Blackpool 1-2 Rotherham United: Set pieces Seasiders' undoing as 22-year winless run against Millers continues
Blackpool’s 22-year winless run against Rotherham United continued as they found themselves on the wrong end of a smash-and-grab defeat.
Their failure to deal with two second-half set pieces proved to be the Seasiders’ undoing as they lost for the first time in five outings.
Pool were the better side for much of the game but they were left to rue their wastefulness in front of goal, four or five presentable chances going to waste.
They did eventually get a goal back, although it came with the last action of the game as Armand Gnanduillet converted a 98th-minute penalty.
The Seasiders, who slip down to sixth in the League One table, have now lost six of their last nine encounters with the Millers, their last win coming in 1997.
Given Blackpool’s current list of absentees, it was no real surprise to see Simon Grayson named an unchanged side from Monday’s goalless draw at Bolton Wanderers.
But the good news was that Nathan Delfouneso was fit enough to make his return to feature on the subs bench.
The forward hadn’t featured for the Seasiders since picking up a second hamstring injury of the season in the 3-2 defeat at Coventry City, missing five games in the process.
Both Rocky Bushiri and Jordan Thompson were unavailable having been called up for international duty, while Sullay Kaikai and Joe Nuttall remain sidelined with injuries.
The Seasiders saw an early opportunity go to waste, James Husband and Sean Scannell combining well down the left with the former’s pullback missing everyone in the middle.
While it was the Millers who saw more of the ball in the opening stages, the first chance of the game came the way of Blackpool.
Callum Guy threaded through a ball to Matty Virtue down the middle and the midfielder forced an unorthodox save out of Rotherham keeper Dan Iversen, who topped the ball wide for a corner.
At the other end, Ollie Turton threw his body on the line to block Matt Crooks’ drilled effort from the edge of the area.
The Seasiders came within a whisker of taking the lead after 21 minutes with two huge chances in quick succession.
The first came the way Sean Scannell, who blasted a shot between the defender’s leg which was well saved by Iversen.
Pool worked the ball back into the danger zone where it fell to Virtue just eight yards out, but the midfielder could only hook the ball over the keeper and onto the crossbar.
Millers keeper Iversen continued to thwart the Seasiders, getting down at his near post on the half-hour mark to save Armand Gnanduillet’s downward header.
But it was Pool who continued to look the more likely to break the deadlock as they played with a far more attacking intent than they did during the drab draw at Bolton.
Rotherham’s one and only chance of the first half came in the 44th minute, centre back Michael Ihiekwe looping a header onto the top of the Pool crossbar.
It was a rare sighting of goal for the visitors who had been nullified as a threat all half until their late set piece.
Rotherham’s second chance of the game, which came six minutes into the second half, resulted in the opening goal of the game.
A dangerous set-piece was headed back across goal by former Seasider Clark Robertson, the ball eventually being bundled into the far corner of the net by tall striker Matt Smith.
It was a goal the away side barely deserved, but Pool almost levelled matters three minutes later as James Husband whistled a low shot just past the post.
Staring down the barrel of a third defeat of the season, Grayson opted to change things up just after the hour mark by introducing the returning Delfouneso in place of skipper Jay Spearing.
Pool continued to push, Liam Feeney seeing his dangerous ball across the face of goal cleared from inside the six-yard box by veteran defender Richard Wood.
With the pressure mounting, Virtue had a shot charged down eight yards from goal after the midfielder had been cleverly set up by Gnanduillet’s lay-off.
The Seasiders again failed to take advantage of their pressure and were left frustrated by a number of late stoppages.
But the game was put to bed for good with three minutes remaining, Robertson coming back to haunt his former club by lashing home after Pool had failed to deal with another set piece.
To Pool’s credit, they kept going in search of an unlikely route back into the game, Gnanduillet flicking the top of the crossbar with a header.
Gnanduillet did eventually get a goal back, although it was nothing more than a consolation as the striker converted a 98th-minute penalty.
Blackpool: Alnwick, Turton, Heneghan, Tilt, Husband (Macdonald), Spearing (Delfouneso), Guy, Virtue, Feeney, Scannell (Hardie), Gnanduillet
Subs not used: Mafoumbi, Edwards, Nottingham, Bange
Rotherham: Iversen, Mattock, Wood, Wiles, Barlaser, Lindsay, Crooks (Clarke), Ihiekwe, Olosunde (Jones), Hastie (Ogbene), Smith
Subs not used: Price, Macdonald, Lamy, Morris
Attendance: 9,932 (1,801 Rotherham(
Referee: Chris Pollard