BLACKPOOL earned their second point in a week but whether it’s enough to keep them in the Premier League remains to be seen.
Three points were the order of the day at Bloomfield Road but against a stubborn and organised Stoke side, Pool had to settle for a share of the spoils.
In fact the 0-0 scoreline is almost unheard of - not since August 2009, and a couple of games into Ian Holloway’s reign, had the Seasiders last had a goalless draw at home (Derby County, 0-0).
The result takes the Tangerines to 34 points but they are likely to need another four or five to stay up - and with two of the remaining three games at Tottenham and Manchester United, that is a tough ask.
But Holloway can, like last week against Newcastle, take great heart from today’s performance.
Facing an established Premier League outfit, who have the FA Cup Final to look forward to, the Seasiders matched their opponents and thoroughly deserved a draw. They worked hard throughout, battled and did themselves proud.
The first half was odd. There was no lack of effort on either team’s part, and it was always entertaining to watch, but nothing much really happened.
Pool were marginally the better side and played some good football but such is the strength of Stoke’s excellently organised defence, the Seasiders failed to get behind their opponents and thus chances were
few and far between.
DJ Campbell headed Stephen Crainey’s cross over, Neal Eardley fired an angled shot past the upright, and Charlie Adam hit the wall with a free kick.
At the other end, Crainey (in brilliant form once again) had to clear Robert Huth’s volley off the line after Stoke caused problems with their first long Rory Delap free kick of the afternoon. Ian Evatt then made a brilliant tackle on Kenwyne Jones as the big striker threatened to break through.
On the stroke of half time, a massive let off. It was that man Jones, latching onto a Rory Delap pass, who rounded Matt Gilks and was faced with the seemingly simple of task of sticking the ball into an empty net. It was therefore something of a surprise, albeit a pleasant one, when he chipped a quite terrible shot past the post. Pool had got out of jail, though it would have been harsh had they been behind at the break - they’d played pretty well.
Keith Southern shot wide of the target eight minutes into the second half, then Matt Gilks had to leap to his left to beat out Glenn Whelan’s well-struck shot from distance.
Pool missed out on yet another spot kick when DJ Campbell went down under the robust challenge of Whelan. Some referee’s might well have given a penalty, unfortunately Mark Clattenburg isn’t one.
David Vaughan sliced a left-footer high and wide after getting into a good position on the edge of the box.
But Stoke were more of an attacking force in the early stages of the second period and there were several nervy moments as the away side hoofed long balls into the penalty area.
Ian Holloway responded by making a double substitution, Luke Varney and Sergei Kornilenko replacing Matt Phillips and Gary Taylor-Fletcher.
But despite a high-tempo last 15 minutes, neither could create a real clear cut opportunity and instead we ended with a rare goalless draw. Good, but perhaps not quite good enough.
BLACKPOOL: Gilks, Eardley, Baptiste, Evatt, Crainey, Southern, Vaughan, Adam, Phillips (Varney 73), Taylor-Fletcher (Kornilenko 73), Campbell. Subs: Kingson, Ormerod, Reid, Kornilenko, Varney, Cathcart, Puncheon
STOKE: Begovi, Huth, Whelan, Kenwyne Jones, Wilson, Pennant (Diao 90), Shawcross (cap), Whitehead, Walters, Delap (Carew 81), Wilkinson (Shotton 56). Subs: Sorensen, Collins, Pugh, Carew, Faye, Shotton
REF: Mark Clattenburg (Tyne & Wear)