Charlotte Gill’s second-half goal earned Blackpool FC Ladies a hard-fought point at high-flying Crewe Alexandra Ladies.
Katie Connell put the home side ahead on 27 minutes before Gill pounced on a fumble by Crewe goalkeeper Ellie Fox to level the match.
Both sides had chances to win it, but a point apiece was a fair reflection of an entertaining encounter played on a difficult muddy pitch.
It took just 12 seconds for Blackpool to register their first chance of the afternoon, Sian Dillon creating an opening for Lauren Oatley whose low deflected shot was comfortably held by Fox.
On 14 minutes, Blackpool had a clear sight of goal. Gaby May, who had been handed the captain’s armband in place of the injured Charlotte Banner, drove forward from deep, surged past two defenders and slipped a precise pass in behind the Crewe defence to Gill. One-on-one with the goalkeeper, Gill could not hit the target as she dragged an effort wide of the far post.
Pool continued to look the more dangerous of the two sides, and Dillon came desperately close to putting the team ahead when her low, left-footed shot from outside the box was pushed onto the post by Fox.
As the half progressed, Crewe, who defeated The Tangerines 1-0 in a League Cup tie at the start of March, managed to get a foothold on the match. Michelle Saunders gave Blackpool a warning when she turned away from Sara Noori and flashed a fierce drive wide of visiting stopper Amy Roskell’s near post.
And just before the half-hour mark, the home side went in front. Pacey winger Megan Booth glided menacingly down the right and whipped in a cross which was missed by Roskell and calmly converted by Connell at the far post.
Blackpool responded positively and Noori was not far away from finding an equaliser when her floated 25-yard free-kick drifted just wide.
It was Crewe, though, who ended the first-half on the front foot. Booth’s driven shot from a tight angle was held by Roskell and Connell lifted an audacious lobbed effort over the bar.
Leanne Derry’s excellent free-kick attempt curled marginally over, and it was so nearly 2-0 to Crewe when Beth Ragdale bulleted a diving header a fraction wide from Derry’s in-swinging corner.
Blackpool started the second-half in a purposeful manner as Dillon raced forward through the centre and stung the palms of Fox from long-range.
On 51 minutes, they were level. Sam Ball’s 30-yard free-kick was directly at Fox but the Crewe stopper allowed the ball to slip from her grasp, enabling Gill to tap-in from six-yards.
Roskell was called into action moments later as she got down well to keep out Booth’s angled drive, while Gill and Lauren Ward each tested Fox at the other end.
Crewe twice went close to re-establishing their lead midway through the half. First, Derry’s corner was flicked over by Ragdale before O’Reilly’s right-footed shot from distance looped up and clipped the top of the crossbar.
With ten minutes remaining, Blackpool fashioned a good opportunity of their own, as Davies arrowed wide from just inside the penalty area after some patient build-up play.
Crewe pushed forward for a winner in the closing stages. Roskell made a super stop to push away O’Reilly’s powerful half-volley, and from the subsequent corner, Ragdale, who was a real threat all afternoon from set pieces, hooked goalwards but the Blackpool keeper was well positioned to gather.
But Crewe really should have stolen the points with virtually the last action of the match. May’s hurried clearance landed with O’Reilly, whose drilled cross-cum-shot skidded towards Vikki Owen, sliding in unmarked, but somehow she failed to convert.
Blackpool were left relieved, although defeat would have been a cruel blow.