Blackpool 0-1 Coventry City: Controversial winner condemns Seasiders to second straight defeat
Viktor Gyokeres’ contentious goal for Coventry City saw Blackpool succumb to their second defeat in just four days at Bloomfield Road.
The striker bundled home in controversial circumstances in first-half stoppage time after Chris Maxwell palmed a right-wing cross into his body.
Blackpool’s fans housed behind the goal were certain the ball bobbled into the back of the net via Gyokeres’ hands, although TV replays - while inconclusive - suggested it could have rebounded off his face.
Regardless of how the goal came about, the Seasiders could have had few complaints about the half-time scoreline.
Neil Critchley’s men were second best for the vast majority of the opening half and were fortunate to survive on a number of occasions.
While they rallied towards the end of the first-half and in the second period in what was a pulsating encounter under the lights, they were unable to produce that all-important equaliser.
The defeat, Pool’s second on the bounce, means Critchley’s side are still yet to taste victory on their return to the Championship - three games in.
Pool boss Neil Critchley opted to make three changes from Saturday’s disappointing 2-0 defeat to Cardiff City.
Kenny Dougall dropped down to the bench after looking a little rusty on his return from injury against the Bluebirds. Reece James was the man to replace him.
Elsewhere, CJ Hamilton dropped out of the side after a quiet start to the campaign, while Tyreece John-Jules joined him on the substitutes’ bench.
Josh Bowler and Shayne Lavery, who have looked impressive in their cameos so far this season, came into the side for their first starts in tangerine.
Daniel Gretarsson (shoulder), Matty Virtue (ACL), Kevin Stewart (ankle), Demetri Mitchell (knee) and Gary Madine (groin) remain sidelined by injury.
Teddy Howe, Oliver Sarkic, Bez Lubala and Joe Nuttall, meanwhile, continued to be overlooked.
As for Coventry, they made two changes from their weekend 1-0 defeat to Barnsley, having kicked off their campaign with a win against Nottingham Forest.
Bloomfield Road was bouncing once again ahead of kick-off, the crowd boosted by a health away following of around 2,000 Coventry fans.
Chris Maxwell had to be alert to stop the Seasiders conceding early on, as Viktor Gyokeres surged past Richard Keogh far too easily to surge through on goal. But Blackpool’s number one stood tall to make a smart save.
The visitors, who were the stronger side earlier on, had half-hearted penalty appeals waved away when Callum O’Hare’s shot from the edge of the box cannoned into the midriff of James Husband.
Despite starting on the backfoot, the Seasiders squandered a presentable opening in the 10th minute when Josh Bowler drove forward, only to see his shot well blocked by Kyle McFadzean.
Nevertheless, it was the men in Sky Blue who looked the more likely to make the breakthrough and they almost did exactly that when Gyokeres was set free by the impressive O’Hare.
The rangey striker beat Maxwell, but on this occasion the outside of the post came to Blackpool’s rescue.
Critchley’s men threatened via a cleverly-worked corner routine from Luke Garbutt, whose pullback reached the onrushing Keshi Anderson on the bench.
The midfielder’s side-footed effort took a deflected and almost wrong-footed keeper Simon Moore, but the Coventry shot stopper was eventually able to make the save.
The game continued to be played at a frantic pace in the opening exchanges, but Coventry continued to look the more assured in possession.
The visitors made playing out from the back look easy, whereas the Seasiders were hurried and panicked.
O’Hare continued to pull the strings for the visitors, but the former Aston Villa man missed a golden chance to give his side what would have been a deserved lead.
It came after Gyokeres had beaten Keogh for pace once again before pulling the ball back into the path of O’Hare, who failed to hit the target from an inviting position.
Jamie Allen was the next Coventry man to test Maxwell, shooting straight at Pool’s captain after Husband had done well to retrieve the ball after coming under intense pressure in his own box.
Pool’s high line was clearly ineffective in the first-half, their opponents breaching it at will from one short corner in particular.
The pinpoint delivery caused absolute havoc inside the Blackpool box, but somehow the men in tangerine survived.
Pool continued to look nervy playing the ball out from back, O’Hare pouncing on one mistake before being denied by a miraculous last-ditch block from Keogh.
