Date:Sunday March 20 2011
19th March 2011 - 15:00
A defiant Blackburn Rovers second half performance saw two points dropped for Blackpool as a Junior Hoilett equaliser deep into stoppage time spared Steve Kean's blushes.
The Seasiders got themselves two up at half time thanks to a brace from Charlie Adam. But a back to basics long ball second period from the home side got them a crucial point.
Ian Holloway's side looked the most fluid they've been in weeks - hardly surprising with the return of the skipper - and controlled proceedings for the majority of the first half. Pool did have to withstand a touch of early pressure but managed to get the two wide players Luke Varney and Jason Puncheon into the game in order to retain possession for longer spells.
It was Puncheon who was an integral part of the first goal. His incisive driving run from the middle of the park saw the Rovers defence part ways and a clever ball through to Gary Taylor-Fletcher meant the striker could get a shot away. His effort ballooned over the bar but referee Howard Webb bizarrely judged that Ryan Nelson had fouled GTF in the process and pointed to the spot, much to the amazement of everyone inside Ewood Park.
Charlie Adam stepped up and sent Paul Robinson the wrong way with ease to make it 1-0.
Minutes before that the Seasiders had a goal disallowed for a borderline offside which probably was the correct decision. Luke Varney bundled in from a set piece but was adjudged to have been half a yard offside by the assistant who only flagged for the infringement as the Blackpool players were jogging back for the restart.
The strange decisions continued, with Webb being equally poor for both sides constantly, especially niggling fouls going the wrong way.
His ineptitude didn't see the game falter as a spectacle though. On 29 minutes (four minutes after they'd taken the lead) Pool went two up through that man Adam again. There was a spell of pressure with two corners and as we said in the week the role of winning the second ball against Blackburn is key; Adam was needlessly poleaxed 20 yards from goal and he dusted himself down to bend a wicked free kick right into Robinson's top right hand corner which left the keeper stationary.
Pool were rampant and had another goal (correctly) disallowed for offside as Luke Varney followed up a Puncheon hit and that was that for the first half with Rovers roundly booed off by three sides of Ewood Park.
Unfortunately for Blackpool, their poor concentration cost them dear after the break and let the home side back in. Five minutes into the half Varney criminally gave the ball away in his final third which led to a cross not being dealt with properly by Richard Kingson - who did look to be fouled - and from the penalty box pinball that ensued, Chris Samba stroked home the goal which sparked a comeback.
From then on it was a constant onslaught on the tangerine goal but Craig Cathcart and Ian Evatt were dealing with every long ball which was hoofed into the box, with David Vaughan excellently picking up the scraps and distributing the ball well.
Pool looked dangerous on the break with Elliot Grandin and Puncheon testing the Rovers goal on more than a couple of occasions but it was brief respite from the bustle of the home attacks.
Webb became centre stage in the final minute of injury time when Blackburn eventually got back on level terms. Matt Phillips and Gary Taylor-Fletcher were running the clock down well in the corner and looked to have won a Blackpool corner to see the game out but both linesman and referee failed to spot it and gave a goal kick. From that goal kick - where Pool could also have won a foul - Webb gave a foul to Rovers which was dubious at best. Robinson launched it into the away box and Kingson got caught underneath it (which, given the nature of the game, is perhaps to be expected) and failed to get enough purchase on his punch, leaving Junior Hoilett (who was superb all game) the task of guiding a header home past Ian Evatt on the line.
Despair for Blackpool but at the end of the day the aim was not to lose to another relegation rival which still keeps both teams embroiled in the battle. A win at Fulham could drag yet more teams into this exciting end to the season…
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Date:Sunday March 20 2011
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