Pool replay against stubborn Wednesday
28th January 2012 - 15:00
Another late show saw Blackpool maintain their unbeaten record in 2012 as they came from behind to draw with Sheffield Wednesday.
A 90th minute Kevin Phillips penalty levelled the scores after Clinton Morrison had put the lower league visitors ahead earlier in the second half.
The draw means the Seasiders are in the hat for the fifth round of the FA Cup for the first time since 2007 - when they were deprived a trip to Chelsea by Norwich City. The replay will be played at Hillsborough a week on Tuesday.
Ian Holloway made a plethora of changes, eight to be precise, to the side that beat Crystal Palace last time out, with starts for the likes of Neal Eardley, Billy Clarke, Danny Wilson, Bob Harris and Angel Martinez. But even though his second eleven bossed the proceedings, clear cut chances were at a premium.
The return of Keith Southern brought energy and enthusiasm into a midfield trio unfamiliar to each other. The midfielder's comeback from testicular cancer was met with rousing applause and a few tears from the home support.
It was the captain himself who might have given Pool the lead. Eardley careered down the right flank before his wicked cross was met perfectly by Southern, showing more desire than his marker, but his header was well saved by Stephen Bywater.
Wednesday, though, could have also found themselves leading. Southern was guilty of playing a ball back to Matt Gilks completely blind and failed to notice former Bury man Ryan Lowe lurking between defenders and goalkeeper but the striker's attempted dink was well thwarted.
Bywater's afternoon was to get better later in the half as he produced a stunning save just before the break. Billy Clarke was found at the back post six yards and he sent an effort seemingly destined to take the lead, but the winger caught the ball too well and the goalkeeper's reaction was to fling his right hand at it and divert it wide.
After half time, Clarke did nothing to endear himself to the home crowd - who weren't pleased with his overall contribution throughout - as he was at fault for the opening goal. His lapse in concentration in possession allowed David Prutton to find Lowe in the box. The striker was again stopped in his tracks by Gilks, who palmed away the danger, only to find that Morrison had the presence of mind to bend a shot from the touchline past two home defenders and into the net. Craig Cathcart on the goal line might have done better.
That served as a wake-up call. Southern, who was off injured during the goal, was replaced by Gary Taylor-Fletcher which reignited the Tangerines.
The Yorkshiremen were being forced back and defending deeply but the Championship playoff hopefuls were finding it difficult to break them down. However, Taylor-Fletcher, who has been the target of the Blackpool boo boys recently, showed guile and intelligence to give Pool a foothold in the match. He linked the midfield and front three and brought more cohesion when going forward but it looked as if time was running out to force a replay.
Tom Ince and new signing Nouha Dicko were thrown on, the latter happy to throw himself to the ground far too easily, and Pool had a stonewall penalty turned down by referee Deadman.
It looked likely to be Gary Megson's day, especially as the home attackers were happy to aimlessly cross balls into the away box and noticeably down the 6ft 5in central defender Rob Jones' throat.
But as they looked like they were staring a cup exit in the face, Deadman atoned for his earlier error when he pointed to the spot after Taylor-Fletcher had been wrestled to the ground. Phillips, who struggled to make an impact all day, stepped up and lashed home the penalty to set up a replay neither side will fancy.