Blackpool 1-1 Portsmouth: Armand Gnanduillet nets again as Seasiders maintain unbeaten run
Armand Gnanduillet was among the goals again as Blackpool came from behind to draw with Portsmouth to maintain their unbeaten start to the season.
The striker towered home a second-half header to draw the Seasiders level after Marcus Harness had put the away side in front in the opening period.
Gnanduillet’s goal was his fifth of the season from just seven games, marking a mightily impressive start to the campaign.
It was very much a game of two halves, as Pompey were the better side in the opening period with Simon Grayson’s men struggling for creativity.
But the Seasiders came firing out of the blocks at the start of the second half, getting that deserved point courtesy of Gnanduillet’s header.
While the result sees Pool slip down to third in the table, they will be delighted at their return of 12 points from the opening six league fixtures.
Grayson opted to make the one change to his side from last week’s stalemate at Rochdale.
Callum Guy was the player to make way, dropping to the bench in favour of Joe Nuttall who was handed his first start.
Matty Virtue returned from a pre-season thigh complaint to be named on the bench, his first match-day involvement this campaign.
There was no place in the squad for new signings Calum Macdonald or Sean Scannell, while Nathan Delfouneso was missing for the second week running with a hamstring injury he picked up in the draw at Gillingham.
The Seasiders were straight onto the front foot from the off, camping themselves in Pompey’s half and pressing at every opportunity.
But genuine opportunities were hard to come by, other than a James Husband cross that almost reached Sullay Kaikai in the middle.
The visitors slowly but surely grew into the game and, 15 minutes in, enjoyed their first sight of goal.
A ricochet fell nicely for Andy Cannon on the edge of the Pool box and the midfielder had a free shot on goal, but he got his effort all wrong and skewed wide.
But the missed opportunity was forgotten about a minute later, when Portsmouth took the lead after a defensive mix-up.
Curtis Tilt was dispossessed by dangerman John Marquis after trodding on the ball, allowing the striker the opportunity to race through on goal.
The forward was crowded out by Ryan Edwards, but unfortunately for the Seasiders the ball fell straight to Marcus Harness whose shot deflected past Jak Alnwick and into the back of the net.
One goal almost became two a few minutes later and again it involved another moment of uncertainty from a Pool defender.
Edwards’ backwards header was again picked up by Marquis, who shifted the ball onto his left foot before seeing his fierce drive superbly tipped around the post by Alnwick.
This sparked a period of pressure from Kenny Jackett side, who were causing all sorts of issues with their movement and slick passing.
The Seasiders, meanwhile, continued to look nervy at the back, Edwards receiving a booking after pulling back Marquis after the striker had capitalised on the centre back trodding on the ball.
Pool came out at the start of the second half with a much more positive intent, creating a promising opening for top scorer Armand Gnanduillet.
Kaikai was the creator, playing in Ollie Turton whose dangerous ball across the face of the six-yard box was just cleared ahead of the lurking Gnanduillet.
The pressure from Grayson’s men eventually told on the hour mark, and it was that man Gnanduillet who found the back of the net for his fifth of the season.
It was a familiar combination, too, Liam Feeney - who had endured a quiet game up to that point, delivered a pinpoint cross for the striker who towered above his marker to head home.
Having been so disappointing in the first half, the Seasiders almost completed a remarkable turnaround when they nearly made it 2-1.
It was James Husband this time who provided the cross from the left, finding Gnanduillet at the back post whose header was blocked near the foot of the post and cleared away for a corner.
Joe Nuttall was the next man to have a shot at goal, drilling a low effort at Craig MacGillivray after skipping a challenge 25 yards from goal.
Pool were a matter of inches away from taking the lead when Kaikai delivered yet another dangerous set-piece in the Pompey box, Gnanduillet beating his marker before glancing a header agonisingly wide of the far post.
For all of Pool’s dominance, they almost found themselves falling behind for a second time with 20 minutes remaining.
The away side looked to work the ball into the box and a deflection fell kindly for Marquis, whose left-footed effort was saved by Alnwick’s strong one-handed stop.
Ronan Curtis then wasted a good shooting opportunity for Portsmouth, blazing well over the bar with a 25-yeard free kick.
Curtis came much closer with a chance eight minutes from time, which came after Edwards gave the ball away in Pompey’s half.
The away side broke at speed, Curtis beating Turton on the outside before flashing a low shot just wide of the far post.
Both sides pushed for a late winner but no clear-cut chance came, with Blackpool eventually satisfied to hold on for a third consecutive draw in League One.
Blackpool: Alnwick, Turton, Edwards, Tilt, Feeney, Husband, Spearing (Guy), Thompson, Kaikai (Virtue), Nuttall, Gnanduillet
Subs not used: Mafoumbi, Bushiri, Heneghan, Shaw, Hardie
Portsmouth: MacGillivray, Burgess, Naylor, Downing, Haunstrup, Close, McCrorie (Walkes), Cannon, Harness (Evans, Harrison), Curtis, Marquis
Subs not used: Bass, Raggett, Maloney, Pitman
Referee: Christopher Sarginson
Attendance: 10,605 (1,816 Portsmouth)