Blackpool 2-2 Southend United: Stoppage time own goal rescues Seasiders a point in homecoming clash
A 96th-minute own goal rescued Blackpool a point against Southend United in their homecoming clash in front of almost 16,000 fans.
Blackpool looked to be heading for defeat but in the final minute of stoppage time, Taylor Moore inadvertently headed past his own goalkeeper to spark wild scenes of celebrations.
Armand Gnanduillet had earlier levelled matters after Rob Kiernan headed the away side in front, before Michael Turner helped Southend retake the lead.
The game, which was brought to an early end after joyous supporters invaded the pitch to celebrate the late equaliser, was played out in front of 15,871 fans to mark the end of the boycott and the start of a new era.
Terry McPhillips made two changes to his team from the midweek win at Accrington Stanley, bringing in Harry Pritchard and Nathan Delfouneso.
Antony Evans and Joe Dodoo were the two to make way, both dropping down to the bench.
Marc Bola was not fit enough to return, leaving him on the sidelines with Callum Guy, Jimmy Ryan and Max Clayton.
Very little happened on the pitch in the early stages, but off it there was a real carnival atmosphere from the packd home stands - which were a sea of tangerine.
But Blackpool soon forced a couple of corners in quick succession and it was from the second one where the first chance of the game fell their way.
Curtis Tilt worked the ball to Harry Pritchard on the edge of the area and his curler looked destined for the top corner, but Southend keeper Nathan Bishop did superbly to tip it around the post.
Southend threatened for the first time on 16 minutes, but Mark Howard was untroubled by Charlie Kelman’s shot from outside the area.
The visitors clearly hadn’t read the script because, four minutes later, they took the lead. Pool only had themselves to blame though, allowing Rob Kiernan a free header from a corner and he made no mistake, directing it into the bottom corner.
Pool came close to an instant leveller, but Armand Gnanduillet could only steer his stooping header wide of goal from Pritchard’s delivery.
On 28 minutes, they did draw themselves level and it was Gnanduillet who made no mistake this time, bagging his 12th goal of the season to raise the roof inside Bloomfield Road.
The striker was played in down the left by Liam Feeney, taking a touch before lashing home high into the roof of the net, giving Bishop no chance.
Gnanduillet came close to a second just after the half-hour mark, heading narrowly over after peeling off his man at the back.
Southend came close to retaking the lead as Sam Hart’s long throw caused chaos in Blackpool’s six-yard box, but a backtracking Howard just managed to clear his lines after a flick-on looked to be looping in.
It looked as though Pool might have taken the lead on the stroke of half time when the fans thought Bishop had fumbled Pritchard’s cross over his own goalline, but the referee whistled for a free kick for an apparent shove on the keeper.
The Seasiders came firing out of the blocks at the start of the second half, with Ollie Turton whistling a low drive just past the far post.
Yet, on 49 minutes, they found themselves behind for the second time and again it came after they switched off from a corner.
This time centre back Michael Turner was the beneficiary, flicking a first-time effort into the top corner.
Southend looked just as nervy defending corners themselves, but unlike Blackpool they were getting away with it - clearing Spearing’s delivery away just a yard out from their own goalline before the Seasiders could capitalise.
Midway through the second half, for the first time all afternoon, the atmosphere became a little flat as Southend began to waste time and wind the clock down.
Pool did go close through substitute Chris Long, who brought a smart save out of Bishop at the near post after spinning and firing at goal.
Matty Virtue was the next Pool player to force Bishop into a save, shooting straight at the Southend keeper after letting fly from the edge of the area.
Blackpool had penalty appeals waved away with 15 minutes to go when Long went sprawling in the box after nipping the ball past the keeper, but the referee instead waved a yellow card to the forward for an apparent dive.
It looked like it just wasn’t going to be Pool’s day, as Southend keeper Bishop made yet another stunning save to deny the home side - Bishop producing a sublime fingertip save to tip over Turton’s 20-yard piledriver.
Southend wasted a glorious chance to make it 3-1 in the final minute of normal time, Simon Cox springing the offside trap to go one-on-one with Howard only for the Pool keeper to deny him.
But it was Blackpool who had the final say, somehow clawing themselves level in the dying minutes of stoppage time.
It came after a hopeful long ball was flicked on into Southend’s six-yard box and Moore inadvertently directed the ball past his own goalkeeper.
The goal resulted in pandemonium in the stands, with that excitement spilling out onto the pitch and the game immediately being brought to an end after the referee took the players off the pitch.
Blackpool: Howard, Turton, Heneghan, Tilt, Anderton (Daniels), Spearing, Virtue, Pritchard (Long), Feeney, Delfouneso (Thompson), Gnanduillet
Subs not used: Boney, Taylor, Evans, Dodoo
Bishop, Bwomono, Hyam, Turner, Dieng, Kiernan, Mantom (Moore), Lennon, Kelman (Demetriou), Hart, Cox (Bunn)
Subs not used: Smith, Kightly, Yearwood, Webo
Referee: Christopher Sarginson
Attendance: 15,871 (373 Southend)