Report: Blackpool 1 Crystal Palace 0
Paul Ince picked up his first win at home as Blackpool manager, as his ten-man Tangerines defeated Ian Holloway’s Crystal Palace 1-0.
Matthew Phillips got the only goal of the game, with a stunning strike five minutes from time rounding off an excellent performance from the 22-year-old wide-man.
The game was always likely to be a memorable one, due to the return of former Pool boss Holloway, who was making his return to Bloomfield Road for the first time since leaving for Palace in November.
The Seasiders weren’t about to do their old boss any favours though, and threatened the visitors’ goal early in an attempt to put the Eagles on the back foot.
The hosts almost went ahead in the ninth minute when Nathan Delfouneso found himself through with just the Palace ‘keeper to beat.
The England Under-21 international shifted the ball onto his left foot, despite pressure from chasing Eagles defenders, and fired a low shot towards Julian Speroni.
The Palace shot-stopper was equal to the effort though, and palmed the strike out of harms way.
The attacking prowess of the away side had been highlighted by Pool captain Alex Baptiste in his programme notes, and his prediction of a tough afternoon for the Seasiders’ defence was proven right.
Wilfred Zaha and Glenn Murray had 36 goals between them leading into the game and began their weekly assault on the opposing ‘keeper within 20 minutes.
The soon-to-be Manchester United winger picked up the ball on the right wing before wriggling free of Stephen Crainey and unleashing a vicious shot which stung the palms of Matt Gilks.
Blackpool responded well though and a good passage of possession saw them take hold of the game, led from the front by Phillips.
The Scotland international carved out three chances in succession but neither Tom Ince nor Nathan Delfouneso could find the net.
Paul Ince’s side were unfortunate not to have gone ahead again just minutes later when Delfouneso threatened once more, turning and shooting in one swift movement to produce a diving save from the Palace ‘keeper.
Their misfortune continued when Barry Ferguson was told to take an early bath by referee Andy Haines, for a second bookable offence just before half-time.
The veteran midfielder looked to have blocked Yannick Bolasie after a winding run from the 23-year old had split the Seasiders’ defence.
HALF TIME: BLACKPOOL 0-0 CRYSTAL PALACE
The away side were determined to make their one-man advantage count, starting the second half brightly and almost taking the lead after just three minutes.
Yannick Bolasie used his lightening pace down the right wing to gallop towards the ‘Pool box and square for an unmarked Stephen Dobbie.
The former Seasider fluffed his lines though and couldn’t set his feet up for the shot, giving the Blackpool defence time to recover.
The home side were penned into their own half as Palace continued to tease the edge of the ‘Pool area, giving the hosts little time on the ball when they finally did clear.
Delfouneso seemed isolated in attack meaning that any out-ball was wasted through lack of support, allowing the Eagles to retrieve possession and build continuous waves of attack.
No sooner had Ince re-entered the field of play when Wilfred Zaha crossed the ball dangerously into the path of Glenn Murray.
The Championship’s top scorer couldn’t quite guide his effort goalwards, meaning his hunt for thirty league goals and Palace’s search for the game’s opener continued.
It was Blackpool though, against the run of play, who got the all-important breakthrough as Matthew Phillips finally got his reward for an excellent all-round performance, just five minutes from time.
Tom Ince brought down the ball sublimely in midfield and embarked on a slaloming run down the right. The 21-year-old cut inside before squaring to his counterpart who placed his curling effort perfectly into the corner of Speroni’s net.
BLACKPOOL 1-0 CRYSTAL PALACE
Isaiah Osbourne entered the frame following the goal in an effort to calm the Blackpool ranks and see out the game.
The substitution paid off as the Seasiders defended tirelessly to ensure Palace and former manager Holloway went home empty handed.
Meanwhile ‘Pool moved clear of the relegation pack thanks to an invaluable three points.
FULL TIME: BLACKPOOL 1-0 CRYSTAL