Memory Match: Port Vale 1-2 Blackpool, 2005
Blackpool FC writer Matt Scrafton trawls through the archives to look back at the Seasiders' 2-1 win at Port Vale on Boxing Day 2005.
Keigan Parker made one goal and scored the other as Blackpool moved out of the relegation zone with a Boxing Day triumph at Port Vale after six games without a win.
The Scottish livewire produced a man of the match display to top an industrious all-round performance by Simon Grayson’s improving team.
Parker was a constant thorn in Vale’s side and provided the spark as two goals in three early second-half minutes proved decisive.
Grayson made one change from the draw at Swindon, with Simon Wiles replacing Ian Morris, who had returned to Leeds after the completion of his spell on loan.
Injury-hit Vale had slid from the play-off positions to 16th place with a run of just four points from seven league games prior to the festive fixture.
Vale were first to threaten in the third minute, when Keith Southern’s sloppy pass to Darren Warrender led to Tony Dinning firing narrowly wide of Lee Jones’ left-hand post.
And the Blackpool midfield failed to track Dinning again shortly afterwards, with the home skipper this time snatching at his effort which soared too high.
The Tangerines were slow to click into gear before an excellent challenge from George Pilkington shut out Parker from Southern’s pass.
It was the signal for the visitors to up their game and Southern was the supplier again as Warrender shot wide when well placed in the 13th minute.
John Doolan’s fierce drive from 30 yards then forced Mark Goodlad to make the first save of the contest, turning the ball away for a corner as he dived low to his right.
Grayson’s men were now beginning to relish the task as Parker and Southern hounded Craig James into a mistake before Pilkington hacked the ball to safety.
The home side were reduced to playing the long ball game, but Pool skipper Peter Clarke and Tony Butler, both former Vale players, coped with some comfort against Leon Constantine and Nathan Lowndes.
Vale, spurred into action by the moans of their unhappy fans, started to play with more tenacity and had the ball in the net from a 31st-minute corner.
James prodded the ball in at the far post from a right-wing delivery by Mark Innes but the whistle had already been blown for a foul on Jones by Lowndes.
Constantine then miscued when well placed 20 yards from goal, with the match now delicately poised and both sides giving their all.
A misplaced back-pass from George Abbey almost let in John Murphy before Wiles cut in from the left to hammer too high from distance.
And Blackpool failed to capitalise a minute from the end of a hard-fought first half as Murphy flicked Parker’s corner across the six-yard box before Vale cleared their lines.
The Tangerines began the second half kicking towards almost 600 travelling fans, who almost had something to sing about within seconds of the resumption.
Southern escaped unmarked at the edge of the Vale penalty area and bent a right-foot shot not far beyond the stranded Goodlad’s left-hand post.
The visiting contingent didn’t have to wait long for the opener, however, with Wiles netting his third goal of the season in the 52nd minute.
Doolan won a strong challenge in the middle of the park and released Parker, who sprinted away down the right flank. He played a low ball across the danger area and Wiles, steaming in at the far post, buried a low shot inside Goodlad’s near post from 10 yards.
Blackpool doubled their advantage just two minutes later, when the elusive Parker fastened onto a lofted pass from Jason Wilcox. Goodlad raced from his line but Parker got there first to hoist a perfectly-placed lob high into the net.
The Tangerines’ defence, which had not been seriously troubled all afternoon, just needed to retain their concentration to secure what should have been three comfortable points.
But a rash challenge by Wilcox on Chris Birchall, with both players booked in the aftermath, resulted in Vale reducing the arrears within four minutes.
James curled in a dangerous free-kick from the right flank and the ball fell kindly for Clayton Fortune, who struck a well-placed shot into the roof of the net from 12 yards.
The Vale fans, who had started to launch fierce criticism at Martin Foyle’s team beforehand, then started to get behind the players as they sensed a comeback.
Blackpool’s rearguard began to look uneasy for the first time all afternoon and it needed a terrific save from Jones to prevent a 72nd-minute equaliser.
Dinning slipped past Warrender to bend over a far-post cross from the left and Jones reacted brilliantly to tip over Birchall’s meaty header from six yards.
At that stage it looked as though the Tangerines would have to face a late onslaught, but that never materialised and Jones was forced into no more than routine action thereafter.
In fact, Blackpool had the better chances to extend their lead as Parker floated a couple of teasing centres across Vale’s six-yard box and substitute Tommy Wright drew a diving stop from Goodlad.
Lewis Gobern replaced the tiring Wiles to beef up the midfield late on, and by the final whistle there could be no doubt that Blackpool’s second away win of the season had been thoroughly deserved.
Port Vale: Goodlad, Abbey (Cardle), James, Fortune, Pilkington, Innes, Togwell, Birchall, Dinning, Constantine, Lowndes (Husbands)
Unused subs: Brain, Bell, Holmes
Blackpool: Jones, McGregor, Warrender, Clarke, Butler, Doolan (Donnelly), Southern, Wilcox, Wiles (Gobern), Murphy (Wright), Parker
Unused subs: Pogliacomi, Edwards