A Fleetwood Town take on the Blackpool match: Resolute display earned historic result
Simon Grayson achieved something no other Fleetwood boss ever has by picking up a point in a Fylde coast derby at Bloomfield Road.
Grayson returned to his old stomping ground, where his second spell as manager proved less successful than his promotion-winning first, and disrupted the apple cart as Fleetwood forced Blackpool to settle for a third successive home draw in their bid to climb into play-off contention.
The stalemate also slowed Fleetwood’s progress after three successive victories but they put in a dogged performance to keep Blackpool at bay.
The last time they visited Bloomfield Road they were beaten 3-1 last season – their fourth straight League One defeat at the home of their Fylde coast neighbours.
And Saturday’s draw also denied Blackpool the first ever derby double in this league fixture, following their 1-0 win at Highbury in December.
Grayson’s side were the first to stop Neil Critchley’s Seasiders from scoring in seven games, an impressive unbeaten run.
But improving Fleetwood have become a tougher team to beat in recent weeks.
They held play-off chasers Accrington Stanley to a draw before going on a perfectly-timed three-game winning streak heading into the derby.
Grayson’s side kicked off their winning run with a fine performance at then league leaders Lincoln to pick up just their second victory in 15 league outings.
And then they backed that up with another fine away win at Shrewsbury to secure back-to-back wins for the first time since November and successive away league triumphs for the first time since February last year.
Fleetwood made it three on the spin when they beat Gillingham in midweek and headed into the derby full of confidence.
But it turned out to be one for the purists as the absent fans would not have been two disappointed to miss this stalemate on a bitterly blustery Blackpool afternoon.
Grayson made two changes to the side which had beaten Gillingham four days earlier as Callum Camps’ hamstring injury meant a recall for Sam Finley, while Wes Burns was back in place of Harrison Holgate after a midweek rest.
Grayson’s side were indebted to the woodwork when CJ Hamilton hit a post in the second half.
Kyle Vassell, Town’s mid-week matchwinner from the penalty spot, fluffed his lines with the visitors’ best chance arrived for a famous maiden away win at Blackpool.
Fleetwood have failed to score in their four games against Blackpool since Neil Critchley took charge there, though they did win December’s EFL Trophy tie on penalties. However, Gary Madine’s winner at Highbury this season was the only goal scored in all four games.
But despite lacking a real cutting edge on Saturday, Grayson will be delighted at a third straight clean sheet – a sign of how resolute his side have become in recent weeks.
And there is now an outside sniff at a coveted play-off place if things keep on moving in the right direction.
Just seven points stand between Town and the top six, with 33 points still up for grabs.
Four of their next six games come against teams below them in the table, including matches against the current bottom three.
Their next test is tomorrow night at home to Ipswich Town, who have lost just one of their last eight and climbed into the top six on Saturday.
Grayson will be anxious to see his side find the net against the Tractor Boys, having appeared to put their goalscoring problems behind them with this month’s trio of victories.
Fleetwood team: Cairns, Connolly, Hill, Donacien, Andrew, Burns, Batty, Finley, Rossiter, Garner (Madden 68), Vassell; Subs not used: Coleman, Holgate, Biggins, Morris, Saunders, Duffy
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