Blackpool 0-1 Accrington Stanley: Sean McConville's late header gives the Seasiders the Boxing Day blues

Jordan Thompson in the thick of the action
Jordan Thompson in the thick of the action
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Sean McConville’s last-gasp header for Accrington Stanley saw Blackpool slump to a second straight defeat in League One.

READ MORE: Blackpool v Accrington Stanley as it happened

Sean McConville’s last-gasp header for Accrington Stanley saw Blackpool slump to a second straight defeat in League One.

The substitute rose highest to steer home Callum Johnson’s cross to heap misery on Simon Grayson’s men in this all-Lancashire Boxing Day fixture.

Pool, for the second game running, had earlier wasted a number of opportunities to take the lead and take charge of the encounter.

But a sucker-punch right at the death meant the Seasiders tasted defeat on their final home game of 2019.

Grayson hinted pre-match that he might be tempted to ring the changes given Pool’s hectic run of games that sees them play four times in the space of just 10 days.

But he made just one alteration to the side that lost 1-0 against Shrewsbury Town in their last outing.

Following a run of six straight starts in the league, Matty Virtue dropped down to the bench with Sullay Kaikai taking his place.

It came after the winger was only named among the substitutes for the Shrewsbury game amid recent pelvis issues.

Jordan Thompson was preferred in central midfield to Virtue having been given a rare start at the weekend.

And it was the Northern Irishman who had a priceless opportunity to open the scoring after just four minutes, only to be thwarted at the last moment.

It came as Pool broke at speed with a two-on-one scenario, Nathan Delfouneso finally releasing Thompson who was denied by recovering defender Jerome Opoku just as he was readying himself to shoot.

Armand Gnanduillet won his header from the resulting corner, looping an effort that Accrington keeper Josef Bursik flapped at before his defenders bailed him out with a last-ditch clearance.

Pool saw half-hearted penalty appeals waved away on 12 minutes when Thompson went sprawling in the box under pressure from Sam Finley.

The midfielder, who appeared to be looking for the spot kick, was then booked for going head-to-head with Finely - who was also shown a yellow for his part.

Accrington threatened for the first time a few minutes later in what was an end-to-end affair, former Seasider Dion Charles failing to test Jak Alnwick with a first-time effort on the turn.

The Pool shot stopper could only palm away a second effort from Charles, which this time was on target albeit fairly central, but Ryan Edwards was there to scramble clear.

The game was momentarily paused while Alnwick received treatment for a knock on his arm, one he opted to continue with despite not looking particularly comfortable.

After a brief lull, the Seasiders came close to making the breakthrough halfway through the opening period when Edwards was denied by a strong save from Bursik from Thompson’s well-delivered corner.

Pool were eventually forced into making an early change when Alnwick signalled he could no longer continue.

That presented a senior debut for 20-year-old keeper Jack Sims, who was cheered to the rafters on his way onto the pitch before claiming an impressive catch as Accrington tested him with an early high ball.

Pool had the ball in the back of the net a few moments later when Kaikai steered home Nathan Delfouneso’s header back across the face of goal.

But the linesman eventually raised his flag after 30 seconds or so in what appeared to be an incredibly tight call.

The men in tangerine remained a threat on the break and that’s how they fashioned a chance seven minutes before the interval, Thompson failing to hit the target with a header from Liam Feeney’s right-wing cross.

In a rare opening for the visitors, Jordan Clark steered a powerful shot just wide of the near post with Sims rooted to the spot.

Pool were dealt another injury blow before the break as Kaikai was the second player forced to withdraw with a knock, Sean Scannell the man to replace him.

The hosts were given a major let-off in first-half stoppage time when Sims made a crucial save to keep the scoreline goalless.

It came after Ben Heneghan had made a hash of his attempted passback, Offrande Zanzala pouncing on the mistake before being denied by the young keeper.

Accrington had the better of the exchanges at the start of the second half, but they were unable to beat Sims who made another solid stop to deny Jordan Clark.

At the other end, Heneghan saw a powerful header cleared away from close to the goalline before Ben Barclay somehow managed to stick a leg out to deny Delfouneso, who had been found via a sumptuous through-ball from Scannell.

Feeney was the next man to get a shot off at goal, the winger looking to capitalise on Accrington giving away possession in a dangerous area only to drill his effort over the bar.

Grayson turned to Joe Nuttall with 10 minutes remaining in a final, last-ditch attempt to get a late winner.

The away side had some half-hearted penalty appeals ignored as the clock ticked to 90 minutes as Ollie Turton collided with Sean McConville.

McConville was the man to decide this Boxing Day clash late on, powering home a header beyond the reach of Sims from Callum Johnson’s right-wing centre.

TEAMS

Blackpool: Alnwick (Sims), Turton, Edwards, Heneghan, Husband, Spearing, Thompson, Feeney (Nuttall), Kaikai (Scannell), Delfouneso, Gnanduillet

Subs not used: Tilt, Macdonald, Guy, Virtue

Accrington: Bursik, Johnson, Hughes, Sykes, Clark, Barclay, Finley, Pritchard (McConville), Opoko, Zanzala, Charles

Subs not used: Evtimov, Sherif, Rodgers, Carvalho, Alese, Diallo

Referee: Michael Salisbury

Attendance: 9,517 (794 Accrington)