Rochdale 2-1 Blackpool: Last-ditch goal cruelly denies 10-man Seasiders a point
An 89th-minute goal cruelly denied brave 10-man Blackpool what would have been a deserved point in their Boxing Day clash against Rochdale.
The Seasiders were forced to play more than an hour with 10 men thanks to Jordan Thompson’s straight red, which came after Dale had already taken the lead against the run of play.
But Pool levelled things immediately through Michael Nottingham and appeared to have held on during the second half thanks to some heroic defending.
But that all ended one minute from normal time when Ian Henderson won it for the home side with a decisive late goal, despite Pool’s appeals for offside.
It means Blackpool have now lost three on the spin and lose further ground on the League One play-offs.
Pool were dealt a blow ahead of the game with the news that Donervon Daniels had joined Curtis Tilt and Ollie Turton on the sidelines.
It saw Pool revert to a back four, with Paudie O’Connor coming in to partner Ben Heneghan in the centre of defence to make his first league start since August.
Harry Pritchard and John O'Sullivan dropped out of the team that lost 1-0 against Barnsley last Saturday, with Michael Nottingham, Callum Guy and Nathan Delfouneso joining O'Connor in coming into the line-up.
Joe Dodoo and Mark Cullen remain out injured.
With so many key defenders unavailable, it was perhaps not a huge surprise to see the Seasiders struggle at the back early on.
The home side got in behind the full backs on a couple of occasions inside the opening five minutes, but Pool managed to clear their lines thanks to some desperate, last-ditch defending.
But it was Blackpool who forced the first clear opening of the afternoon and it was a good one, too.
Marc Bola was set free down the left as Pool countered, and his cross from the left was fumbled by Dale keeper Brendan Moore straight to Armand Gnanduillet who could only fire wide.
The striker, Pool’s top scorer, again failed to hit the target three minutes later when he fired well over from Michael Nottingham’s pullback.
But, while Pool looked a huge threat on the break, they were certainly looking vulnerable at the other end.
And so it proved on 20 minutes, as Ollie Rathbone slotted home to give the home side the lead. It came after the goalscorer had set Ian Henderson free, he squared to Matthew Gillam whose close-range shot was saved by the legs of Mark Howard, but Rathbone made no mistake on the rebound.
As disappointing a goal as it was for Blackpool to concede, they came within a whisker of forcing an instant leveller with Jordan Thompson hitting the foot of the post with a curling effort from the edge of the box.
Pool’s frustrations were only worsened when they were denied a blatant penalty when Gnanduillet was flattened by Moore after beating the Dale keeper to the ball.
But the referee remained unmoved, leading to Pool boss Terry McPhillips screaming “we need the video” to the fourth official.
Things went from bad to worse for the Seasiders when they were reduced to 10 men just before the half-hour mark, with Thompson the man to be shown a straight red.
The midfielder reacted badly, appearing to headbutt Callum Camps in the chest after being angered by an apparent stamp by the Rochdale, player, who only received a booking.
Being both a goal and a man down could have easily been curtains for Pool, but the decision only served to hand them extra motivation - and five minutes later they managed to haul themselves level.
It came after some superb work by Gnanduillet, who won the ball back on the corner of the box before laying it off to Michael Nottingham who produced a clinical finish into the bottom corner - his first league goal for the club.
At the other end, Howard did well to hold onto Rathbone’s dangerous low drive to stop the home side retaking the lead.
Howard made a second good save shortly after, denying Henderson after the Dale forward had got in behind Pool’s backline too easily thanks to Ben Heneghan’s poor clearance.
As to be expected with 10 men, Pool found themselves under cosh at the beginning of the second half and almost fell behind for a second time as substitute Kgosi Nthle rattled the woodwork with a rasping 25-yard drive.
Rochdale would have got their noses back in front on the hour mark were it not for Howard, who made another superb stop to claw Camps’ dipping volley away from the top corner.
Nthle again came close for the hosts, heading wastefully wide having jumped highest from one of several second-half corners.
Howard produced yet another vital reaction stop to deny MJ Williams, who fired a rasping drive across the face of goal.
Nottingham was then forced to clear off the goalline from Camps’ low drive which looked destined for the bottom corner as Pool desperately looked to cling on.
Another Camp effort whistled past the post with the aid of a deflection with seven minutes left on the clock.
The Rochdale onslaught continued into the dying moments as Joe Rafferty curled one inches wide of Howard’s near post.
Blackpool’s resistance was finally broken in the 89th minute as Henderson ignored the appeals for offside to slip the ball under Howard and win it right at the death for the hosts.
Rochdale: Moore, Rafferty, Delaney, Williams, Camps, Williams (Andrew), Rathbone, Done, Adshead (Inman), Gillam (Ntlhe, Henderson
Subs not used: Lillis, McNulty, McGahey, Perkins
Blackpool: Howard, Nottingham, Heneghan, O'Connor, Bola, Spearing, Guy (Bunney), Thompson, Feeney (Pritchard), Delfouneso (O'Sullivan) Gnanduillet
Subs not used: Boney, McLaughlin, Taylor, Davies
Referee: Thomas Bramall
Attendance: 4,006 (740 Blackpool)