Sunday, 31 July 2016

Blackpool 1 v 1 Bury

Saturday 30th July 2016
Pre-season Friendly
Bloomfield Road, Blackpool
Admission: £5.00
Programme: £2.00
Attendance: 1000 (estimate)
Match Rating: 2

I had wanted to visit Blackpool and tick off Bloomfield Road for many years, but being relatively difficult and expensive to get to from the south-east coast has put me off in the past. However, bargain £20.00 return Virgin train tickets from London to Preston, combined with exceptionally cheap football match tickets – even for a friendly – meant that this was the day to finally head to the Lancashire coast.

Although Blackpool South train station is much closer to Bloomfield Road, I arrived at Blackpool North station, to enjoy visits to Blackpool Tower and two of the town’s three piers en route to the ground. From the outside, Bloomfield Road looks an impressive and smart modern stadium, unsurprising as the ground has been completely redeveloped since the turn of the Millennium, and with the club reaching the Premiership. Statues of club legends Jimmy Armfield and Stan Mortensen are located outside, behind the stands bearing their names. Inside, stands along one length and behind both goals are joined together with wrap-around corners, are of consistent height and appearance, and offer unobstructed views with plenty of leg room. Hospitality boxes are located above the single tier seating, with a hotel located towards the outer corner behind one of the goals. Whilst those three sides are very similar in appearance, the remaining length looks completely different, with a temporary look about it and with a grey metal structure, and there are plenty of floodlight pylons along the front to obstruct one’s view. The club no longer makes use of this stand, presumably until there is sufficient demand for it to be open. A 24 page programme was produced covering last Saturday’s match as well as today’s and was quite an interesting read.

Blackpool are preparing for life in League Two after a 22nd place finish in League One last season spelt relegation. The atmosphere around the club remains highly toxic, with forceful and at times ugly protests against the club’s owner having simmered down to a large proportion of their fanbase now staying away from Bloomfield Road. Bury finished last season in 15th place in League One. In the league meetings last season, Bury won 4-3 at home before a 1-1 draw at Bloomfield Road in March.

On a cool July day that was overcast for the most part, the first half was quite a dull affair for the most part, with gentle passing around - not always particularly accurately – for the most part. There was little between the two teams, with Blackpool looking slightly the better team. However, it was Bury who came closest to opening the scoring right on half time, when Kelvin Etuhu struck a low shot across the keeper but the ball came back off the far post.

 Bury certainly upped a gear in the second half and they went into the lead on 50 minutes. Blackpool’s Tom Aldred was dispossessed in midfield by Etuhu, who sprinted towards goal before striking a low cross shot into the far corner of the net. Although Blackpool almost equalised within a minute, when a Mark Yeates free kick fizzed just wide of the far post following a slight deflection, the game seemed to be heading towards a narrow defeat for the home side, until a rare moment of quality saw them equalise a minute before the end. Rohan Roache played a perfect low ball through the defence for Tom Potts to run on to unchallenged, and he strode forward before coolly shooting low into the far corner.

Brief video highlights of this match can be found by clicking here.

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