Report: Blackpool 0 Sheff Weds 0
Blackpool took another step towards securing their Championship status with a hard fought 0-0 draw against Sheffield Wednesday at Bloomfield Road.
Paul Ince named an unchanged squad from the one which toppled Lancashire rivals Burnley on Saturday, with the hope they could pick up where they left off against the Clarets.
Instead it was an uncharacteristically shaky start from the Tangerines' back-line, as Wednesday started on the front foot.
Consecutive shots from the pacey Jermaine Johnson forced Matt Gilks into early action, with Pool stopper coming out on top on both occasions.
From then on the Owls proceeded to dominate the initial exchanges and almost took the lead once more when Giles Coke let lose a powerful 25-yard effort, skimming the upright.
Belatedly, Pool’s first attempt at goal was 16 minutes in the making. But Matt Phillips’ tame long-range effort, following some much-needed creativity from Tom Ince, was always rising and ended up in the stand.
With the help of Barry Ferguson’s experience in midfield, The Seasiders worked their way into the game and began to enjoy their fair share of possession.
An increased retention of the ball was beginning to pay dividends, and had Tom Ince made the most of a one-on-one showdown with Chris Kirkland, the home side might have gone into the break a goal to the good.
The Owls were beginning to show some cracks and Wednesday’s players looked increasingly frustrated. Their mood eventually boiled over when Jermaine Johnson was booked for dissent by referee Kevin Wright.
Then, a mistake in Blackpool’s backline almost let the away side in on goal, as Stephen Crainey’s clearance hit Ludovic Sylvestre and trickled into the path of Giles Coke.
However, the 26-year-old, who spent time as a team-mate of Seasiders’ captain Alex Baptiste at Mansfield Town, put too much fizz on his shot-come-cross and the ball sailed over Gilks’ crossbar.
Both sides found it difficult to break down their opponents, and they went in at half-time level.
HALF-TIME: BLACKPOOL 0-0 SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY
Pool started the second half sharply, with Phillips and Ince leading the attacking line of play.
The Scotland international was unlucky to have seen his low, left-footed effort blocked by a Wednesday defender after Kirk Broadfoot's header from a corner had crashed against the crossbar.
The Seasiders continued to apply constant pressure on the Owl’s back four, often forcing them into mistimed errors.
It was Blackpool’s MacKenzie who made the next crucial mistake though, as he brought down Miguel Llera on the edge of the penalty area to give the visitors a dangerous free-kick.
Stuart Holden stepped up but couldn’t direct his strike goal wards, curling his effort high over the crossbar.
There was drama minutes later, when Owls’ forward Jermaine Johnson was pulled up for a foul on Sylvestre.
The 32-year-old Jamaican was given a talking-to by the referee before seemingly signalling to the Wednesday bench that he wanted to be substituted.
He got his wish, much to the delight of a slightly bemused Bloomfield Road, and was replaced by Chris Maguire up-front.
It was a scrappy next few minutes, without much to discuss, until Sylvestre and Phillips combined to create an unexpected opening in the Wednesday defence.
The former Wycombe winger shimmied the ball onto his right foot, beyond the reach of Danny Pugh, and fired a blistering pass across the face of goal.
Nether Nathan Delfounso, nor Ince could meet the cross though, and the ball rolled out for a goal kick to the visitors.
That was to be Phillips’ last contribution to the game, as he was replaced by Gary-Taylor Fletcher who received a warm round-of-applause as he entered the fray, after 75 minutes.
Following the substitution, Blackpool went close to an opener. Tom Ince slalomed his way past countless Wednesday defenders, drawing Pugh out of position and leaving Alex Baptiste with a free run on goal.
The 21-year-old winger played a clever ball into his captain who’s snap-shot moved wildly in the air before flying over Kirkland’s up-right.
Ince then earned his side a dangerous looking free-kick down the left channel, under the challenge of an Owls defender.
Substitute Elliot Grandin stepped up but fired his shot straight at the former England number one in the Wednesday goal.
Despite a promising-looking chance for Delfouneso and a powerful effort from Owls forward Maguire which stung Gilks’ palms, the game finished nil-nil and Blackpool were forced to settle for just a point.
FULL TIME: BLACKPOOL 0-0 SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY