BISHOP STEALS IRON WIN
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