Wigan Athletic 0-4 Blackpool: Match Report
Blackpool towered over the Premier League after a sensational return to top flight life as they destroyed hapless Wigan 4-0.
The team Ian Holloway has constructed on a shoe-string proved to be too well organised, too determined and frankly, too good for a Wigan outfit bereft of any quality.
In their first appearance at the highest level since 1971, Blackpool struck three times before the break to effectively wrap up the points in quite staggering fashion.
New-boy Marlon Harewood scored twice after Gary Taylor-Fletcher had put the visitors in front. Alex Baptiste profited from some wretched goalkeeping by Chris Kirkland to ensure Wigan were well and truly squashed by this group of Tangerines and draw ironic chants of "Bring on the Arsenal" from the visiting supporters, who head for the Emirates next week.
If Blackpool had taken any notice of the words that were said and written about them this week, they would not even have bothered to make the short journey south from their seaside base. The Premier League has a relatively short history but since the competition was formed in 1992, no side has been written off quite so mercilessly.
Nothing can be read into a single performance. Last season's results include a Burnley triumph over Manchester United from August 2009. But days like this will never be forgotten. It might not be in the class of the 1953 "Matthews" final. But those who were there will never forget the massacre at the DW Stadium. Blackpool's performance was made all the more remarkable by the knowledge Harewood, along with Elliot Grandin and the sturdy Craig Cathcart, were not even at Bloomfield Road at the start of the week.
Once the champagne corks have stopped popping and a breath can be taken, Holloway will be pointing out that in Blackpool's remaining 37 games, they will probably not be meeting a team quite as woeful as Wigan. Unrest behind the scenes is obvious given Charles N'Zogbia's non-appearance and after those horrendous maulings at Tottenham and Chelsea, it appears Roberto Martinez has not managed to instil any defensive discipline into his team.
Gaping holes were evident from the second minute, when Brett Ormerod twice failed to turn home relatively simple chances from the centre of the six-yard box. Harewood also put a header wide and the sense of foreboding among the home support began to grow. Those worries turned out to be completely justified. When the excellent Charlie Adam found Harewood, Ormerod made his way across the box, dragging a couple of defenders with him before allowing the ball to run on to Taylor-Fletcher at the far-post. For a play-off scorer at Wembley, tapping home unmarked was easy.
A second should have followed when Harewood was sent clean through, only for Kirkland to make an excellent save. It was a brief reprieve. The next time Harewood got hold of the ball, he tried his luck from the edge of the area. Kirkland appeared to have the effort covered but somehow allowed the ball to slip through his gasp.
Audible boos from the home support turned into full-scale dissension two minutes before the break when Kirkland failed to hold a Grandin effort and Harewood tapped home the rebound. Yet the cat-calls were drowned out by the celebrations amongst the visiting fans, who could not have imagined in their wildest dreams that their top flight return would turn out quite like this.
That Wigan improved after the break was not saying much. Steve Gohouri had a goal incorrectly disallowed at the start of the second period that might have made a difference and Mauro Boselli saw his angled header clip the bar. None of this erased the truth of a truly horrendous performance that must place major question marks over Martinez, even at this early stage, and the knowledge Chelsea are to be faced next week will not bring any consolation.
For Blackpool, that is an irrelevance. They will have their own bad days this season, maybe even worse ones than Wigan endured if Burnley are any guide. But that sea of orange will gorge on this incredible day for a long time and when Baptiste caught Kirkland out with a shot from the touchline that crept in at the near-post, it left them looking down on Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester United and the rest.
Those big boys had not played of course. But no-one really cared about that.
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