Tranmere Rovers 1-1 Blackpool: Prenton Park hoodoo continues as Pool battle to ugly draw in final game of 2019
Blackpool are still without a win at Prenton Park since 1978 as they could only battle their way to a draw against Tranmere Rovers in their final game of the year.
Blackpool are still without a win at Prenton Park since 1978 as they could only battle their way to a draw against Tranmere Rovers in their final game of 2019.
The Seasiders have now failed to taste victory in 19 attempts in Birkenhead despite taking an early lead through Ben Heneghan’s scruffy early effort in this scrappy encounter.
Simon Grayson’s men were pegged back just before the break through Morgan Ferrier’s clever turn and finish.
Both sides had chances to snatch the win in the second half but Pool were eventually forced to settle for a point that does at least bring an end to their back-to-back defeats.
In the absence of injured goalkeeper Jak Alnwick, Mark Howard was brought back into the fold for his first league start since March.
The 33-year-old was one of four changes from the side that started the Boxing Day defeat to Accrington Stanley.
Jordan Thompson, Sullay Kaikai and Nathan Delfouneso all dropped down to the bench, with Matty Virtue, Callum Guy and Joe Nuttall all being brought into the starting line-up.
New signing Grant Ward travelled with the squad but wasn’t unavailable, yet the 25-year-old could be considered for selection for the trip to Rotherham United on New Year’s Day.
Any notion of playing passing football was rendered pointless given the boggy Prenton Park pitch, which would have rivalled those we witnessed at Bloomfield Road down the years.
It made set pieces vitally important and that’s exactly how Tranmere threatened early on, defender Manny Monthe heading just over from a corner.
Pool responded with a header of their own, goalkeeper Aaron Chapman plucking Armand Gnanduillet’s looping effort out of the sky after the striker latched onto James Husband’s centre.
With just nine minutes on the clock, the Seasiders broke the deadlock in extremely scrappy fashion.
The ball ricocheted into the back of the net from Liam Feeney’s cross, going through the legs of Chapman after seemingly taking a touch off a Tranmere player despite Matty Virtue wheeling away in celebration.
Ben Heneghan, who won the initial header at the back post to send the ball into the danger area, was credited with the goal.
Grayson’s men went in search of a second just a few minutes later and almost got one following a break down Tranmere’s right.
Liam Feeney delivered a vicious ball into the danger area which Joe Nuttall almost reached, only for the home defence to scramble clear.
The encounter continued to be an ugly, scrappy one, with the referee signalling for a number of free-kicks and stoppages.
The home side, knowing how difficult it is to get the ball down and pass it on their troublesome surface, continued to play for free kicks in and around the Blackpool box - but their final ball was found wanting, much to the frustration of the home faithful.
The Tranmere players surrounded the referee on two separate occasions in an attempt to get Blackpool players sent off.
But the referee ignored their desperate appeals, instead dishing out yellows to both James Husband and Ryan Edwards.
Tranmere were almost presented with a golden opportunity to level matters four minutes before the break when former Neil Danns slammed a low shot towards goal that almost fell at the feet of teammate Morgan Ferrier, but Pool managed to clear their lines before the striker could get a shot off at goal.
Ferrier wasn’t to be denied two minutes later though, as he turned Ben Heneghan too easily before beating Mark Howard with a low effort into the far corner to make it 1-1.
It was a goal out of nothing for the home side who had previously offered little despite playing the conditions better.
Pool almost complained of a foul on Joe Nuttall in the build-up which was ignored by the man in black.
The first sight of goal for either side at the start of the second half came the way of Tranmere, as Kieron Morris dragged a low shot just wide of the near post.
The game soon opened up, with both sides exchanging good opportunities to take the lead.
Liam Feeney wasted a good chance on the break, seeing a long-range shot blocked after delaying his effort.
Callum Guy then struck a sweet effort at goal after the ball fell for him kindly on the edge of the box, but Chapman did well to claim.
Pool kept their foot on the gas, Nuttall seeing his back-post header tipped over for a corner before Gnanduillet saw a shot charged down from the resulting delivery.
The chances kept coming their way, Gnanduillet seeing his powerful shot charged down after being fed by Virtue.
Grayson rolled the decide with 20 minutes remaining, introducing Kaikai and Delfouneso in place of Gnanduillet and Feeney.
With little over 10 minutes remaining, Tranmere dealt Pool a warning when Corey Blackett-Taylor fizzed a dangerous ball across the face of Howard’s six-yard box.
Pool had Howard to thank two minutes before the final whistle after the keeper made a superb flying stop to save Connor Jennings’ volley.
Tranmere: Chapman, Caprice, Woods, Nelson, Monthe, Blackett-Taylor, Morris, Danns, Perkins, Jennings, Ferrier
Subs not used: Pilling, Ray, Potter, Hepburn-Murphy, Ponticelli, Mullin, Payne
Blackpool: Howard, Turton, Edwards, Heneghan, Husband, Spearing, Virtue, Guy, Feeney (Delfouneso), Nuttall, Gnanduillet (Kaikai)
Subs not used: Sims, Tilt, Macdonald, Thompson, Hardie
Referee: Tom Nield
Attendance: 8,487 (1,667 Blackpool)