Phillips strikes after Southern red card
April 9, 2012; 15:00
While Matt Phillips' equaliser for 10-man Blackpool, at home against a dogged Barnsley, won't be the goal that rubber-stamps a playoff berth, it is looking increasingly likely that the Seasiders will be in that top six at the end of the season.
Phillips popped up in the second half to level the scores after David Perkins had given Keith Hill's side the lead just after the break. Keith Southern had been sent off early in the piece and it is testament to Ian Holloway's team that they always looked the more likely to win the game.
The point means that the gap between themselves and Brighton in seventh place is now four points, with the Seagulls hosting Reading tomorrow evening, but with other results going their way, Pool fans are already weighing up the prospect of who they may face in the May lottery.
It might have been a much different mood tonight had it not been for the excellent response to going a man down. Faced with a loose ball, thanks to sloppy play by Alex Baptiste, Southern lunged desperately to try and nick it away from Stephen Foster but left the ground with two feet and paid the ultimate price with referee Andy D'Urso not making any exceptions in the slippery conditions.
From then on, while they struggled for a consistent rhythm to their play, the home side battled admirably in the quest for an upset of sorts, but were found to be carrying Lomana Lua Lua, who had his worst game in tangerine. The striker constantly gave possession away and proved a liability going forward, stunting the exciting play of Phillips and his partner in crime Tom Ince; the latter enjoying one of his best games since joining the club.
Not until the 55th minute, when Lua Lua was hauled off, did Blackpool really begin to play. But they were already one goal down. Straight after the restart, Reuben Noble-Lazarus managed to get in behind Neal Eardley for the first time and via a blocked shot, found Perkins who didn't know a lot about it as the ball hit him and evaded Matt Gilks.
Although a setback, Blackpool were always in control of their own destiny against a Tykes outfit seemingly happy to waste time and soak up pressure. To provide wonderful symmetry, they were back in the game the first time a tangerine had got behind the away right back.
It was Bob Harris who, fairly inexplicably from a Barnsley point of view, found himself as a spare man on the left hand side before sliding in a beautifully weighted cross for the onrushing Phillips to meet and stab home.
The impetus was with Pool, but that was lost when Holloway replaced the superb Angel Martinez. Although his replacement, Nouha Dicko, did very little wrong, the balance of the team was lost somewhat, with the match ending with very little shape. That was unfortunate, given the visitors were on the ropes, but take nothing away from what was a well-manufactured point against disappointingly dour opposition. With results going the way they did around the other grounds this afternoon, it is a point to savour. Not one that means a playoff place is concrete, but the cement is certainly ready to mix.