Middlesbrough 1-2 Blackpool: Seasiders fight back from contentious goal to record richly deserved second win of the season
Blackpool came from a goal down to beat Middlesbrough and record a richly deserved second win of the season.
An own goal 14 minutes from time from former Blackpool loanee Grant Hall sent the points back to the Fylde coast, as Pool won away for the first time this season.
Marvin Ekpiteta had levelled earlier in the second-half after the Seasiders were forced to fight back from a contentious Middlesbrough goal.
Neil Warnock’s men took the lead after just 11 minutes, when Marcus Tavernier forced the ball home from close range.
Referee David Webb and his linesman missed a clear offside in the build-up though, Lee Peltier’s headed flick-on going completely unnoticed.
Thankfully it didn’t affect the final result, as the Seasiders held on for a crucial three points that sees them move up to 20th, two points clear of the bottom three.
Neil Critchley opted to make two changes to the side that suffered a harsh 3-0 defeat to Huddersfield Town in midweek.
Jerry Yates, who has yet to score from open play this season, was dropped to the bench alongside Jordan Gabriel.
Dujon Sterling and Keshi Anderson were the two to come into the starting XI, the former making his first start for the club.
Demetri Mitchell was fit enough to travel with the squad having returned to training this week following a six-week lay-off with a knee injury, but he wasn’t named in the 18.
Kevin Stewart, meanwhile, was another notable absentee from the match-day squad.
The midfielder was an unused substitute on Tuesday night, having starred in last week’s 1-0 win against Fulham.
Matty Virtue (ACL), Grant Ward (achilles), Owen Dale (foot) and CJ Hamilton (foot) all remain sidelined.
Teddy Howe, Oliver Sarkic, Bez Lubala and Joe Nuttall, meanwhile, continue to be left out having not been registered in Blackpool’s squad.
As for Middlesbrough, they named an unchanged side from their 2-0 win against Nottingham Forest on Wednesday night - a result that spelled the end for Forest boss Chris Hughton, who was sacked the following morning.
Former Seasiders Joe Lumley and Grant Hall started, while Uche Ikpeazu was named among the substitutes. Marc Bola, subject to a recent FA charge, was sidelined through injury.
Debutant Sterling had a bit of a nervy start up against the tricky Onel Hernandez, who caused him one or two problems inside the opening minutes.
The Chelsea loanee settled down though, getting forward well to provide an attacking outlet a few moments later only for his cross to evade everyone in the Boro box.
On the 11-minute mark, the Seasiders found themselves going a goal down in highly contentious circumstances.
A short corner was crossed into the box by Boro’s James Lea Siliki. The cross reached Dael Fry, who initially sprung the offside trap.
However, before the cross reaches him, the ball is flicked on by Lee Peltier, a key touch that was clearly missed by referee David Webb.
With play allowed to continue, Fry had the fairly simple task of playing the ball across the face of goal for Marcus Tavernier to tap home into the empty net.
Pool appealed desperately with the referee and the linesmen, but they fell on deaf ears and the goal stood.
Critchley’s side could and probably should have levelled matters within the space of just three minutes, when Tyreece John-Jules missed a glaring opportunity.
It came after Ryan Wintle’s left-wing cross was inadvertently flicked on by a Boro defender, gifting the ball to the unmarked John-Jules.
The forward initially showed good composure to control the ball and cut inside his man, but his finish was anything but composed as he blazed well over from barely 12 yards out.
This sparked a spell of pressure from the home side, who almost doubled their lead when Andraz Sporar clipped the top of the crossbar from Tavernier’s pullback.
Boro continued to press well, forcing Pool into some needless mistakes in some dangerous areas of the pitch.
Sporar thought he had beaten the offside trap to latch onto a long ball over the top, but on this occasion the linesman’s flag did go up.
In any case, Marvin Ekpiteta recovered to clear after Sporar had lobbed the ball over Chris Maxwell.
The game entered into a bit of a lull at this stage, although Ryan Wintle did volley a fairly weak effort two or three yards wide of Lumley’s goal.
Pool wasted another good chance to equalise in the first minute of first-half stoppage time.
John-Jules, who endured a frustrating opening period, was involved again, initially doing well to run free to create space for himself from a Pool corner.
Luke Garbutt did well to pick him out, but John-Jules opted to control the ball rather than hit it first-time, which is what the pass was screaming out for.
The forward’s control let him down, but the ball did bobble up - somewhat awkwardly - for Shayne Lavery, but the Northern Irishman was off balance and could only fire over.
Pool started the second-half brightly, showing more intent to get forward and attack.
Dujon Sterling delivered a threatening ball in from the right, which John-Jules headed wide at full stretch.
Just before the hour-mark, Pool were so unfortunate not to equalise when Lavery was denied by the woodwork.
Pool worked a short corner to Garbutt, whose cross was spilled by Lumley into the path of Lavery, who toe-poked a low effort towards the unguarded goal, only for the striker’s effort to hit the outside of the post.
With momentum on their side, it was absolutely vital that Blackpool capitalised and got themselves back on level terms.
That’s exactly what they did in the 62nd minute, as Marvin Ekpiteta fired home his first goal of the season.
It was a well-worked goal from the Seasiders, whose two centre-backs combined to draw Critchley’s men level.
Richard Keogh clipped a delicious ball into the feet of Ekpiteta, who used his height and strength to good affect to hold the ball up and turn his man, before beating Lumley all ends up.
The goal sparked wild scenes in the away end, as Blackpool’s estimated 1,200 fans went wild.
Pool were thankful for an important Maxwell save to keep them level a few moments later when Sporar looked to beat him at his near post having beaten Keogh for pace in the channel.
With 20 minutes left on the clock, Critchley made his first move off the bench - introducing Gary Madine for John-Jules.
With just 12 minutes remaining, Pool got the goal they were craving to deservedly take the lead.
It’s fair to say they knew little about it though (who cares?!) as Garbutt’s corner hit the head of former Seasider Grant Hall and inadvertently rocketed into the bottom corner.
Pool’s lead was almost wiped out three minutes later when Boro substitute Martin Payero curled an effort against the bar from the edge of the Pool box.
The visitors posed a huge threat on the break in the dying stages as Middlesbrough piled men forward.
Lavery ought to have done better with one counter. Space opened up for the Northern Irishman, but he opted to delay and the chance went to waste.
It proved to be the striker’s final action of the game, as he was replaced by Jerry Yates a minute later.
Boro, meanwhile, introduced another former Pool man in the form of Uche Ikpeazu, who came on for the final three minutes.
Payero peppered the Blackpool goal again in the first minute of six added on at the end of the 90, but Maxwell was equal to his low effort.
Play ended up continuing until the 99th minute, as a Boro man went down complaining of injury. But the win was never in doubt and the referee’s final whistle was met by jubilant scenes in the away end.
Middlesbrough: Lumley, Dijksteel (Jones), Hall, Peltier, Fry, Howson (Ikpeazu), Siliki (Payero), Crooks, Tavernier, Sporar, Hernandez
Subs not used: Daniels, Bamba, Olusanya, Watmore
Blackpool: Maxwell, Sterling, Keogh, Ekpiteta, Garbutt, Dougall, Wintle, Bowler (Gabriel), Anderson, John-Jules (Madine), Lavery (Yates)
Subs not used: Grimshaw, Connolly, Husband, Carey
Referee: David Webb
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