Watching Blackpool play their debut Premier League game at Bloomfield Road against Fulham today, the 90 minutes surprised me. It felt like going to the movies to see a film you didn’t think would be that good, but you walked away with a better appreciation and a warm and fuzzy feeling. The game featured end-to-end action with two teams that both had a decent chance to win the game; a rarity in the Premier League these days.
Sadly, it was probably the game that most soccer supporters were least likely to watch. In America, it was only shown live on FoxSoccer.tv. But the game isn’t scheduled for replay on television until 9am Sunday on Fox Soccer Channel (or you can watch a 45 minute version of the game on FoxSoccer.tv). If you get a chance to watch it, I highly recommend it. Surprisingly, it was one of the most enjoyable matches I’ve seen since the season kicked off.
The match itself was a perfect specimen of Blackpool’s very attractive attacking style of soccer. The Seasiders are very creative moving the ball into open spaces up front and gave Fulham goalkeeper David Stockdale plenty of work to do in front of Fabio Capello who was in the crowd to watch the promising keeper. But it was against the run of play when Fulham scored the first goal of the match. On his way to assisting on the goal Moussa Dembele, the Belgian striker signed by Fulham just ten days ago, tripped a Blackpool player before making a run and then proceeded to cross the ball into Bobby Zamora’s path to make it 1-0. The decision seemed harsh against Blackpool, but the Tangerines were fortunate later in the match to equalize after John Paintsil scored an own goal, so things evened out.
Not to take anything away from Fulham, who were equally attractive to watch and seem to be getting into their groove, but this Blackpool team is also a joy to watch. Players such as Brett Ormerod, Luke Varney, Gary Taylor-Fletcher and Charlie Adam, just to name a few, are a breath of fresh air. Varney deservedly scored to make it 2-1 to Blackpool. And it seemed as if it was going to be Ian Holloway’s day until Dembele assisted on one of the goals of the season with an absolutely exquisite pass that cut open the Blackpool defense and fell into the path of Dickson Etuhu who scored a beautiful goal to make it 2-2.
Worryingly for US soccer and Clint Dempsey, Dembele was an inspiration today for Fulham after assisting on both goals and being a key player in Fulham’s team. Dembele played instead of Dempsey. And based on the Belgian’s performance today, Dempsey may have a difficult time finding a way to get back into this side.
Overall, this was a highly entertaining match with plenty of attempts on goal that kept both goalkeepers busy. These were two attacking sides bent on trying to get all three points. And the home side, especially, was buoyed by an enthusiastic crowd of working class people who were supporting a working class team. If Blackpool can keep on playing as inspired as they were today, the Seasiders may become a team that many neutral observers will respect and will enjoy watching.