find six minutes of added time and Forde made a decent save from Bishop volley but a second goal for Blackpool would really have been a travesty. They didn’t get it and they didn’t deserve to.

After the most appalling start to the season, we finally have something to cling onto. We have finally seen what this team is capable of and with the Charlton game approaching now, it doesn’t seem too bad at all.

I am aware that this win is not the be all and end all and for all it is worth a defeat against the Addicks would probably set us right back to where we were before this game but for now I am happy to wallow in the dulcet tones of Frank Rossi and co and just enjoy the win for what it was.

“If failure had no penalty success would not be a prize.”
Terry Pratchett, Sourcery
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