Saturday, 12 February 2011

Blackpool 1 - 1 Aston Villa

Blackpool ended a run of five straight Premier League defeats with a deserved draw at home to Aston Villa.
Gabriel Agbonlahor put Villa head, finishing a blistering break by taking the ball around keeper Richard Kingson before shooting from a tight angle.
Elliott Grandin equalised for Blackpool with a near-post header from a corner, before Kingson denied Stewart Downing.
Jean Makoun was dismissed for a late tackle on DJ Campbell after the break, while Ashley Young shot wide late on.
Ian Holloway's Tangerines had lost seven of their previous eight fixtures, with their only top-flight triumph this year a 2-1 victory over Liverpool on 12 January.
That run of form had seen them slip to a season-low of 15th going into the contest, just two points above the relegation zone.
And some of their defending on Saturday afternoon was hesitant and uncertain but they improved through the match and can take confidence from a performance of great commitment against an improving Villa.
Gerard Houllier's team arrived at Bloomfield Road with just one defeat in their last seven fixtures in all competitions.
With England's midweek goalscoring duo of Darren Bent and Young in their ranks, they showed glimpses of the blistering attacking football of which they are capable.
There was a succession of early chances and Villa almost scored in the opening minute but Bent's strike was blocked by Ian Evatt.
The veteran defender was not so fortunate when Agbonlahor did put the visiting side in front at the end of a swift and precise counter attack.
Makoun won the ball in midfield and played in Bent, who immediately picked out the goalscorer. Agbonlahor charged towards goal and took the ball around Kingson before shooting between the legs of the despairing Evatt and into an empty net.
Sian Massey was the referee assistant who adjudged Agbonlahor was on-side as he collected Bent's pass. It was the first time she officiated in a Premier League fixture since the furore erupted about comments made by Andy Gray and Richard Keys.
Agbonlahor's opener was the 50th goal conceded by Blackpool in the league this season but they were only behind for four minutes before atrocious marking allowed Grandin, who limped off injured before the break, to convert Charlie Adam's corner at the near post.
Luke Varney should have put Holloway's team in front after a superb curling cross from Marlon Harewood but the striker headed wide.
Chances were flowing at either end and it took a good save from Kingson to prevent Downing from restoring Villa's lead with a low shot after the winger had been played through on goal.
Varney could not quite connect with a cross-cum-shot by Campbell, who was later inches away from converting a teasing Adam cross, while Downing shot wide from Villa - but both sides tightened up considerably and the opening half rather faded out.
The Tangerines took the contest to their opponents after the restart. Richard Dunne made a crucial tackle to dispossess Campbell, who later shot wide from a drilled Varney cross.
Varney shot over after Villa failed to clear a corner and substitute Jason Puncheon volleyed narrowly wide from 18 yards.
Blackpool's prospects increased when Makoun was immediately dismissed after a late challenge on Campbell.
Houllier brought on US international Michael Bradley for his debut to bolster the midfield and it was Villa who came the closest to a winner.
Villa failed in a penalty appeal after Alaex Baptiste tangled with Young, who then snatched a shot wide with virtually the last kick of the game.

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