A GUD SATURDAY, BUT NOT FOR LEE!
BLACKPOOL manager Lee Clark admits the draw at Bolton felt like a defeat after his doomed side were denied a first win in 11 matches in injury-time.
Eidur Gudjohnsen’s last-gasp equaliser denied the Seasiders only a fifth victory of a miserable campaign after Michael Jacobs’ stunning early strike looked to have given them all three points.
Clark has made no secret of the fact he has already turned his attentions to next term, with life in League One staring the Bloomfield Road outfit in the face.
And while delighted with his side’s performance levels, he could not hide his irritation at the late goal which leaves them 16 points adrift of safety with just 18 available.
“We’re are all extremely frustrated in the dressing room,” said Clark. “It’s a strange one because we’ve played so well and we’ve got a draw, which you’d normally take away from home. But it feels like a defeat at this moment in time because of the late goal.
“It was a great opportunity for us to get that elusive first win and I thought we deserved it. We defended when we had to, but we caused them problems when we had the ball.
“When you get into injury time it’s about game-management, but five or six times we gave the ball away cheaply in the dying minutes and it proved costly in the end.”
Following a low-key start to the game Jacobs fired Blackpool into the lead in spectacular fashion in the ninth minute.
After latching on to a long ball to the right of the penalty area, the winger steadied himself and lashed in at the near post on the half-volley past a shell-shocked Ben Amos.
Pool skipper Peter Clarke nearly doubled his team’s advantage almost immediately when he headed Jamie O’Hara’s free-kick towards the top corner only for Amos to deny him with a low save.
The home side were booed off at half-time and responded by laying siege to the Blackpool goal in the second half.
After several half-chances had been squandered Barry Bannan – a former Blackpool loanee – then missed a golden opportunity to level for the Trotters in the 63rd minute, striking the post when it looked easier to score, after Adam Le Fondre had got the better of Darren O’Dea and cut the ball back.
Liam Feeney added to the hosts’ tally of misses in the 66th minute heading a Bannan freekick off target at the back post.
The Seasiders probably thought they had done enough to hold out when Jamie O’Hara cleared Le Fondre’s close-range shot off the line in stoppage time.
In fact they nearly added a second on the break moments later but Jose Cubero blazed over the bar from inside the box after being teed up by creator-in-chief Jacobs.
But Bolton were not to be denied and a frantic last few minutes reached their climax in the fifth minute of injury time when first Emile Heskey inexplicably headed a cross away from goal, then Neil Danns nodded back towards goal and Gudjohnsen scrambled over the line to send the Macron Stadium wild.
While Bolton’s equaliser came at the last possible moment it was a goal Neil Lennon felt his team more than merited.
“On the balance of play we thoroughly deserved the equaliser,” said Lennon. “I can’t believe the chances we missed.
“I could’ve strangled Barry Bannan when he missed his chance and Le Fondre’s had one off the line.
“We’ve had 20-odd attempts on goal and as a manager you should be pleased with that but obviously we are disappointed we can’t win at home against Blackpool. It looked like there was a bit of complacency in our game.”
WANDER STRIKE: Eidur Gudjohnsen celebrates after scoring Bolton’s dramatic late equaliser
ALFIE: Adam Le Fondre beats Peter Clarke to the ball