Blackpool squeeze past Bolton to keep their hopes of survival alive

If the sound of Ian Holloway's Bristol brogue is to be lost next season from the arenas of the Premier League it is certainly not fading quietly. In a match that reminded anyone here why kids start loving the game and grow up to continue loving it, Blackpool emerged the victors to keep alive their hopes of survival ahead of the visit to the champions, Manchester United, next Sunday.

With Wolves joining Blackburn on 40 points and these clubs facing each other on the final day, Blackpool, who are a further point back, know that victory at Old Trafford would probably allow them to escape the drop.

Holloway offered the following analysis: "Blow me down with this fairytale we're on – the story that has been unfolding the past two years, we've got to go to Man United and get a win. I've had some strange things happen in my life and maybe the main man up there has written a story that will probably beat Cinderella and I believe we can do it.

"Whoever they put out I want to spoil their party. If we get to 42 points, which could be possible, which is a lot more than 10 as our fans were singing, I believe that will be enough.

"What a wonderful, wonderful opportunity – I've been there myself and won 4-1 [playing for QPR on New Year's Day 1992 in the old First Division] and we need a day like that I think. Can I see that happening again? Who knows?"

A barnstorming opening half on a blustery day contained five goals and had Blackpool walking off for the break ahead, despite falling behind to Kevin Davies's toe-poke on six minutes. This setback only rocked Blackpool into action.

Three minutes later Gary Taylor-Fletcher's header was anticipated by DJ Campbell, who flipped a sweet lob up and over Jussi Jaaskelainen. Then Jason Puncheon took the Seasiders into the lead with a left-foot drive that had him crashing to the floor as the ball smacked into the visitors' net.

Five minutes later, 2-1 became 2-2. Daniel Sturridge's shot was repelled by Neal Eardley and when Matthew Taylor collected the winger's connection left Matthew Gilks with no chance.

For Holloway and his gang not to be ahead felt a little unfair. So when Charlie Adam swung in a ball from wide left that removed Zat Knight and allowed Campbell to apply a touch to nudge Blackpool back into the lead, the scales had been tipped back the right way.

The second half began as a reversal of this fortune before Holloway's pack of jokers again gained the ascendancy. Bolton had arrived here having lost their previous three outings, a pattern Owen Coyle knew he had to halt if a promising first full season in charge was not to sour at the close.

His band hurtled into action after the restart with an intent that allowed them to equalise after eight minutes. Sturridge's pass to Davies was turned out to the right, where Lee Chung-yong slid a short ball across the area for the on-loan Chelsea man to finish what he had started.

With Bolton pin-balling possession around, the Tangerine dreamscape looked like falling into the permanent darkness of Championship football next season. But up stepped Adam, not for the first occasion this campaign.

Neal Southern won a vital tussle in midfield and when the captain received possession he fed Taylor-Fletcher, who returned it to him. The Scot's left foot went through the ball and with it Blackpool were heading for the delirium of maximum points.

If they do stay up next week expect this town of donkeys, chips, ballroom dancing, pink rock and the big Tower to be party central for a few raucous days.


JACK GAUGHAN, Today we were superb, we couldn't be faulted. We defended as a unit and we looked like the team from the first half of the season. It's going to be difficult to beat Man United next week but we will have to win to stay up. We can do that but it is a tall order at the moment.

The fan's player ratings Gilks 5; Eardley 7, Baptiste 6, Evatt 7, Crainey 7; Southern 8, Vaughan 7, Adam 7 (Cathcart 88 6); Taylor-Fletcher 8 (Ormerod 82 6) Puncheon 8 (Beattie 81 7), Campbell 9

SHAUN O'GARA, Bolton supporters' club Since we lost the FA Cup semi-final we have been in freefall, apart from the Arsenal match. The first half we were awful, but we got back into it in the second half. Owen Coyle has a lot of work to do on the squad - we need to strengthen the midfield and attack.

The fan's player ratings Jaaskelainen 5; Steinsson 4, Knight 6, Cahill 6, Robinson 5; Lee 5, Gardner 6 (Klasnic 78 6) Muamba 4 (Cohen 50 6), Taylor 6; Sturridge 6; Davies 7 (Moreno 83 n/a)

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