Lyness display denies Cods historic Bloomfield win

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Neil McDonald – www.bbc.co.uk

The stage was set for Fleetwood Town. They had won six promotions in the last 11 years and the club’s incredible progress meant that they could play local rivals Blackpool in a league game, a situation many fans once thought would never happen. Not only could Fleetwood play them, they rightly fancied their chances, as the bookies placed the Cod Army as favourites ahead of Saturday’s game.

Their Tangerine opponents were in decline on the pitch as much as off it, as the team suffered a run of seven consecutive defeats while fans continuing their protests against owners Karl Oyston. Surely, this created the perfect opportunity for Fleetwood, a side that had just beaten in-form Millwall and knocked five goals past Swindon, to get their first ever derby victory. Think you’ve spotted the next plot in this incredible tale of two clubs that have been heading in different directions? Think again. An own goal and a superb goalkeeping performance from Dean Lyness defied narrative gravity and allowed Blackpool to take a fortuitous three points.

At the start of the match, Fleetwood were by far the stronger team. Following an amusing pre-match play-fight between mascots Bloomfield Bear and Captain Cod, the away side asserted themselves strongly in the opening exchanges. Steven Pressley’s men were first to every loose ball, they shifted it around with a lot more confidence than their rivals and were dictating play at will.

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David Henen – www.blackpoolgazette.co.uk

David Henen has made an impression in his first few games at Highbury, the forward possessing good physical qualities. The Everton loanee made some smart runs early on and his low cross nearly found David Ball, but the former Peterborough man could not make contact. On a day in which former Fleetwood player Jamie Vardy broke a Premier League goalscoring record, the Cod Army missed his finishing quality. The visitors were pilling on the pressure with a number of crosses flying across the box, but they could not find that final touch.

Blackpool failed to manage a shot on target during the match but on the few occasions in which they did attack, their play tended to come down the right flank. The Tangerines looked to expose the defensive frailties of left-back Amari’i Bell, a player yet to endear himself to the Fleetwood faithful. That was how the hosts scored the opening goal, as some naïve positioning from Bell allowed Brad Potts to cross the ball in and defender Nathan Pond diverted the ball into his own net. It was cruel on Pond, who had been at Fleetwood since 2003 and was a consistent part of the club’s rise up the divisions.

Blackpool looked solidified after their opener. For the criticisms that one might level at Neil McDonald’s side on the day, a lack of organization would not be one of them. Their centre-backs, Tom Aldred and Clark Robertson, were resolute and willing to throw their body at any shots that came their way.

Fleetwood, on the other hand, looked shell-shocked after the goal and struggled to rediscover the early intensity in their play. Tariq Fosu-Henry was one of the away side’s more energetic performers. The Reading loanee drew a couple of fouls with his strong runs and came closest to providing a first half equalizer, his shot saved by the goalkeeper after a David Ball lay-off.

Blackpool cross from the left flew across the face of goal, but there were not enough players breaking into the box. It was understandable that, defending a one goal lead, Blackpool were reluctant to commit men forward during their attacks. As a result, Fleetwood were never able to make progress during the transitional phases of play.

In the latter stages of the first half, the game adopted a scrappy feel, as Fleetwood struggled to find their passing rhythm. Away fans grew increasingly frustrated at the slow nature of their team’s football, with Antoni Sarcevic coming closest to scoring with a long range effort which was tipped over for a corner.

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Jimmy Ryan – www.blackpoolgazette.co.uk

Fleetwood fans, who had been treated to a sign in the away end saying, without irony: “thank you for travelling nine miles to support your team” saw an improvement from their side after the break. Highly-rated midfielder Jimmy Ryan sold David Norris a dummy and while his 51st minute strike lacked the power to test Dean Lyness, the team’s tempo was higher and the attacking intent was more visible. Fleetwood came even closer shortly afterwards. When Henen received the ball on the right hand side, nothing looked to be on, but the Belgian born forward hit the bar with a powerful effort.

The Fleetwood fans’ treatment of Dean Lyness acted motivational fuel for the Blackpool goalkeeper. The fans grew frustrated at former Burton man’s leisurely behaviour after picking up a minor injury, and began taunting him over the costly error he once made against Fleetwood at Wembley. To his credit, Lyness soon pulled off a series of reflex saves which preserved Blackpool’s lead.

The arrival of substitutes Bobby Grant and Nick Haughton gave Fleetwood a different outlet and both players came close to scoring. Grant forced Lyness into a save with a powerful long-range shot while the latter tested the inspired keeper from outside the area, after combining well with Jamie Proctor.

The unsavoury nature of the contest was furthered when Blackpool and Fleetwood players got into a scuffle, with Hayden White and Antoni Sarcevic heavily involved while Herron and Proctor also earned themselves bookings.

Blackpool conceded costly late goals in recent defeats to Southend and Port Vale but they managed to hold out this time for a much-needed three points. This is not a season-defining result. Given the defensive nature of the home side’s performance, there were few attacking players that could take much confidence from the victory.

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Dean Lyness – www.burtonalbionfc.co.uk

However, the Seasiders had to end a run of seven straight defeats and if they were going to do that, they needed to defend well, to have a bit of luck and for Dean Lyness to put in a strong goalkeeping display. All of those things happened and this victory, at least, takes Blackpool off the bottom and only one point adrift of safety.

Fleetwood, on the other hand, got into some good areas on the day and many of their attacking players showed plenty of energy and endeavour. The end product remained lacking as a combination of poor shooting and a string of Lyness saves denied them a goal.

Since coming in, however, Stephen Pressley has instilled a noticeably more attacking mind-set into his Fleetwood players, in terms of substitutions and the team’s overall play. If his side continue to move the ball as well as they did at times on Saturday, particularly at the beginning of both halves, the Cod Army should distance the gap between themselves and the relegation zone. Their first derby victory against Blackpool, however, will have to wait.