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Blackpool 2-2 Crystal Palace

After all the huffing and puffing surrounding the construction of the South Stand, it was somewhat ironic that a technical hitch at Vital HQ prevented us from publishing a match preview or reporting on the stand's opening.

Thankfully there were no problems when it came to opening the stand named after Jimmy Armfield - the problems seem to be on the pitch at the moment.

After such a brilliant, nay miraculous season, the Seasiders have slipped out of playoff contention just at the wrong time.

Mid-table obscurity has never sounded as bad, and I'd much rather we miss out on the playoffs by the skin of our teeth than fade away in the final quarter of the season (although I'd probably not say that if we did miss out on the top six by the skin of our teeth!).

There's a multitude of reasons for the Seasiders' stuttering form. In Saturday's case, it was a woeful first half performance.

The Seasiders found themselves 2-0 down at the break, and not even the fact that they rescued a point in the second half could hide the disappointment that the opening of the South had not been christened with a win - just read Ian Holloway's post-match comments for proof.

Speaking of Holloway, he made several changes to the side that went down 3-0 to Sheffield United in midweek.

Iann Evatt returned at centre half for the unfortunate Rob Edwards, whilst new loan signing Seamus Coleman came straight into the team for the injured Neal Eardley.

In midfield, Stephen Husband came in for David Vaughan who had picked up a knock on Tuesday night, whilst Billy Clarke and Barry Bannan returned to the side on the flanks. Stephen Dobbie got the nod upfront with DJ Campbell out through injury.

An impressive looking team on paper you have to say, but the Seasiders were far from impressive in the opening forty-five minutes.

After just three minutes the visitors were ahead. 'Pool failed to deal with a Palace throw and the ball bobbled around the penalty area before eventually falling to Nick Carle who bundled home.

Carle would have added a second just minutes later had it not been for a last-gasp challenge by Ian Evatt.

The visitors did double their lead just after the half hour mark however when Darren Ambrose fired past Matt Gilks.

With the Seasiders all at sea, manager Ian Holloway decided to shake things up and withdrew Stephen Husband after only thirty five minutes, bringing Ben Burgess on in his place.

Half time: Blackpool 0-2 Crystal Palace.

After just two minutes of the second half Blackpool showed what they can do by halving the deficit.

Billy Clarke beat Palace stopper Julian Speroni to the ball before Stephen Dobbie squared to Charlie Adam who fired home from the edge of the area.

It should have been 2-2 just moments later, but Ben Burgess missed an absolutely sitter.

Brett Ormerod then replaced Billy Clarke as the Seasiders looked to make their control of the second half count.

Ian Evatt nearly did just that with an effort from outside the area that forced Julian Speroni into a fine save.

With fifteen minutes to go, Gary Taylor-Fletcher made his return to action, replacing Barry Bannan.

With a minute to go, the Seasiders had their equaliser - Ben Burgess prodding home at the second attempt, after fluffing his first shot.

And the Seasiders nearly stole all three points at the death, by Speroni made fine saves from Taylor-Fletcher, Ormerod and Dobbie to secure Paul Hart's relegation battlers a point.

Click here to join in the debate on the club forum.

The journalist

Writer: Eamonn Moore  Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Monday March 22 2010

Time: 7:03AM


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