Elliot Grandin came to Blackpool’s rescue for the second time in a week, as his 72nd minute goal secured a point for the Tangerines against Brighton.
After coming off the bench to turn around Tuesday night’s game with Nottingham Forest, the Frenchman was restored to the starting line-up for the first time this season by Ian Holloway. Grandin rewarded his manager’s faith by netting the equiliser after Ashley Barnes had opened the scoring for the visitors.
The Seasiders put to bed a couple of uncharacteristically quiet displays in front of goal with that 2-2 draw with Forest and started this game in a similar vein, creating a host of early chances.
Gary Taylor-Fletcher flicked the ball down the wing to Tom Ince, who cut inside his man and tried to bend a shot around Brighton ‘keeper Tomasz Kuszcak. It appeared a routine stop for the former Manchester United man, but he looked to have dropped the ball into the path of Matt Phillips before it was cleared by a defender.
Blackpool came even closer from the resulting corner. Taylor-Fletcher met Grandin’s cross, but he failed to steer the ball on target.
Grandin had a hand in both goals in mid-week, and the midfielder was pulling the strings again in the early stages of this game. His cushioned header from a cross-field Stephen Crainey ball found Isaiah Osbourne just outside the six-yard box, but the 24-year-old couldn’t make a proper connection and fired over.
The game was barely out of the first ten minutes, but the chances continued to rack up for the home side. Osbourne again got on the end of a ball from Grandin, but this time he saw his shot blocked. Then an overlapping run from Kirk Broadfoot gave him the chance to fire a ball across the six-yard box which was nearly turned in by Alex Baptiste.
Efforts from Phillips and Ince followed, before Taylor-Fletcher had arguably the best chance of the game so far in the 35th minute. A clever reverse pass down the right hand side from Ince put the 31-year-old in behind the Brighton back-line, but his attempt to lift the ball over Kuszcak sailed over the bar.
Having been unable to convert from six yards earlier in the game, Baptiste then tried his luck from 30. His well struck long range shot forced a sprawling dive out of Kuszcak, but in the end it wound up landing safely in the stand.
HALF TIME: BLACKPOOL 0 BRIGHTON 0
Ian Holloway’s side started the second half where they left off in the first, controlling much of the possession but struggling to seriously test the Brighton goal. That looked like it could prove costly in the 56th minute when
Brighton took the lead in bizarre circumstances. Confusion between Ian Evatt and Matt Gilks in the penalty area allowed Craig Mackail-Smith to prod the ball into the path of a grateful Barnes, who couldn’t miss.
BLACKPOOL 0 BRIGHTON 1
Shocked with the ease at which they’d given away the opening goal, The Seasiders looked to respond quickly. Phillips raced down the left and cut the ball back into the path of Grandin, whose blocked shot found its way to Ince. The England U21 international couldn’t adjust his feet quickly enough however, and could only scoop his shot over the bar from close range.
Blackpool had come from behind to lead against Forest, and were hoping to do likewise here. They set about doing so with an almost identical goal to the one that put them back on level terms in mid-week. Phillips, moved to right-back due to the introduction of Nathan Delfouneso, swung in a cross from deep which was again met perfectly by the head of Grandin.
BLACKPOOL 1 BRIGHTON 1
The home side were now in hot pursuit of a second, and almost immediately created three chances. After Grandin had forced the best out of Kuszcak with a long range effort, Evatt nodded a free header over the bar from a corner and Delfouneso tamely side footed a shot that was easily saved by the Polish stopper.
Brighton were not without their own threat going forwards however, as they nearly took the lead through Mackail-Smith. Will Buckley crossed a ball over to the far post, where it was met acrobatically by the former Peterborough striker. His bicycle-kick forced Gilks into a fine save, who showed sharp reflexes to turn the ball over the bar.
A well worked corner from Blackpool then allowed Angel to get a shot away from the edge of the area, but Kuszcak got down quickly to save. Pool continued to press for the remainder of the game, but in the end had to settle for a point.
FULL TIME: BLACKPOOL 1 BRIGHTON 1