A late equaliser saw Blackpool hold Nottingham Forest to a 1-1 draw, meaning the unbeaten run continues but the Reds were unable to jump above Derby in the table. Michael Shaw offers a fan’s eye view from Bloomfield Road…
Blackpool in early February is probably not the rational choice when it comes to whiling away a Saturday afternoon, its faded shopfronts reflecting the recent fortunes of the Tangerines. The fans must feel those heady Premier League days, and shock wins over Liverpool and Spurs, are as distant as the illuminations for which the seaside resort is most famous.
The lights have long since departed, as have Blackpool’s hopes of a Premier League return — without a league win since late November and, on a run of two points from a possible 36 — the travelling Reds faithful arrived by their thousands in buoyant mood. Even a teamsheet containing ghosts of play-offs past, most notably Stephen Dobbie, could do little to dispel the optimism.
Forest were first to settle, Greg Halford headed Andy Reid’s free-kick against the post, although the linesman’s flag may well have denied him had the woodwork not intervened. Then Reid flashed a shot over the crossbar before the wind and rain set in and Blackpool doggedly dragged Billy’s boys down to their level.
Faris Haroun, orange boots and bleach blond mohawk sticking out like a sore thumb amidst the gloomy surroundings, forced Karl Darlow into a decent low save but as the half wore on it became clear it was a contest high on effort but low on quality.
Typically, when quality was provided it was from the boot of Reid, once a Seasider himself. He was half-heartedly booed throughout by a home support seemingly downtrodded by a combination of the weather, the rain was coming in sideways most of the match, and having Paul Ince recently in charge. The Irishman floated over a beautiful free-kick and Jamaal Lascelles, outstanding again in defence, arrived to slide home from eight yards for his first league goal on the stroke of half-time.
The second-half started in a hurry, like a child who knew their time at the beach was growing short. Darlow was relieved to see Dobbie’s drive squirm wide of the post via a deflection before Jamie Mackie almost broke away, only for Kirk Broadfoot’s last ditch lunge to poke the ball to safety. You sensed a second goal was a must, Simon Cox was a whisker from making contact six yards from goal to wrap things up. “If Moussi scores, we’re in the sea,” sang the Forest faithful, but in truth a goal from anyone would’ve been enough to tempt one into the icy waters.
But as at Preston on Wednesday night, the Reds retreated further and further as the minutes wore on. Andy Keogh rose unmarked but glanced his header wide of Darlow’s far post with the goalkeeper grasping at air; Lascelles put his body on the line again with a fine block. What a talent that young man is. Then, almost as inevitably as the tide lapping at the sand, the Reds defence was finally eroded. Jack Robinson crossed deep into the penalty area and, from behind a well-placed pillar that had obstructed my view throughout, Keogh nodded the home side level.
Another draw then, our eighth on the road this season but, most frustratingly, the fifth time that we have led and been pegged back. The sodden Red Army will dry themselves off and head for Huddersfield on Tuesday night, a point from West Yorkshire would certainly be a credible one. Unlike the Blackpool weather, it’s not all doom and gloom, unbeaten in 15 in all competitions and with a good January behind us, we should be looking up, not down.
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