DCSIMG

Phillips double hands Pool vital win

Blackpool's Ian Evatt celebrates scoring

Blackpool's Ian Evatt celebrates scoring

Kevin Phillips claimed a goal in each half as Blackpool reignited their npower Championship play-off bid against 10-man Brighton.

Joe Mattock headed the visitors into an early lead from Vincente’s corner, but centre-back Ian Evatt joined the Seasiders attack in the 37th minute to level matters.

In a frantic period before half-time Blackpool went ahead as veteran striker Phillips demonstrated his poacher’s instincts to be as strong as ever.

Phillips knew very little about his second effort - a 15th this term - as Gary Taylor-Fletcher’s shot ricocheted off him and beyond Seagulls goalkeeper Peter Brezovan with 10 minutes remaining.

By that stage Brighton were operating with reduced numbers as a result of Gonzalo Jara’s studs-up challenge on Keith Southern before the hour.

The win lifts Blackpool back into the top six at the expense of Brighton, who are a point behind Middlesbrough in sixth after their first league defeat of 2012.

Ian Holloway made three changes to the Seasiders’ starting line-up following back-to-back defeats. Neil Eardley, Phillips and Southern came in for Craig Cathcart, Lomana LuaLua and Ludovic Sylvestre, with no place for the latter on the bench.

Spanish midfielder Vicente was rewarded with his first Brighton start since October in place of Will Buckley after netting both goals in last weekend’s 2-0 win over Portsmouth, while Craig Mackail-Smith returned in attack at the expense of Sam Vokes.

Phillips crafted the afternoon’s first opportunity for namesake Matt to scuff wide in the in the third minute, but the hosts were soon behind.

Blackpool goalkeeper Matt Gilks made a superb fingertip save when Mackail-Smith headed Craig Noone’s cross goalwards only for Mattock to rise unmarked and thump home from the resulting corner.

Holloway’s men applied pressure in search of an immediate response and Adam El-Abd was forced to clear off the Brighton line after Southern’s deflected drive had Brezovan beaten.

A stray pass from Blackpool captain Barry Ferguson put Evatt under pressure and Noone capitalised to drive goalwards in the 24th minute. Gilks parried before Mackail-Smith rattled the post from an offside position.

Kevin Phillips drew a superb diving save from Brezovan in the 35th minute with a first-time shot from Eardley’s centre and Blackpool found the equaliser their endeavours deserved moments later.

Evatt launched a Seasiders attack from deep and continued his run to sidefoot into the corner when Stephen Crainey’s cross fell free in the Brighton box.

Gus Poyet’s side were still reeling when Tom Ince burst into the box to find Kevin Phillips, who failed to make a clean contact but a deflection off Jara was enough to take his shot beyond Brezovan.

The frantic pace was retained after half-time, but goalmouth was at a premium before Brighton’s task became steeper still.

Southern looked to burst clear from midfield in the 57th minute and Jara lunged in with a late challenge that referee Simon Hooper deemed worthy of a red card.

The visiting supporters wanted Hooper to even the numbers up when Eardley hacked down Ashley Barnes 25 yard from goal. He received a booking for his troubles and Gilks looked on anxiously as Vincente’s free-kick grazed the upright.

Poyet’s men continued to push and Gilks held on from a Gordon Greer header, but when Taylor-Fletcher reacted quickest to Southern’s blocked drive Kevin Phillips was the unwitting beneficiary.

 

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