Despite being under the cosh for virtually the entirety of the first-half, Pool could have broken the deadlock against the run of play 10 minutes before the interval.
Jerry Yates, who had otherwise been anonymous, did well to rob Jake Clarke-Salter of the ball by the touchline.
It allowed the striker to bear down on goal but, despite having Keshi Anderson and Shayne Lavery free in the box, Yates opted to delay and delay before his eventual delivery was well claimed by Moore.
This began the start of Blackpool’s first sustained spell of pressure in the game, which ought to have resulted in a goal in the 40th minute.
Anderson did superbly to hold onto the ball, staying patient before slipping in Lavery.
The Northern Irishman cut inside from the left to create more space for himself, but - despite having the goal at his mercy - the striker could only curl wide when he simply had to score.
The 22-year-old missed another presentable opportunity right on the stroke of half-time, his shot well saved by Moore after the Coventry keeper had raced off his line to meet him.
The Seasiders were made to pay for that miss when they finally succumbed in first-half stoppage-time.
The goal was scored in highly controversial circumstances though, Gyokeres appearing to force the ball home with his hand after Maxwell had failed to deal with Fankaty Dabo’s dangerous cross from the right.
TV replays, however, showed the ball cannoned into Gyokeres’ face, rather than his arm, resulting in it bobbling into the back of the Pool net.
Nevertheless, the Seasiders could have no complaints being a goal down at half-time having been outplayed for 40 minutes of the opening half.
Improvements were required in the second-half, but Pool almost found themselves two down within 60 seconds of the restart as Ian Maatsen blazed over from Gyokeres’ pullback.
Pool continued to be given the runaround by O’Hare, who was allowed to waltz past a series of challenges to surge into the Blackpool box.
His eventual shot took a wicked deflection which wrongfooted Maxwell, only to drop narrowly wide of the far post.
Pool resorted to a more direct approach to produce a third opportunity of the game for Lavery, who was denied by Moore once again.
The striker latched onto Jerry Yates’ flick-on before firing low towards goal, only to be denied by a smart stop from Moore.
Buoyed by the boisterous support from the North Stand, the Seasiders kept up the pressure, Bowler drilling a dangerous ball across goal which somehow evaded his teammates in the box, before Anderson brought a good save out of Moore at his near post.
Pool’s tails were up, but the visitors' threat remained live, Gustavo Hamer firing narrowly across the face of goal, Maxwell getting the faintest of touches to turn it around the post.
Gyokeres, meanwhile, continued to terrorise the Blackpool backline, firing over from the edge of the box midway through the second period.
With 20 minutes remaining, Pool were awarded a free-kick in an inviting position which Luke Garbutt powered towards the top corner, but Moore made another good stop to tip it over the bar.
With 18 minutes left on the clock, Critchley changed things up by bringing Kenny Dougall and Tyreece John-Jules off the bench. Reece James and Yates were the two to make way.
Their final roll of the dice, meanwhile, came 10 minutes from time when CJ Hamilton entered the fray in place of Anderson.
Coventry substitute Martyn Waghorn went down in the Blackpool box late on after a coming-together with Husband, but the striker was shown a yellow card for simulation.
The hosts threw everything they had at Coventry in the dying stages in search of that all-important equaliser.
Time was on their side, too, the fourth official indicating six minutes of time to be added on after the 90.
One final chance came their way in the fourth minute of six, Callum Connolly getting in down the right before pulling the ball back into the path of Hamilton, who could only blaze wastefully over.
That ultimately proved to be that and it was the jubilant Coventry fans that were celebrating come the final whistle.
Blackpool: Maxwell, Connolly, Keogh, Husband, Garbutt, James (Dougall), Ward, Bowler, Anderson (Hamilton), Lavery, Yates (John-Jules)
Subs not used: Grimshaw, Ekpiteta, Casey, Carey
Coventry: Moore, Clarke-Salter (Rose), Maatsen (Dacosta), Dabo, Hamer, McFadzean, Allen (Waghorn), Sheaf, Hyam, Gyokeres, O’Hare
Subs not used: Wilson, Shipley, Jones, Godden
Referee: Keith Stroud
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