Blackpool 2-2 Plymouth Argyle: Seasiders suffer late blow as they're held to a frustrating home draw once again
A stoppage-time equaliser from Plymouth Argyle denied Blackpool a third straight win in their bid to finish in the League One play-offs.
The Seasiders looked to be heading for all three points after fighting back from a goal down, Sullay Kaikai and Jerry Yates the men to net.
Blackpool’s comeback had come after former Seasider Ryan Hardie, who left Bloomfield Road to join Argyle on a permanent basis in January, had given Ryan Lowe’s side a deserved first-half lead.
While Blackpool didn’t quite hit the heights of their recent wins against Oxford United and Peterborough United, it looked as though they had done enough to claim another vital victory.
But Joe Edwards struck in the first minute of stoppage time to deny Neil Critchley’s side, who were pegged back at home late on once again.
Despite the late setback, Pool remain in sixth, having extended their unbeaten run to 11 games. They still haven’t tasted defeat at Bloomfield Road since October 20, either.
Nevertheless, Critchley and co will be disappointed not to get over the line on home turf, something that has become a recurring problem in recent weeks, drawing five of their last six home games.
There were doubts over the fitness of top goalscorer Jerry Yates coming into today’s game after the striker suffered a dead leg during Tuesday night’s 3-1 win over Peterborough United.
But the 24-year-old, who netted a brace during that game, was ruled fit as Neil Critchley named an unchanged side.
That meant Marvin Ekpiteta, James Husband, Kevin Stewart, Matty Virtue, Keshi Anderson, CJ Hamilton and Gary Madine all remain injured, while Dan Ballard is still away on international duty with Northern Ireland.
There was space on the bench for youngsters Cameron Antwi, Rob Apter and Ewan Bange, but Bez Lubala was still nowhere to be seen.
As for Plymouth, they named former Seasiders Will Aimson and Ryan Hardie in their starting XI as Ryan Lowe made two changes to the side that beat Bristol Rovers last week, ending a run of five straight defeats.
With so many players already missing, the last thing Blackpool needed was another knock, which they were fortunate to avoid early on when Sullay Kaikai crashed into the railings after a collision with Sam Woods.
The woodwork came to Pool’s rescue early on when Niall Ennis rolled his marker before firing low across Chris Maxwell, but the shot rebounded off the foot of the post before being scrambled away to safety.
Argyle were looking the stronger side early on and capitalised on their bright start after 12 minutes.
Hardie, who scored just once in 12 appearances during his short-lived spell at Bloomfield Road and never started a league game, came back to haunt the Seasiders with a goal against his former club.
It came after the striker had made a clever run down the channel before lifting the ball over Maxwell, who was stranded in no man’s land.
The ball fell kindly for strike partner for Ennis, who clattered the post for a second time. But Plymouth kept the ball alive and Hardie had the pretty simple task of sliding home from eight yards out.
The visitors continued to execute their game plan effectively, putting Pool high up the pitch and stopping them from playing it out from the back.
Hardie almost scored his second of the game from an Adam Lewis corner, but the striker’s header from within the six-yard box deflected just wide of the near post.
Having been second best by some margin in the opening half an hour, the Seasiders finally mustered an attempt of their own.
It came from Grant Ward, whose powerful long-range effort was pushed behind by Mike Cooper after space had opened up for the midfielder following Woods’ poor clearance.
Luke Garbutt played the following corner short, which was dummied into the path of Sullay Kaikai whose bobbled low effort was blocked on its way towards goal.
While Pool were coming back into the game, Plymouth still retained an attacking threat, with Conor Grant seeing a fierce drive well held by Maxwell after Kenny Dougall had given the ball away in a really poor area of the pitch.
Hardie caused plenty of problems for Jordan Thorniley with his pace, an avenue Plymouth looked to capitalise on again and again.
The striker waltzed past his marker on 37 minutes, before cutting back smartly and unleashing a curling effort with the outside of his boot, but it was a weak effort and Maxwell got down to make the save.
Given Thorniley’s struggles, it wasn’t a huge surprise to see the defender replaced at the break by the returning Daniel Gretarsson, making his first appearance since January 9.
Within two minutes of the restart, Blackpool had drawn themselves level.
It came after a low Demetri Mitchell shot had caused pinball in the Plymouth box, the ball falling into the path of Sullay Kaikai who turned the ball home for his fourth goal of the season.
Mitchell, who had been Blackpool’s biggest threat during their subdued first-half display, continued to cause Plymouth problems.
He cut inside from the right wing before unleashing a dipping, swerving effort which had Cooper scrambling, but it bounced just wide.
The visitors almost restored their lead with a chance out of nothing just before the hour mark when Grant rifled a long-range effort just wide.
Blackpool were given the chance to complete their turnaround on 64 minutes when they awarded a penalty.
Mitchell was adjudged to have been fouled by Adam Lewis after getting the wrong side of the Plymouth man. The winger made the most of the contact and appeared to be looking for the foul, but the referee was quick to point to the spot.
Fresh from his two-goal haul against Posh in midweek, one of which came from 12 yards, Yates stepped up and found the top corner for his 17th goal of the campaign.
The striker could have completed another brace after being set free down the left after forcing a Plymouth mistake, but Yates could only fire over.
The Seasiders were denied a second penalty moments later when the marauding Jordan Gabriel was poleaxed inside the box, but the referee ignored the appeals before Grant Ward had a powerful shot well saved.
Pool continued to press high, forcing mistakes from the Plymouth defenders which led to two or three promising openings, but they were opportunities the hosts squandered.
Blackpool looked to be seeing out the game to claim their third straight victory, but just as the fourth official indicated six minutes of added time, Plymouth struck back.
Joe Edwards was the man to draw Plymouth level, firing a first-time volley beyond Maxwell and into the bottom corner.
Blackpool: Maxwell, Gabriel, Turton, Thorniley (Gretarsson), Garbutt, Dougall, Ward, Mitchell, Embleton (Robson), Kaikai, Yates
Subs not used: Moore, Antwi, Apter, Bange, Simms
Plymouth: Cooper, Aimson, Fornah, Lewis (Jephcott), Edwards, Woods, Camara (Moore), Grant, Mayor, Ennis, Hardie (Lolos)
Subs not used: McCormick, Reeves, MacLeod, Tomlinson
Referee: Carl Brook
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