The gloating stare aimed at Ian Holloway from the Blackpool bench when they scored an 89th-minute equaliser at Selhurst Park left the former Seasiders manager feeling doubly sour. The travelling fans had kindly spared him a rancourous reception before kick-off despite his hasty exit from Bloomfield Road last month, but Nouha Dicko's late tap-in coupled with the unseemly glare from the opposing bench added personal insult to a disappointing draw.

"I didn't like it at all. I didn't do that to them when we scored," Holloway said. "It was one of their new guys, not Michael [Appleton]. But he didn't stare me out. No one can stare me out."

Holloway at least had the grace to concede Blackpool had earned their point in a fixture that grew livelier with time. "I recognised a lot of what they did and how they were doing it," he said. "I'm proud of both teams. They both tried to play exciting football and they both gave their all for the shirts."

Palace had won their four previous home matches – three of them under Holloway – a run that had vaulted them into the automatic promotion places. And they scented a fifth despite a first half in which Blackpool were the better side.

Early efforts were rare; an acrobatic one from Blackpool's Wes Thomas beat Julián Speroni but dropped narrowly off target, and Wilfried Zaha drove a shot straight down the throat of Matt Gilks at the other end. Blackpool's marking of such an obvious threat was naive – he was allowed to drift at leisure throughout the spaces gifted to him by the left-back Stephen Crainey. Angel Martínez, the Blackpool midfielder, might even have seen red for a dangerous two-footed leap on the halfway line that was fortunate not to injure the young England international.

The opening goal arrived five minutes before the interval when Blackpool's captain Alex Baptiste stole possession in midfield and fed Tom Ince on the fringe of the box. Ince whipped a cross deep into the area and Nathan Delfouneso stooped bravely at the far post to head in.

Palace began the second half far more purposefully and when Zaha was sent scampering clear on the right in the 52nd minute they were momentarily five on four. Zaha's low ball zipped past everyone, but from the following cross, Owen Garvan headed Palace level. They went ahead when Glenn Murray replicated Garvan's goal, driving a header down from an unmarked position six yards out. Murray might have made it 3-1 when Yannick Bolasie turned three Blackpool players with a sinuous run from the left, but Murray's shot was expertly smothered by Gilks.

Blackpool's challenge in this match looked as though it had faded. Yet Appleton has not guided his team through five matches without defeat by chance; his calm stewardship allowed Blackpool to calmly plot their equaliser from a low, incisive cross.

"Blackpool had a bit of oomph. They had a point to prove to me and they proved it," Holloway said. "But I knew that about them."

Appleton was aghast at the nature of the goals his players conceded but pleased to claim another point. "We got punished for two poor goals but I'm happy with the spirit we showed," he said.