Blackpool gave themselves a fighting chance of avoiding the drop after coming out of an action-packed clash with Crewe Alexandra with three massive points. In a match which contained everything, a true mix of emotions, Tom Aldred fired the crucial winner seven minutes from time to haul The Seasiders out of the relegation zone.
Jack Redshaw had got the ball rolling with a close-range header, before being controversially sent off for two soft yellow cards before the break. Crewe pressed in the second-half and finally found an equaliser late on when Marcus Haber flicked home at the near post.
It was to be Blackpool’s day however and lady luck arrived just in time, as Aldred’s effort deflected home. There was more to come however, as Brad Inman blew a golden chance to equalise by blazing over an injury time penalty as Pool were rewarded for their resilience.
Having struggled to create clear-cut chances in recent weeks, Blackpool carved out two good openings in the first two minutes at Gresty Road. First Brad Potts hooked Jim McAlister’s corner over, before Ben Garratt saved Danny Philliskirk’s effort at the second attempt.
A cross-shot from McAlister was then dealt with by Garratt, but represented further Pool’s positive start to proceedings. Crewe’s first sight of goal came through Charlie Kirk, but his effort flew wide of Colin Doyle’s goal.
It took 11 minutes for Hayden White to put the afterburners on and his cross should have brought about a better header from David Norris. The chances kept coming, next Redshaw’s effort wasn’t dealt with by Garratt and Zoumana Bakayogo had to clear with Philliskirk sniffing.
At the other end Inman exploited a lapse in concentration in Blackpool’s defence, but Doyle bailed them out with a vital save, before Norris blazed over on the break. The midfielder then had the ball in the back of the net but his header was ruled out for offside.
However, they wouldn’t be denied on 33 minutes as Blackpool finally made the breakthrough. Terrific work from Mark Cullen saw the striker find Philliskirk, his cross was headed onto the bar by McAlister and Redshaw was on hand to nod home the rebound.
However, the striker, who was booked for over exuberant celebrations, was to watch his afternoon turn sour moments later. Redshaw, in attempt to go for the ball, caught David Fox with a high boot and was shown a harsh second yellow card.
From there it was about seeing it out until half-time for The Seasiders, which they did comfortably and even had a number of set pieces to add to their lead, but ultimately they remained one goal ahead.
Half Time: Crewe 0 Blackpool 1
After the break Blackpool were looking a threat on the break, but were thankful to watch Bakayogo’s header come crashing back off the crossbar. Inevitably when a man up, Crewe were getting chances and Doyle did well to smother at the feet of James Jones.
Bakayogo had another header saved by Doyle soon after before Philliskirk watched his diving header fly wide of the mark. The importance of a second goal was clear to see, even more to when Bakayogo’s shot clipped the outside of the post.
Remarkably, with 17 minutes remaining there was still just the one goal on the board, and it was almost 2-0 Blackpool when Potts drove forward, took on his man and blasted against the outside of the post.
Fresh off the bench, Callum Ainley rolled the next half-chance narrowly wide of Doyle’s goal, as the pressure continued to mount. Neil McDonald then made his first substitution, with Emmerson Boyce replacing Cullen and Philliskirk moving up front.
After the change of position the striker had three decent opening to kill the game off, the last of which saw him slice wide after good work from Luke Higham down the left.
However, Crewe dragged themselves level momentarily when Haber flicked home at the near post, but their celebrations proved premature. Aldred’s eyes lit up when the ball dropped to him in the Alex box and the defender’s powerful effort deflected over Garratt.
There was to be one final dramatic moment, as Boyce went clattering into the back of Tom Hitchcock and the referee pointed to the penalty spot. Inman stepped up and blazed his kick high into the stand.
With minutes remaining Ikpeazu replaced Philliskirk to see the game out and after White cleared a header from Haber off the line the three massive points were Blackpool’s.
Full-Time: Crewe 1 Blackpool 2