Blackpool v Barnsley FA Cup Preview
By Editor
Friday 06 Jan 2017 10:22:00
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One of the (many) things that's a downside to being a Blackpool fan is that sense of reservation, unease and unwillingness to join in with some of the big days in the football calendar. Fixture release day was a damp squib, the opening day of the season went largely unnoticed and lights were out well before the end of transfer deadline day. One of key events of the season is the 3rd round of the FA Cup (which was predominantly a one afternoon affair but these days sadly is spread over four days). Blackpool's inclusion in that draw for a number of years was guranteed but since we've slipped down the football pyramid and have to fight for our place, it should be a valued and treasured occasion. Sadly, for the meantime, it seems little more than an unwanted distraction for many fans.

The fact that Blackpool were pulled out of the hat to face Barnsley was a comfort to those who are continuing to boycott games. A top flight Prem team may have proved more of a draw, however we've faced the Tykes more times than most sides over the years including three times in the FA Cup since 1982. The 4-1 away win in 2002 (with goals from Hills, Murphy, Dalglish and Taylor) was the pick of those ties although the last time the two sides faced each other in the competition, Barnsley were 2-1 winners despite 'Pool taking the lead through David Fox. There was a time when a home tie in any cup competition was a rarity for the Seasiders and it's ironic that it's in a season where fans are refusing to attend in large numbers that we've been drawn at Bloomfield Road 7 times. A pay cheque of £67,500 is the prize for the winner but maybe more important for those in charge of the purse strings is the chance of that fourth round jackpot. There'll be few fans in the country who wouldn't want their club to receive that - Seasiders fans wouldn't share that enthusiasm.

It looked like Gary Bowyer's side were starting to make some real headway in the league this season but defeats against Luton and Mansfield at home proved they are some way short of the real deal. Whilst the manager may feel he has enough in his squad, there are still reservations over a number of key positions and if he is looking to an FA Cup windfall to fill those gaps, then Saturdays game may take on more significance. The days of Barnsley being our equals (or even Blackpool being the favourites in a game between the two sides) are long gone and instead we can but look on in envy at where the Tykes are in the Championship. A return to the top flight will be their aim this season and it'll be interesting to see how much Paul Heckingbottom changes his side. As for Bowyer, you'd suspect he'll go with the side that served him well before Christmas with the possible exception of Colin Daniel as he recovers from injury.

A rare appearance on Match of the Day, a possible cup upset and a chance to pit our wits against players now at a higher level are what the 3rd round of the FA Cup is all about for lower league teams but maybe for Blackpool fans who'll be sat at home who'll remember the last time these sides faced each other in the FA Cupin 2008, it's a reminder of what could and should have been.

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