BLACKPOOL 2 CITY 1
FA Cup 3rd Round
7th January 1984
City Hetzke(27 og)
Blackpool McNiven(4), McNab(43 og)
Ref Ken Redfern
City Williams, Lomax, Walsh, Bond, Power, McCarthy, McNab, Baker, Parlane, May, Tolmie – sub Dalziel(37)
Blackpool Pierce, Moore, Ferns, Rodaway, Hetzke, Greenall, Britton, Mercer, Stewart, Windridge, McNiven – sub Dyer(unused)
I WILL not forget in a hurry my first experience of the English F.A. Cup. I found it a most unenjoyable day at Blackpool in the third round last Saturday, probably the greatest disappointment I’ve endured in my six months at City.
All the briefings, every warning about what we had to expect, were quite clearly forgotten. And the strategies that had been outlined to cope with a Fourth Division side who were obviously going to be rampant on their own ground, were simply overlooked. Spitting and fuming about the afternoon’s performance is not going to get us back in the Cup and seeking sympathy for lack of reasonable fortune in the second half cannot disguise the fact that we did not look worthy of winning the tie.
The day went wrong very quickly. Our players were pointedly made aware that we would have to match the enthusiasm and stand up to all the energy which Blackpool would unleash right from the kick-off. Instead of applying ourselves that way we gifted them a fourth minute goal, the type of tonic which giant-killing deeds are built from. In those opening stages, when they could have easily had more than one goal, we permitted their enthusiasm and determination to overpower and throw us from our stride.
There is no question that they had the tactics for the conditions and that the windy day was far more suited to their approach. The conditions eliminated the skill factor, which is normally where we have our emphasis.
But that was no reason for us to stand back and let Blackpool grab the game by the throat. The wind was tailor-made for knocking the long balls downfield, which they did with great gusto after winning the toss and choosing to kick with the storm at their backs, and it was always going to leave defenders under pressure. But the City players didn’t do themselves justice in their application-they had been warned of such dangers and the need to be more straightforward.
I’ve played in many Cup ties of that nature … a day when you roll your sleeves up and get in the thick of the battle and match everything the opposition can throw. We allowed ourselves to be played out of the game.
There was just one stage where I thought we might regain our composure and dictate the match. Once Paul Power’s cross had been turned into the Blackpool net by a home defender for our equaliser I felt we’d erase the nightmare start and would get down to business. At that stage could even see a City victory.
concede a further goal just 3 minutes from the interval, an own goal at that, was stupefying. It was an enormous psychological boost to Blackpool. Their goals came almost straight from the kick-off, which kept up their early impetus, and then just on half-time with not enough minutes left for us to do any repair work.
We looked slightly better in the second half without appearing convincing. The team should have had earache after what I said to them at half time about their display and some improvement after my strong words was inevitable.
We had a justifiable complaint about a hand-ball incident when Gordon Dalziel was breaking through, but the penalty award never happened. We had our misfortune with the late flurries which produced two Graham Baker headers worthy of scoring. These incidents might just have won us a replay, but it would not have been one earned with distinction.
We had allowed ourselves to be hustled out of the match. Blackpool defended resolutely, battled every inch, took every advantage available to them and we paid for our lack of positive approach with a 2-1 defeat.
Believe me, my pride has taken a severe dent from that result and performance. We have a lot of improvements still to make.
BILLY MCNEIL WRITING IN THE CITY PROGRAMME 14TH JANUARY 1984