Cher­ries run riot as shat­tered Black­pool boss Clark apol­o­gises

The Football League Paper - - FRONT PAGE - By Chris Dunlavy

SOME­TIMES you can blame the ref. Some­times pure bad luck. And some­times, there is no op­tion but to ad­mit you’ve been butchered.

“I’m angry, I’m em­bar­rassed, I’m dis­ap­pointed – all of those things,” said shell-shocked Black­pool boss Lee Clark. “I want to apol­o­gise to our sup­port­ers and I don’t for a minute want any of them to think this is an ac­cept­able sit­u­a­tion.

“But I said be­fore the game even started that Bournemouth are the best side in the league. They didn’t do any­thing that we didn’t ex­pect but this a tal­ented squad of play­ers who work in­cred­i­bly hard.

“Add those at­tributes to­gether and you can see why they are top of the league.”

No­body could ar­gue with that. Though desperately lack­ing qual­ity, the Seasiders have been im­bued with a new-found steel un­der Clark and wel­comed Bournemouth on the back of a four-match un­beaten run.

But faced with a whirl­wind of at­tack­ing power that has now scored an in­cred­i­ble 50 times in 22 matches, they didn’t have a hope in hell.

From two-goal hero Matt Ritchie on the right to metro­nomic full­back Charlie Daniels on the left, the Cher­ries never stopped com­ing for­ward, even when the olés were rolling and the Tan­ger­ine masses had headed for the ex­its.

“It’s right up there with our best per­for­mances,” said Bournemouth boss Ed­die Howe, whose side now stand alone at the top of the ta­ble.

“We haven’t al­ways been that ruth­less. I’ve known games when we’ve been in to­tal con­trol and haven’t put teams to bed. But that’s a cou­ple of times now we’ve dealt out heavy de­feats and it’s come on the back of putting five past Cardiff last week. It’s a good sign and I hope there’s more to come. I’m de­lighted with where we are and I’m de­lighted with the way we’re play­ing. But there are still big tests to come.”

In fair­ness to Clark, you could see what Black­pool were try­ing to do; press and squeeze in their own half, drop off and let Bournemouth play in theirs. For 15 min­utes or so, it was text­book stuff.

But the Seasiders sim­ply could not main­tain the in­ten­sity or con­cen­tra­tion re­quired to keep Howe’s men at bay. All too soon they were watch­ing help­lessly as the vis­i­tors weaved pretty pat­terns, scram­bling raggedly to fill spa­ces the ball had just left.

Inch-by-inch the Cher­ries crept for­ward. Inch-by-inch Black­pool fell back. And when the ball found Ritchie wide on the right, the winger jinked inside and scuffed a low left-footed bob­bler that some­how squirmed un­der Joe Lewis.

It was a ter­ri­ble mis­take, com­pounded just be­fore half-time when Chris Ea­gles was mugged on the by­line by Daniels. The full­back teed up Callum Wilson to tap home and the game was up.

Black­pool played with greater tempo and ag­gres­sion in the sec­ond half but it was lit­tle more than the fren­zied thrash­ing of a slaugh­tered pig.

Their op­por­tu­nity to af­fect the game had long gone and when Ritchie picked his head up to curl a pearler into the top cor­ner from 20 yards, a thrash­ing felt immi-

nent. Nathan Delfouneso did stab one back for Black­pool but the fi­nal strains of ‘Glad All Over’ hadn’t even died be­fore Wilson was sent tum­bling for a penalty.

Brett Pit­man was calm­ness per­son­i­fied, scor­ing first in the top cor­ner and then in the bot­tom when ref Andy Made­ley or­dered a re­take.

What fol­lowed was ruth­less as Marc Pugh headed home Ritchie’s de­flected cross be­fore Harry Arter thumped in from 12 yards.

“Be­fore this, this group of lads has worked tire­lessly for me,” said Clark, whose side now sit ten points adrift of safety at the foot of the Cham­pi­onship.

“When we’ve had set-backs on the pitch, they’ve fought for me. I want them to know I’ll fight for them. So I’ll take this de­feat on the chin. I’ll front it up for ev­ery­one in the dress­ing room.

“We’ll stick to­gether and we’ll keep fight­ing. No­body here is giv­ing up.”

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Images

ART BEAT: Harry Arter, cen­tre, cel­e­brates scor­ing Bournemouth’s sixth goal in their rout of Black­pool

PIC­TURE: Pin­na­cle

QUAL­ITY QUAR­TER: Matt Ritchie, right, cel­e­brates scor­ing Bournemouth’s first. In­set: Brett Pit­man nets from the spot

ROUND OF AP­PLAUSE: Bournemouth boss Ed­die Howe slat­ues the Cher­ries’ trav­el­ling support at full-time

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