Blackpool 0-0 West Brom: Seasiders withstand barrage of pressure in pulsating clash to claim third straight draw

Blackpool played out a third straight draw in a pulsating clash against high-flying West Brom under the lights at Bloomfield Road.

Tuesday, 23rd November 2021, 9:41 pm
Updated Wednesday, 24th November 2021, 9:20 am

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The Seasiders withstood a barrage of pressure from the third-placed Baggies, who produced as many as 23 shots on the Blackpool goal.

The visitors wasted some golden chances and will rue their wastefulness in front of goal, but Neil Critchley’s men also had their opportunities.

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Their clearest chances came in first-half stoppage-time, when England international Sam Johnstone denied Gary Madine and Keshi Anderson in quick succession with two breath-taking stops.

The result sees Blackpool move up to ninth in the Championship table, with a number of other sides in action tomorrow night.

The big news before kick-off was the return of a certain CJ Hamilton, who was registered in the squad in time to be named among the substitutes.

The winger, who last appeared for the Seasiders at the end of August, is now back fit after recovering from his second foot operation of the year.

Gary Madine had Blackpool's clearest chance of the night - but was thwarted by England international Sam Johnstone

Critchley made four changes to his side in total, bringing Kenny Dougall back into the fold alongside Josh Bowler, Shayne Lavery and Gary Madine.

Dujon Sterling, Callum Connolly, Demetri Mitchell and Jerry Yates were the four players to make way. In Mitchell’s case, he dropped out of the squad altogether.

Chris Maxwell (torn quad), Richard Keogh (calf), Luke Garbutt (knee), Kevin Stewart (ankle), Matty Virtue (ACL) and Grant Ward (achilles) all remain sidelined.

The changes saw Pool revert back to a back four, having moved to a back three in South Wales on Saturday to counteract Swansea.

Third-placed West Brom, who are looking to avoid a fifth straight away loss, made two changes from their 1-0 weekend defeat to Huddersfield Town.

West Brom keeper and England international Sam Johnstone almost gifted the Seasiders an early lead, making a real hash of an attempted clearance in just the third minute.

The ball appeared to bobble a little before reaching the shot stopper, resulting in Johnstone’s punt forward skewing up only a matter of yards to his right. But the visitors just about survived.

The game began at a great tempo, in complete contrast to Saturday’s technical but dour affair in Swansea.

The Seasiders were lucky to escape in the 11th minute when Dan Grimshaw was almost punished for a poor pass out from the back.

The Pool keeper inadvertently played the ball straight to Grady Diangana, who dragged his effort well wide.

The hosts, roared on by the boisterous Blackpool support, hit back with a good chance of their own from Josh Bowler’s floated free-kick.

The winger’s delivery was headed into the danger area by James Husband towards Gary Madine, who couldn’t quite force it home following some pinball.

Madine’s strike partner Shayne Lavery also squandered a good chance a couple of moments later, the Northern Irishman scooping an effort at Johnstone after initially getting the ball stuck under his feet.

The visiting Baggies fans were beginning to get a little restless watching their side forced into numerous mistakes.

Nevertheless, the visitors remained an attacking threat, Alex Mowatt curling wastefully over after being set up by the tricky Conor Townsend.

The wing-back, who continued to cause Jordan Gabriel problems down the left, then shot straight at Grimshaw after latching onto a clever through ball from former Seasider Matt Phillips.

This sparked a sustained spell of West Brom pressure, but the home side stood firm - Reece James in particular making a series of important blocks and interceptions.

The Baggies launched wave after wave of attack on the Blackpool goal, Grimshaw forced to save well with his feet to deny Karlan Grant.

Critchley’s men probably would have been satisfied to remain level at the break, but things could have got even better in first-half stoppage-time.

But Johnstone, who has been capped three times by the Three Lions, made two incredible reaction stops to deny the Seasiders.

The first was a clawing dive to deny Madine’s glancing header, before he leapt off the ground to somehow tip Keshi Anderson’s follow-up around the post.

Madine was also involved in the thick of the action in the opening exchanges of the first-half, seeing a close-range effort blocked by Kyle Bartley after a powerful run forward from Anderson.

The game, still on a knife edge, began to become a bit more stretched from the hour mark onwards.

The Seasiders continued to ride their luck a little, Matt Clarke somehow heading over the bar from virtually on the goalline.

Former Preston striker Jordan Hugill, who had only just replaced Phillips, who was given a decent reception as he left the field, saw a close-range effort superbly blocked by Reece James, who threw his body on the line to keep the scores level.

To stem the tide of pressure, Critchley turned to his bench in the 66th bench, introducing Owen Dale and CJ Hamilton into the fray. Bowler and Lavery were the men to make way.

The shift to the 4231 system worked to give the home side a lift, but the Baggies remained a threat every time they ventured forward - James Husband and Marvin Ekpiteta making two exceptional blocks in quick succession to keep West Brom at bay.

Hamilton probably ought to have marked his return with a goal, scooping wastefully over after being picked out unmarked 10 yards out by a delicious Anderson through-ball.

West Brom’s 18th shot of the night came from Matt Clarke with six minutes remaining, but his low drive was well handled by Grimshaw.

Number 19 arrived a minute later and it was arguably their clearest chance of the night, Grant somehow managing to side foot wide at the near post.

It proved to be the final opportunity of what was a captivating, but ultimately goalless night of action on the Fylde coast.

TEAMS

Blackpool: Grimshaw, Gabriel, Ekpiteta, Husband, James, Dougall, Wintle, Bowler (Dale), Anderson, Lavery (Hamilton), Madine

Subs not used: Moore, Sterling, Gretarsson, Connolly, Yates

West Brom: Johnstone, Kipre, Bartley, Clarke, Furlong, Molumby, Mowatt, Townsend, Diangana (Robinson), Phillips (Hugill), Grant

Subs not used: Button, Ajayi, Gardner-Hickman, Reach, Fellows

Referee: Jarred Gillett

Attendance: 11,517

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