Accrington Stanley 1-1 Blackpool: Matty Virtue snatches late point for Seasiders
There was late drama for Blackpool for the second game running as Matty Virtue struck at the death to snatch the Seasiders a point at Accrington Stanley.
Simon Grayson's men looked to be heading for their third defeat in just four games after the home side had edged ahead early on courtesy of a freak Curtis Tilt own goal.
But, with 92 minutes on the clock, Virtue curled home a sublime effort in off the post to rescue Pool a point they barely deserved.
Blackpool were unchanged from Tuesday night’s 1-0 victory against Doncaster Rovers, although the scorer of their dramatic late winner was missing from the squad.
Armand Gnanduillet, who came off the bench to score in second-half stoppage time in midweek, missed out with an injury - with Calum Macdonald taking his spot among the substitutes.
Former Blackpool youth team player Dion Charles was named in Accrington’s starting line-up, as John Coleman made one change to his side from their 1-1 draw at Wycombe Wanderers.
Blackpool’s first foray into Accrington territory came after five minutes and ended with Jordan Thompson heading weakly wide from Liam Feeney’s cross.
A chant of “there’s only one Jimmy Armfield” belted out from the away end in the early stages, as Pool fans paid homage to their club legend on what would have been his 84th birthday.
The Seasiders were almost undone by a clever free-kick routine from the home side that saw Charles unleashed down the left flank.
The forward floated a cross towards the back post where tall centre back Ross Sykes was denied by a smart save from Jak Alnwick.
The visitors continued to probe from the resulting corner, Sam Finley seeing a low effort deflected wide.
While Pool didn’t pose much of a threat in the early stages, there were some encouraging signs with Feeney being afforded lots of space.
Grayson’s men were dealt a major blow on 16 minutes when the home side broke the deadlock courtesy of a fluke own goal.
A harmless enough looking cross from Finley somehow ended up flying into the top corner via the unfortunate Curtis Tilt, who diverted the ball over Alnwick and into the back of the net.
The Seasiders were denied a leveller seven minutes later by a fantastic reaction stop from Accrington keeper Dimitar Evtimov.
Joe Nuttall looked to burst through on goal only to be denied by a last-ditch block, with the b all rebounding to strike partner Ryan Hardie who flicked an effort towards goal - only for Evtimov to make a flying save to keep his side ahead.
Pool wasted another good chance to net three minutes later, Feeney shooting straight at the keeper despite having the goal at his mercy after being found by a superb ball over the top by Matty Virtue.
The chances continued to come and go for the Seasiders, Virtue failing to hit the target after the ball dropped to him 30 yards from goal when Evtimov failed to hold a high ball into his box.
Ryan Edwards then directed a header towards the Accrington goal from a corner only to see his effort deflect off teammate Tilt and wide of goal.
For all of Pool’s dominance, they almost found themselves two goals down five minutes before the break.
It came from another fine Finley cross, which Charles headed back across goal and onto the top of the crossbar.
Grayson’s side were handed another let-off a minute later, when Seamus Conneely could only fire over after Alnwick failed to claim a cross.
There was no improvement from the Seasiders at the start of the second half, causing Grayson to make a double change.
Ollie Turton and Sullay Kaikai were the two men to enter the fray, Ryan Edwards and Jordan Thompson making way.
After an actionless start to the second period, Pool had appeals for a penalty waved away on 64 minutes when Nuttall’s volley struck Accrington defender Mark Hughes, but the referee remained unmoved.
The Seasiders were struggling to find any sort of creativity, Accrington happy to sit deep and let Grayson’s men pass it from side to side before the move breaks down in the final third.
This saw Pool resort to desperate measures, James Husband dragging a shot well wide of goal.
As the Seasiders continued to struggle, Accrington slowly but surely became more of a threat on the counter attack.
Charles got in behind Pool’s backline down the left, before fizzing a ball across the face of the six-yard box - just missing Sean McConville in the middle.
With eight minutes remaining, Tilt swiped a first-time volley just over the crossbar from Feeney’s free kick as the Seasiders desperately searched for a route back into the game.
Accrington again came close to adding a second with four minutes remaining, McConville curling just wide from the angle.
It was left for Virtue to have the final say, the midfielder racing into the box before curling home a delightful effort in off the inside of the post to send the away fans behind the goal into raptures.
Accrington: Evtimov, Johnson, Hughes, Sykes, Clark, Finley, McConville, Conneely, Charles, Simpson (Pritchard), Opoku
Subs not used: Bursik, Edwards, Kaba Sherif, Carvalho, Alese, Diallo
Blackpool: Alnwick, Edwards (Turton), Heneghan, Tilt, Feeney, Husband, Spearing, Virtue, Thompson (Kaikai), Hardie (Scannell), Nuttall
Subs not used: Sims, Bushiri, Macdonald, Guy
Referee: John Brooks
Attendance: 4,084 (2,031 Blackpool)