Report: Blackpool 2 Watford 2
Isaiah Osbourne marked his return from injury with a first goal in Tangerine, as Blackpool fought back from two goals down to draw 2-2 with Watford.
Goals from Ikechi Anya and Troy Deeney put Gianfranco Zola’s side into a two goal lead, before a Kevin Phillips goal early in the second half gave Pool the chance of a comeback.
Tiago Gomes, Thomas Ince and new signing Wes Thomas all went close, but in the end it was Osbourne who struck a third late equiliser in three games for new manager Michael Appleton.
The visitors took the lead inside the opening five minutes. A lovely cross field ball from Christian Battochio found Matej Vydra in space down the left flank. The Czech forward could’ve looked to shoot, but he instead unselfishly played in Anya, who finished neatly past Matt Gilks.
BLACKPOOL 0 WATFORD 1
Watford were causing all kinds of problems going forward, and could’ve made it two-nil moments later when Deeney played in Vydra beyond the Blackpool back-line. Again the Udinese loanee looked to play in a teammate, but this time his square ball was cut out by Alex Baptiste.
Michael Appleton’s side looked to respond, and forced their first effort on goal in the seventh minute. Good work from Nathan Delfouneso led to him teeing up Ludovic Sylvestre inside the penalty area, but the midfielder couldn’t generate the power or placement required to test Manuel Almunia.
The visitors did add to their lead though, in the 21st minute. A freekick from Mark Yeates was floated into the box, Blackpool couldn’t clear and the ball eventually found its way to Deeney, who fired it into the roof of the net from close range.
BLACKPOOL 0 WATFORD 2
The Seasiders looked in need of some inspiration, but nearly found a way back into the game in the most bizarre of circumstances. Almunia’s attempt at a chipped pass instead found the head of Kevin Phillips, but the striker couldn’t steer his effort into the empty goal.
Blackpool then opted to make their first change of the afternoon in the 28th minute, with Tiago Gomes coming on in place of Elliot Grandin.
If the home side were to pull a goal back, it looked as though it would come from the left hand side, with both Stephen Crainey and Delfouneso looking to get in behind wing-back Anya. Sylvestre found Crainey with space to cross, but his tempting ball in flashed across the Watford penalty area and away to safety.
The Scottish full-back did find a Blackpool attacked with his next cross, a floated in from deep, but Phillips failed to make a proper connection with his header.
Thomas Ince then forced a first real save out of Almunia on the stroke of half-time. The England Under-21 international looked to force the ball beyond the Spanish stopper from an acute angle down the right, but the former Arsenal man reacted well to make a low save.
HALF TIME: BLACKPOOL 0 WATFORD 2
Blackpool made their second change at half-time with Osbourne, making his return from injury, coming on for Sylvestre.
A positive start to the second period for The Seasiders was then rewarded with a goal in the 52nd minute. Kirk Broadfoot’s powerful cross cannoned off a couple of Watford defenders and found its way into the path of Chris Basham. The midfielder took a touch before pulling the ball back across goal, where Phillips was waiting to turn the ball home from point-blank range.
BLACKPOOL 1 WATFORD 2
Appleton’s changes in midfield were starting to pay dividends, with the Tangerines beginning to control much of the play. Osbourne found Gomes in space outside the area, but the Portuguese playmaker couldn’t find the target with his shot.
The Blackpool boss then made his third and final change as debutant Wes Thomas was introduced for the goalscorer Phillips.
A quick break from the home side again found Gomes with space to try his luck from distance. This time the midfielder did find the target, only to be denied by a fine one-handed stop from Almunia.
Ince then went even closer. A moment of inspiration from the winger saw him cut inside from the right, and look to bend a shot into the top left hand corner of the goal. The Watford ‘keeper was stranded, but on this occasion his post came to the rescue, as Ince’s shot cannoned off the upright.
Substitute Thomas then had the chance to make himself an instant hero, when he got his head to another ball in from Crainey. It looked as though his effort was going to creep in, before Almunia got down to claw it around the post for a corner.
Blackpool were not to be denied however. Well into injury time, Ince slalomed across the edge of the Watford penalty area, and his slightly heavy touch provided the perfect lay-off for Osbourne, who smashed home a side footed shot from 20-yards.
BLACKPOOL 2 WATFORD 2
FULL TIME: BLACKPOOL 2 WATFORD 2