It’s fast, it’s serious, it’s fascinating edge-of-the-seat footballing fare. Blackpool’s Premier League journey is as entertaining as any end of the pier show the famous old seaside town has ever hosted.
Everton certainly knew they had been in a game as they were twice forced to come from behind before eventually hanging on to stretch their unbeaten run to six games.
It is an impressive sequence that has taken them from the bottom three to a position of top half of the table respectability although their manager, David Moyes, was disappointed not to have won this richly entertaining spectacle.
He said: “We had fewer chances to win, but you have to credit Blackpool. Winning in the Premier League is never easy, but I felt this game was there for us to win and it is clearly a case of two big points lost.
“It was heart in the mouth stuff at the end because we made a lot of poor decisions.”
Everton were clearly the classier side at Bloomfield Road yesterday, but Blackpool are nothing if not fighters and they forced their more illustrious visitors to scrap tooth and nail in an engrossing encounter.
Manager Ian Holloway said:
“We set out to entertain and we continue to do so. We are starting to look as good as some of the sides we are playing against and I am delighted for my players’ sake – they continue to keep going and improving. I am on a trip that I don’t want to stop.
“My biggest bugbear was that we didn’t hang on to the lead for long enough, but if we keep playing like that the results will come our way. We are looking like a Premier League side and this week we face a big test with successive away games at Aston Villa and West Ham.
“I thought we were terrific today, although I didn’t think we played as well as we have done, but we showed belief and desire and I was pleased we kept trying to win the game.”
A compelling first half was dominated by Everton, although they required a wake-up call to shake them to life after early home enterprise had enabled the hosts to take a deserved ninth-minute lead.
Blackpool had started well and when Mikel Arteta fouled Charlie Adam some 20 yards out, Neal Eardley despatched a curling right footed free-kick with aplomb to shock the visitors. It was clearly the spur Everton required. They responded effectively and when Steven Pienaar linked with Sylvain Distin, Yakubu took over to cross sharply from the left leaving Tim Cahill to head in, the home goalkeeper Matthew Gilks helping the ball in via a post.
The visitors retained control and with Blackpool at times playing narrow and with a somewhat naive approach at the back, Everton constantly threatened on both flanks. After Cahill had again gone close, Seamus Coleman, on loan at Blackpool last season, forced Gilks into further action and then curled a follow-up attempt behind. The half concluded with Cahill setting up Yakubu, whose spinning shot was safely gathered by Gilks.
The frenetic pace of the action spilled over into the second half and Blackpool again took the lead only for Everton once more to respond sharply.
There were home appeals for hand ball against Distin which fell on deaf ears. Everton, too, protested when Campbell appeared to handle, but the ball broke for David Vaughan, who finished comfortably in the 47th minute as the visitors appeared to hesitate.
Again the Everton reply was swift and decisive, with Coleman cutting in from the right to finish with an angled shot that Gilks should have dealt with more effectively.