Accrington Stanley 1-2 Blackpool: Jay Spearing penalty hands Seasiders vital win
A Jay Spearing penalty nine minutes from time handed Blackpool a priceless win in an enthralling encounter against Accrington Stanley.
The skipper sent the travelling fans into raptures as he slammed home to get the Seasiders back to winning ways after back-to-back defeats.
Pool had earlier taken the lead after just five minutes, Matty Virtue bagging his first goal for the club after just five minutes.
But they were pegged back by Luke Armstrong’s effort the home side, who ended the game with 10 men after goalkeeper Dimitar Evtimov was shown a straight red in bizarre circumstances.
The win sets Blackpool up perfectly for Saturday's homecoming clash against Southend United, where they will be backed by more than 13,000 fans.
Terry McPhillips rung the changes after the weekend drubbing at Bristol Rovers, making four changes in total.
In came Matty Virtue, Antony Evans, Liam Feeney and Joe Dodoo as Pool started the game in a 4-4-2 formation.
Donervon Daniels dropped down to the bench along with Harry Pritchard, Jordan Thompson and Nathan Delfouneso.
Chris Long returned to the squad after missing the weekend defeat after his partner gave birth, but was only named on the bench.
There was still no place for either Nya Kirby or Elias Sorensen in the 18-man squad.
Marc Bola, Callum Guy, Jimmy Ryan and Max Clayton remain sidelined through injury.
The game kicked off to the sound of the boisterous 1,800 supporters housed in two stands of the Crown Ground, with tangerine smoke filtering across the East Lancashire horizon.
This was shortly followed by chants of “we got Oyston out”, which was received by a round of applause by the Accrington fans housed at the opposite end of the ground.
And there was pandemonium in the away ends just five minutes in when Matty Virtue gave Blackpool the perfect start, scoring his first goal for the club.
The midfielder calmly slotted home beyond Dimitar Evtimov’s desperate dive after being teed up by Joe Dodoo, Pool being rewarded for their persistence to keep the attack alive.
The hosts almost levelled things just a minute later, but Jordan Clark somehow managed to blaze over when space opened up for him just 10 yards out from goal.
Pool had a great chance to get two ahead just 16 minutes in, goalscorer Virtue almost turning provider when his teasing cross was just missed by Dodoo at the back post.
But the home side drew themselves level shortly afterwards, Luke Armstrong directing a first-time effort into the far corner.
It came after Pool had been caught out down their right, Evans failing to track back allowing full back Liam Gibson to tee up Armstrong from the left and the striker made no mistake.
Dodoo went sprawling in the Accrington box after capitalising on an error from Mark Hughes, but instead of awarding Pool a penalty the referee gave a free kick the other way and booked the forward for simulation.
The hosts almost got themselves into trouble again when Hughes looped a risky ball back to his own goalkeeper but Evtimov did well to control and hoof clear under pressure.
Evans then went close to restoring Pool’s lead, side-footing an effort across the face of goal when he really ought to have hit the target.
The Seasiders threatened to retake the lead on the cusp of half time, Virtue holding up a cross to the back post where Ben Heneghan did well to keep the ball in play but couldn’t quite find a teammate inside the six-yard box.
The defender had to be careful at the other end at the start of the second half as he made a last-ditch challenge to deny Clark a shot at goal, but he timed it to perfection.
There was nothing he or Mark Howard could do to deny Sean McConville when he let fly from 25 yards, but thankfully the bar came to Blackpool’s rescue.
Pool responded with two huge chances, but unfortunately both came and went without the ball ending up in the back of the Accrington net.
Substitute Chris Long wrestled his way in behind before being denied by Evtimov, who again came to the rescue for the home side as he saved from Armand Gnanduillet who again was clean through on goal.
Liam Feeney was the next man to go close for the visitors, firing inches wide of the back post after Pool played a quick free-kick out to him on the left.
With Pool’s failure to capitalise on their spell of pressure, the home side began to come back into the game and came close through former AFC Fylde man Sam Finley, who fired just wide of the upright.
Another nervy moment for the home side almost presented Feeney with a simple tap when Evtimov spilled the ball, but he recovered to snatch it away from him at the final moment.
A spell of high drama ensued in the final 10 minutes, when Pool were given a penalty for a trip on Feeney inside the box.
Captain Jay Spearing made no mistake from 12 yards, slamming home down the middle to restore Pool’s lead.
Accrington goalkeeper Evtimov was bizarrely sent off after reportedly throwing a beer bottle back into the crowd which had entered the pitch following Blackpool’s delirious celebrations.
Long wasted a couple of gilt-edged chances to add a third in the six minutes of stoppage time but it wasn’t to matter, as Pool held on for their first win in five.
Accrington: Evtimov, Johnson (Wood), Hughes, Donacien, Rodgers (Kee), Gibson, Clark (Maxted), Barlaser, Finley, McConville, Armstrong
Subs not used: Brown, Zanzala, Williams, Smyth
Blackpool: Howard, Turton, Heneghan, Tilt, Anderton, Spearing, Virtue (Pritchard), Evans (Thompson), Feeney, Dodoo (Long), Gnanduillet
Subs not used: Boney, Daniels, Taylor, Delfouneso
Referee: Ross Joyce
Attendance: 3,792 (1,823 Blackpool)