We arrived in Blackpool a couple of hours early, under grey skies and feeling somewhat nervous. As we walked around the streets near Bloomfield Road and then onto the promenade it is clear to see that the town has seen better days. Bed & Breakfasts, fast food and tacky gift shops proliferate. A banner outside one B & B proudly states ‘Refurbished for 1974’ – you certainly need a sense of humour in Blackpool.
As we entered the ground at about 2.45pm and took our seats I checked my Twitter feed – someone is saying they’ve been showing the 4-0 Blackpool win at Wigan on the big screen. It seemed the Seasiders are getting a bit too cocky, shouldn’t they show a bit more respect for their opponents.
As we are about to start there is a feeling of nervousness amongst the Wigan fans, most feel it is win or bust. The game kicks off under clear blue skies, the morning clouds have dispersed but is it going to be a new dawn for Wigan. We start briskly and some sloppy Blackpool defending by Cathcart lets in Rodallega who finishes expertly after only two and a half minutes. The Wigan fans go crazy, some are ecstatically punching the air, others are hugging the person nearest to them. Everyone feels that we are in this together. It is a dream start for the Latics, but can they maintain it?
Diame and McCarthy are combative in the midfield but it seems that Referee Peter Walton is giving most decisions to the home side, a couple of obvious fouls on James McCarthy are waved away by Walton much to the disbelief of the Wigan fans. But despite Walton’s apparent bias Wigan are winning the battle for possession and are clearly the better of the two sides. Charlie Adam Blackpool’s talisman is subdued and is struggling to make his mark. Ben Watson is predominant in the centre of midfield and is having his best game of the season, it is to become a Man of the Match performance, he wins nearly every tackle and distributes the ball with precision.
Just before the interval Wigan grab a second, Diame makes a good interception and passes to N’Zogbia who dribbles his way into the Blackpool box and angles his shot past Gilks who seems rooted to the spot. Two nil to the Latics at half time and the atmosphere amongst the Wigan fans is buoyant.
The second half starts in much the same way as the first with Wigan producing some slick passing and N’Zogbia terrorising the Blackpool defenders with his mazy dribbles. With thirty minutes remaining Holloway makes a triple substitution but almost immediately it is game over as Blackpool concede a third as Diame’s shot is deflected past Gilks by Eardley. The Wigan fans are jubilant but also incredulous – when was the last time we were winning 3-0 away in such a crucial game?
It look as though Wigan will go onto get a fourth, but then we would surely be dreaming. In the dying minutes DJ Campbell grabs a consolation for Blackpool and restores some kind of reality. But Wigan have been dominant throughout and thoroughly deserve the victory.
As the jubilant Wigan fans leave the ground news starts to emerge about the other results Birmingham have won 2-0 against Sunderland, but Blackburn have lost 2-0 at Everton and a late goal for Aston Villa beats West Ham. Wigan are out of the bottom three for the first time in months. Has Blackpool ever been so beautiful?