MATCH REPORT: Blackpool 2-2 Walsall

Nathan Delfouneso celebrates drawing Blackpool level in the first half
Nathan Delfouneso celebrates drawing Blackpool level in the first half
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Armand Gnanduillet came off the bench to rescue Blackpool with a late goal to earn a 2-2 draw with Walsall that does little to ease their relegation fears.

Walsall thought they had won it when Jon Guthrie capitalised on some horror defending to put his side 2-1 ahead with 15 minutes to go.

But Gnanduillet, who replaced Kyle Vassell with 20 minutes remaining, latched onto a ball from fellow substitute Dan Agyei before coolly slotting home in the 89th minute.

Joe Edwards had earlier given the Saddlers the lead in an entertaining first half, only for Nathan Delfouneso to draw Blackpool level.

The Seasiders almost won it in the most dramatic of circumstances in injury time when Clark Robertson stabbed home from close range, but Walsall cleared off their line for the third time.

Although it could prove to be a vital point come the end of the season, Blackpool’s failure to win means they are now without a win in their last nine games at Bloomfield Road - a winless run that goes back to October.

They are now just two points ahead of the League One dropzone and face league leaders Wigan Athletic on Tuesday.
A pitch inspection was held for the second home game running. But unlike two weeks ago, when Pool’s game against Charlton Athletic was called off for a waterlogged pitch, referee Scott Duncan was happy to go ahead with the game.

Gary Bowyer named an unchanged line-up from their last fixture, the disappointing 1-1 draw against Bury last week.

The Seasiders made a bright start to the game and came close after just two minutes, when Nathan Delfouneso fired a dangerous ball across the face of goal which just evaded the onrushing Kyle Vassell.

Walsall’s first venture forwards saw Joe Edwards try his luck from outside the box, but his curling effort cleared Joe Lumley’s crossbar by a couple of yards.

Pool kept up the pressure on the Walsall goal in the early stages and came close with another opening.

Jay Spearing’s corner found Curtis Tilt at the back post and the defender sent a looping header across goal only to see his effort cleared off the line by retreating defender Jon Guthrie.

Delfouneso showed good determination to win a couple of headers in Walsall’s final third, allowing Vassell to get a volley in on the turn which flew just over.

Sean Longstaff, who scored with a long-range stunner at Bury last week, tried his luck again from range but this time he shot just wide with his 30-yard effort.

Walsall grew into the game as the first half wore on and they took the lead just before the half hour mark, capitalising on some hesitant Blackpool defending.

Kieron Morris was allowed too much space to run into down the right-hand side and his pullback found the unmarked Joe Edwards, who made no mistake side footing home from eight yards out.

The visitors almost doubled their lead shortly afterwards when Guthrie headed across goal but no Walsall player was there to steer home from close range.

The Seasiders created a good opportunity to immediately draw level when the ball fell to Callum Cooke inside the box but he volleyed well over with an instant hit.

But Pool did get back on level terms on 38 minutes thanks to a well-taken finish from Delfouneso.

Cooke found the forward in space inside the box with a clever pass, which Delfouneso controlled, before turning his man and slotting home into the bottom corner.

After Pool had tried so hard to draw level, they almost found themselves a goal down again on the stroke of half time when Morris went close with a brilliant effort that missed the top corner by a whisker, with Lumley well beaten.

After an opening period full of goalmouth action, the second half got off to a quiet start.

The first chance came Blackpool’s way as Longstaff tried his luck from Longstaff once again, but this time he sent his effort a couple of yards wide.

The Seasiders came a whisker away from taking the lead on the hour marke when Longstaff’s curling effort missed the far post by a matter of inches.

It came after Curtis Tilt’s header appeared to be handled inside the box by a Walsall defender, but the referee remained unmoved.

The Walsall fans started to become increasingly frustrated with their team as they continued to get themselves into some good attacking positions only to lack that final ball.

Solomon-Otabor had been a threat going forwards all afternoon, but put Blackpool under pressure on a couple of occasions needlessly giving the ball away deep in Pool’s own half. Fortunately, on both occasions, the hosts were let off the hook.

But the winger remained a danger in the other half and he did well to find Callum Cooke in space down the left-hand side but he couldn’t find a teammate with his cross.

Former Walsall loanee Dan Agyei, who replaced Kyle Vassell with 20 minutes to go, almost made an instant impact on his home debut as he brought out a great save from Liam Roberts with a rasping drive.

Walsall retook the lead with 15 minutes to go and again, from Blackpool’s point of view, it came from a woeful piece of defending.

A poor corner only found Ollie Turton at the front post but the Blackpool defender made a total hash of his clearance, deflecting it to Guthrie at the back post who tapped into an empty net.

Joe Lumley led the appeals from the Blackpool players but it wasn’t entirely clear what they felt was wrong with the goal.

Pool thought they had levelled for the second time when substitute Armand Gnanduillet sent a looping header over the keeper but they were thwarted on the line once again, Jack Fitzwater this time hooking clear.

But Pool did eventually find that equaliser a minute from time, Gnanduillet being sent through on goal by fellow sub Agyei before finishing coolly into the bottom corner.

Blackpool almost won it in the final minute of stoppage time when Jay Spearing’s free kick caused havoc in the Walsall box. Clark Robertson stabbed towards goal at the back post but Walsall cleared off their own line for a third time.

Blackpool: Lumley, Mellor, Tilt, Robertson, Turton (Philliskirk), Spearing, Cooke (Gnanduillet), Longstaff, Solomon-Otabor, Delfouneso, Vassell (Agyei)

Subs not used: Mafoumbi, Aimson, Ryan, D’Almeida

Walsall: L Roberts, Kinsella, Fitzwater, Guthrie, Leahy, Chambers, Edwards, Dobson, Morris (K Roberts), Bakayoko (Shaibu), Ngoy (Oztumer)

Subs not used: Gillespie, Cuvelier, Flanagan, Kouhyar

Referee: Scott Duncan

Attendance: 3,404 (625 Walsall)