Blackpool 2 - 2 Birmingham City
November 26, 2011, 15:00
Stephen Crainey scored his first goal in four years as Blackpool drew 2-2 with Birmingham City.
The left back finished off a brilliant flowing move to level the scores two minutes after Marlon King had given the visitors the lead.
Fellow full back Neal Eardley gave the Seasiders the lead after the break with a stunning effort before substitute Nikola Zigic equalised in the last five minutes for City.
Ian Holloway had selection problems going into the game with first team regulars Craig Cathcart, Keith Southern and Kevin Phillips all missing. Matt Phillips and Lomana Lua Lua were given starts.
After an even opening to the game it was Birmingham who took the lead just before the half-hour mark. Ian Evatt had been struggling with a direct through ball which had caught him out several times and fell foul to it again as Marlon King raced onto a Wade Elliot pass and score.
However, the lead last just two minutes. On 31, a superb team move culminated in Stephen Crainey being slipped in behind the City back four and the Scottish international guide the ball home with the outside of his boot. He hadn't scored since a deflected freekick against Sheffield United in 2007 and it was his first professional goal from open play.
After the break, Matt Phillips had a glorious chance to put Pool ahead after another cracking passing move. He was found unmarked just a matter of yards out but after the ball took a slightly bobble he skewed wide when it was easier to score and his wait for a goal continues.
But as Ollie's brand of passing football came up against a well-organised counter-attacking opposition, it looked like the former would shine through as Pool edged ahead on 57 minutes.
With another attack seemingly on the verge of breaking down as Pool laboured, Neal Eardley latched onto a headed clearance 25 yards from goal and found the top left-hand corner of Boaz Myhill's net from the right hand side of the box with a wicked dipping and curling effort. The strike managed to travel some distance and Eardley will have been delighted to make such an impact - given his under-par performance before that.
The substitutions aimed at closing out the game ensued but as Angel, Tom Ince and Callum McManaman were introduced, so was beanpole Nikola Zigic. Chris Hughton's side actually brought on Chris Wood as well in a quest for goals, but it was Zigic who would prove the difference in the last few minutes.
The Serbian, known for his aerial prowess, missed a bigger sitter than Phillips' chance. Five yards out and unmarked, Zigic somehow headed a cross wide when it was easier to score at the back post.
And as the home crowd howled at his misfortune, the striker replied straight away - although there was huge offside suspicion.
Zigic was found goal side of Alex Baptiste and he cooly slotted past Matt Gilks to give the Blues a valuable point. However, with Baptiste last man, the attacker looked to have been stood in an offside position.