Honours even in celebration clash
Barnsley 1 (Davies 14)
Blackpool 1 (Ince 30)
The honours were even at Oakwell in this celebration match that certainly lived up to the anticipation. Craig Davies’ 14th minute opener was cancelled out by Tom Ince on the half-hour mark in a cracking contest under the September sun.
It wasn’t long before John Stones was up to his usual trick of finding a great position down the right flank and delivering an expert ball into the box for Dagnall. The Reds forward forced Gilks into a remarkable save to his left on two minutes and Davies was denied by the flag on the follow-up.
Two minutes later Matt Phillips blasted straight at Alnwick from distance before his namesake Kevin squeezed a shot through a body of players only for Alnwick to be in the right place once more.
The Reds’ ‘keeper’s hands were really tested by a stinging shot from Baptiste but it was Barnsley who next threatened and subsequently found the lead.
Mellis bombed forward and sent through an exquisite through-ball for Davies who absolutely lashed a strike into the far corner past a helpless Gilks on 14 minutes.
The wind was now in the sails of Barnsley and Dagnall thought he was in just moments later when Mellis dinked forward a lovely ball but Eardley appeared from nowhere with a fine last-ditch tackle.
When it seemed to quieten down, Blackpool came right out of the blue with a deadly through-ball into the path of Ince who made no mistake when one-on-one with Alnwick on half-an-hour. It wasn’t a bad shut-out though from the Reds, with this goal having taken four hours of football to arrive against Hill’s men at home.
The end of the first-half petered out slightly but both teams were playing neat football when given the chance.
It took eight minutes until the second half saw its first shot and it was a great effort from Davies on his left foot. He did well to keep a Mellis free-kick alive and cut onto his left boot before curling towards the far stick for Gilks to deny the big forward.
Into the hour mark and the match was really stretched – from end to end with both sets of fans in full voice. Blackpool sent on Osbourne in place of Martinez for the first chance of the match.
Kevin Phillips tried his luck from an acute angle with a wicked free-kick that just drifted wide. Harewood and Done were introduced for Davies and Dagnall who had both worked tremendously hard up front.
Blackpool thought they had found a second, and they probably should have, but for a great block by Stones and a wonderful save from Alnwick to deny Gomes.
Ince was in on 87 minutes after some great footwork down the left, but Alnwick came to the rescue with a smart, low save to his right.
In the last-minute Alnwick was again the hero when Sylvestre struck well down the middle and the former Spurs man tipped over with his fingertips.
Three minutes of stoppage time was added, and just as the board went up Kelvin Etuhu came on for Mellis who’d had a great game in the middle of the park. Phillips tried his luck from distance but Alnwick had it easily covered.
A draw was probably a fair result and a very good one for the Reds who remain unbeaten at home so far this season.
Fourth Official: Richard Wigglesworth
Assistant Referees: Mark Jones and Iain Siddall
Referee: Andy Woolmer
Subs: Halstead, Cathcart, Dicko, Eccleston.
Blackpool: Gilks, Eardley, Evatt, M. Phillips, K, Phillips (Delfouneso 75), Ince, Taylor-Fletcher (Gomes 68), Sylvestre, Baptiste, Martinez (Osbourne 60), Harris.
Subs: Steele, Collins, Perkins, Noble-Lazarus.
Reds: Alnwick, Stones, Foster, Golbourne, Wiseman, Dawson, Cranie, Cywka, Dagnall (Done 68), Mellis (Etuhu 90+1), Davies (Harewood 68).