The adult shops and bargain booze were enough to attract a sizeable and noisy away contingent all full of useful ideas for places to put the famous Blackpool Tower.
Pre-match excitement at seeing the goalscoring heroes v Donny the previous week were swiftly dashed with news that Kermorgant and Arter were both out (presumably injured) with Pitman and O'Kane back in the team with MacDonald and Hughes promoted to the bench. Harte continued at left back in place of Daniels. So once again it was Grabban on his own up front with Pitman in close support. O'Kane and Surman in centre midfield with Fraser and Ritchie on the flanks in front of the new 'clean sheet' defence of Francis, Elphick, Cook and Harte with the excellent Camp in goal.
The initial exchanges confirmed the home team's lack of self-belief and after a 16 game winless descent down the table and a potential local derby with Fleetwood Town in Div One next season. Camp dealt well with an early effort on goal, parrying a hard struck shot before Ritchie cut inside and sent in a longe range effort along the ground to test the Blackpool keeper and followed this up with another similar shot this time with a wicked bounce. Harte then struck a pile-driver free kick into the defensive wall from a good central position.
Aside from this, the game was poor with no side able to dominate or put together any sustained pressure. Cherries looked defensively solid and appeared content to keep the score 0-0 rather than really go after a Blackpool team with fragile confidence. The only real scare was a penalty shout against Francis for handball at the edge of the box that might have been given. I noticed that Ritchie and Fraser swopped wings on the half hour (pre-arranged?) and that both wingers were quick to occupy thd full back positions when Harte and/or Francis were pushing forward in attack. With Elphick and Cook looking impregnable it was a shame we had no real cutting edge although Grabban once again showed good touch, control and skill up front with Ritchie featuring more than of late. 0-0 at half-time and not much to report.
Within two minutes of the re-start the Blackpool keeper charged out to the edge of his area to meet the on-rushing Grabban in a challenge he did not have to make but the collision and contact led to a clear penalty decision and yellow card for Gilkes. Grabban shot hard and low to the keeper's right into the Blackpool net. 1-0 to the Cherry Boys, which could be our new chant? The expected response from the home team did not extend beyond huffing and puffing and when danger loomed Elphick and Cook were quick to block and intercept. A crunching tackle by our captain near the side touchline was greeted with deserved hero worship by the noisy Cherries fans gathered along that side of Bloomfield Road.
Even Fraser managed a sliding tacke to prevent a corner before being replaced by Pugh after 58 mins. Blackpool made three substitutions to no real effect and Cherries remained comfortable and strong in defence when it mattered without really offering a goal threat themselves beyond set pieces. The game opened up a bit more towards the end and a swift counter move saw Pitman play in Pugh on goal but the resultant shot was weak. Pitman then wasted a free kick from a good position, blazing his shot high over the bar and it was a surprise not to see Rantie coming on as a replacement towards the end of the game. Perhaps Eddie felt it would be good for morale if the players who were preserving a clean sheet should see it through to the end (?) but it was strange to have no subs introduced even with four minutes stoppage time. By then the home support had long lost all interest in the game in favour of loud and vitriolic protests at the 'Oyston' ownership of the club. Worrying times indeed for Blackpool but two successive wins for the Cherries and TWO CLEAN SHEETS.
So all in all a poor game of few real chances but a great defensive display by Cherries. Harte and Francis look much improved in their defensive full-back role and Elphick and Cook were rock solid with Surman and O'Kane providing good protection. However this was primarily a team victory with no stand-out player. However for his two crunching tackles my man of the match award goes to Tommy Elphick who one hundred years ago would be the man I would want next to me in the trenches of Flanders.
AFCB: Camp, Francis, Elphick, Cook, Harte, Ritchie, Surman, O'Kane, Fraser, Grabban, Pitman
Subs: Allsop, Smith, MacDonald, Coulibaly, Hughes, Rantie, Pugh (for Fraser, 58 mins)
Jack Parker, Didsbury