Blackpool 0-1 Sunderland: Seasiders suffer narrow New Year's Day defeat at Bloomfield Road

Armand Gnanduillet and Chris Taylor appeal desperately to the linesman
Armand Gnanduillet and Chris Taylor appeal desperately to the linesman
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Blackpool were on the wrong end of the fine margins yet again in their 1-0 New Year's Day defeat against Sunderland at Bloomfield Road.

Trailing 1-0 to Josh Maja’s first-half effort, the Seasiders thought they had equalised at the start of the second period when Armand Gnanduillet appeared to have bundled the ball over the line.

But, to Blackpool’s amazement, it wasn’t awarded and the visitors - backed by more than 7,800 fans - held on to claim the three points.

A point would have been the least Pool deserved for their spirited display, but their lack of quality in front of goal again shone through as they slipped to their fourth defeat from their last six games.

There was some welcome news for Blackpool in the lead-up to the game, as they were able to welcome Donervon Daniels back into the fold.

It comes after the defender had missed Pool’s previous two games - the 2-1 defeat at Rochdale and the 0-0 draw at AFC Wimbledon - for family reasons.

He came back into the side as one of two changes from the team that played at Wimbledon, with Liam Feeney also returning.

Michael Nottingham and John O’Sullivan were the two to drop down to the bench.

Jay Spearing was fit enough to continue despite being forced to come off with a slight knock in Saturday's stalemate at Kingsmeadow.

While Joe Dodoo returned from injury to take a spot on the bench, the Seasiders are still without Curtis Tilt, Ollie Turton, Jimmy Ryan, Max Clayton and Mark Cullen.

Jordan Thompson, meanwhile, served the second of his three-match suspension.

Sunderland, who are flying high and contending for automatic promotion in League One, were backed by an impressive 7,800 fans on the Fylde coast.

Roared on by that raucous following, it was the visitors who made the brighter start in what was a frantic opening to the game.

But the first shot in anger came from Pool’s Chris Taylor, who saw his ambitious long-range effort curl just over the crossbar.

The game soon quietened down, reflected by the drop in noise from the away end which had previously been bouncing.

But all that changed on 23 minutes, when Josh Maja handed Sunderland the lead. It came after Pool had failed to close down Aiden McGeady, who was given far too much time to cross into the six-yard box where Josh Maja prodded home, Pool’s defenders watching on motionless.

To Blackpool’s credit, they produced a spirited response, going close to finding an instant leveller on two occasions in quick succession.

The Seasiders worked the ball down the left well to get Marc Bola in behind, but he showed poor awareness and failed to pick out Armand Gnanduillet who had opted to make a dart towards the near post, rather than come short as Bola had hoped.

In the following move, Pool came within a whisker of an equaliser as Taylor diverted his close-range shot onto the post after Daniels’ header had caused havoc within Sunderland’s backline.

Blackpool had a couple of good chances to break at speed, on one such occasion Nathan Delfouneso was ready to race through on goal and just needed the right pass to set him free, but Callum Guy’s effort was weak and Sunderland were able to clear.

The unmarked Gnanduillet was inches away from making contact with Taylor’s teasing free-kick delivery, but the striker couldn’t quite make contact inside the six-yard box despite being at full stretch.

The half ended with Sunderland almost adding a second, Jack Baldwin nodding wide at the back post from McGeady’s dangerous chipped ball.

Blackpool appeared to have hauled themselves back level within three minutes of the restart, Gnanduillet wheeling away in celebration after his stabbed effort appeared to roll over the line after rebounding off the inside of the post.

But neither the referee or linesman, who both exchanged a look at each other before making up their minds, were confident enough to award the goal.

Tempers flared between the two sets of players 10 minutes into the second period, with Sunderland enraged after Paudie O’Connor kicked the ball at Lynden Gooch who was down on the floor.

This caused the atmosphere to turn up another notch, with McGeady going close to adding a second for the visitors just after the hour-mark.

The winger and former Preston North End man cut inside before firing in a vicious, swerving effort which Howard could only fumble around the post.

With 20 minutes left on the clock, the visitors came close with two attempts inside a minute. Maja had the first, seeing his low drive superbly tipped around the post by Howard.

From the subsequent corner, Tom Flanagan’s back-post header was cleared off the line by Jay Spearing.

McGeady was given another opportunity to get a shot off at goal as Sunderland took advantage of Pool momentarily being a man down with Guy laying on the floor injured, but the winger could only blaze well over Howard’s crossbar.

With just 10 minutes remaining, Spearing’s curling cross caused chaos in the Sunderland box. The Blackpool fans were screaming for Gnanduillet to shoot, but he instead opted to play the ball back across goal where Sunderland were able to clear.

At the other end, Howard was at full stretch to push away Gooch’s rasping drive which was heading for the top corner.

Try as they might, Pool weren’t able to create a clear opening in the four minutes of stoppage time as Sunderland efficiently wound the clock down to claim the points.

TEAMS

Blackpool: Howard, Daniels, Heneghan, O'Connor, Bola, Spearing, Guy, Taylor (Pritchard), Feeney, Delfouneso (Dodoo), Gnanduillet

Subs not used: Mafoumbi, Nottingham, Shaw, O'Sullivan, Davies

Sunderland: McLaughlin, Flanagan, O'Nien, Baldwin, James, Cattermole, McGeady, Maja (Maguire), Power, Gooch, Wyke (McGeouch)

Subs not used: Ruiter, Ozturk, Sinclair, Mumba, Mbunga-Kimpioka

Referee: Darren Drysdale

Attendance: 10,994 (7,804 Sunderland)