Sunday Mirror - - FOWLER ROBBIE - By JOHN RICHARD­SON at Bloom­field Road

CHRIST­MAS had come early for most Black­pool fans with Fri­day’s an­nounce­ment that pan­tomime vil­lains Owen and Karl Oys­ton had put the club up for sale.

But they didn’t ex­actly come flock­ing to Bloom­field Road yes­ter­day to dance on the grave of their de­spised own­ers.

Just 5,037 turned up, with 1,711 mak­ing the long jour­ney from the south coast, with reg­u­lars in­sist­ing the to­tal had been ar­ti­fi­cially in­flated.

Maybe there’s a fear among the fans that it won’t hap­pen – and that it’s an­other just false prom­ise.

The car­ni­val has been placed on hold.

A sea­side town known for its stag and hen par­ties will have to wait for a right old tan­ger­ine knees up.

Owen turned up in his tra­di­tional flam­boy­ant head­gear but there was no sign of son Karl as a spir­ited Black­pool were squeezed out in a thriller, all the goals ar­riv­ing in a hec­tic sec­ond half.

His club’s sup­port­ers have been on an in­cred­i­ble roller­coaster ride – one that would not look out of place on the neigh­bour­ing Plea­sure Beach.

‘The Big One’ saw them reach the heights of the Premier League for one sea­son only un­der Ian Hol­loway be­fore crash­ing all the way down into League Two and dic­ing with rel­e­ga­tion to the back­wa­ters of non-league foot­ball.

Even last sea­son’s pro­mo­tion to League One via a Wem­b­ley play-off did not per­suade the ma­jor­ity to end their boy­cott, which has seen at­ten­dances at the one-time home of Stan­ley Matthews and Jimmy Arm­field av­er­age around a pal­try 4,000.

Yes­ter­day, it was the buoy­ant Portsmouth fans – who have gone through a few cri­sis Alexan­der said: “We left it late, but it was de­served be­cause we were the team that was re­ally push­ing to win.

“We came up against a very stub­born Bris­tol Rovers side.

“They slowed the game down, de­fended deep and in num­bers, but thank­fully the of­fi­cials put on the right amount of time at the end.

“We said to the ref ‘you’re not go­ing to stop them slow­ing it down, but you’ve got to add the time on if that’s how it’s go­ing to be’. They did that and that’s when the win­ning goal came. “Fair play to them, they of­fi­ci­ated it prop­erly.” Rory Gaffney fired into the side net­ting early on for Rovers. But the hosts soon got on top and saw Lee No­vak’s ef­fort blocked by Lee Brown af­ter Rovers’ Tom Broad­bent had al­most put through his own net af­ter beat­ing his own keeper to a cross.

Bishop was then on hand to ghost into the area and snatch a late Scun­thorpe win­ner. Rovers man­ager Dar­rell Clarke felt his side had “de­fended su­perbly for 94 min­utes” – but said of the goal, “We needed a lit­tle bit more nous in our de­fend­ing.

“We can’t feel sorry for our­selves, we’ve got to pick our­selves up and go again.” Pos­ses­sion 56% 44% Shots On Tar­get 4 1 Shots Off Tar­get 3 2 Blocked Shots 2 0 Cor­ners 14 2 Fouls Con­ceded 7 8 Off­sides 2 1 Yel­low Cards 2 2 Red Cards 0 0 DEREK ADAMS was de­lighted af­ter gritty Ply­mouth sealed a mem­o­rable away day.

A Jake Jervis goal and a su­perb penalty save from Remi Matthews earned Ar­gyle a first win at Val­ley Pa­rade in 24 years.

The re­sult stretched their un­beaten run to six games and lifted them off the bot­tom of League One.

Man­ager Adams said: “It was a top per­for­mance over­all against a team that prob­a­bly ran out of ideas.

“We de­fended very well and we’ve come to a place where there’s 20,000 fans and won.”

Adams was crit­i­cal of the Brad­ford penalty award, and es­pe­cially ref­eree Carl Boye­son.

Boye­son deemed City skip­per Ro­main Vincelot was fouled in the area, al­though it looked a soft de­ci­sion on re­flec­tion.

Luck­ily for Ply­mouth, Matthews pulled off a ter­rific save to keep out Tony McMa­hon’s spot-kick and pre­serve vic­tory.

“Remi got the ref­eree out of jail be­cause it wasn’t a penalty,” in­sisted Adams. “I’ve seen it on the video and it’s not a penalty. The ref­eree takes so long to give it, it’s un­be­liev­able.”

The one mo­ment of true qual­ity in the first half was when the vis­i­tors went in front on 35 min­utes.

David Fox pierced the City de­fence with an ex­cel­lent through pass to find Lionel Ainsworth and his cen­tre ar­rived on a plate for Jervis to prod be­yond Colin Doyle.

Brad­ford ral­lied but Paul Tay­lor was twice de­nied by Nor­wich loa­nee Matthews, the sec­ond save see­ing the stop­per tip a long-range ef­fort onto the wood­work and out for a cor­ner.

City came out roar­ing af­ter the restart and Jake Reeves smacked the cross­bar just be­fore the hour as the hosts upped the ante.

It was back­sto-the-wall stuff from that point on, with City at­tack­ing and Ply­mouth ef­fec­tively camped in their own area.

On 78 min­utes it looked very much as if Ar­gyle’s luck had run out when City got the penalty.

But, again, Matthews came to the res­cue and en­sured the points went back to Devon.

For City, it was back-toback home de­feats for the first time since 2015.

Ban­tams boss Stu­art McCall said: “I give credit to Ply­mouth be­cause they de­fended for their lives.” Pos­ses­sion 60% 40% Shots On Tar­get 5 2 Shots Off Tar­get 11 4 Blocked Shots 3 0 Cor­ners 9 1 Fouls Con­ceded 6 10 Off­sides 1 0 Yel­low Cards 0 4 Red Cards 0 0

BIG DIP­PER Pom­pey are pegged back to 2-2 through Hawkins’ own goal

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