BLACKPOOL 2 WOLVES 2
at Bloomfield Road
“All I Want for Christmas is a new manager” read the sign at the feet of a young Blackpool fan but in the end the Seasiders will be happy with a draw as former Wolverhampton Wanderers defender Rob Edwards snatched a late equaliser from under the noses of his former employers.
Blackpool – without Simon Grayson, whose acrimonious departure to Leeds means caretaker Tony Parkes is in temporary charge – pegged Mick McCarthy’s men back for 70 minutes after a third-minute Sylvan Ebanks-Blake penalty was eradicated by Gary Taylor-Fletcher’s tenth-minute strike.
Wolves went ahead through Matt Jarvis with 20 minutes to spare before Edwards – whose career at Molineux was plagued by injury – broke Wolves’ hearts with the second equaliser of the night.
The home side appeared from the off about as welcoming as a seaside landlady when you have forgotten your key at 3am and were obviously driven by a desire to show their high-flying visitors a thing or two.
Wolves were not allowed to play with their usual confidence and the team huddle prior to kick-off looked more a way of sheltering from the bitterly cold wind off the Fylde coast than anything tactical.
McCarthy chose to again keep Neill Collins in at centre-back with Michael Mancienne returning while Kevin Foley dropped to midfield with Matt Hill and Richard Stearman the full-backs.
Wolves’ early penalty came after Chris Iwelumo was tugged back by Edwards right in front of Paul Rachubka’s goal and referee Kevin Friend had no hesitation in pointing to the spot. Ebanks-Blake fired home a blistering spot-kick, his 15th goal this season.
But Blackpool were level seven minutes later when Taylor-Fletcher found himself unmarked and jabbed the ball home past the outstretched Wayne Hennessey.
Sixteen places may separate these sides but there was little sign of that as Stearman twice had to save the leaders from embarrassment. Hennessey then saved from Kyle Reid at close range.
There were clamours from the home fans after Reid was fouled by Stearman on the edge of the Wolves penalty area but play was waved on.
Wolves lost Dave Edwards in the 26th minute with a knee injury and he was replaced by Dave Jones as the visitors were by no means having it their own way.
At times choruses of “top of the league you’re having a laugh” filtered down from Blackpool fans in the North West stand – one of the two sides not still undergoing major redevelopment work.
Jones’ introduction livened Wolves and when he threaded through Jarvis on 39 minutes it looked like a certain goal only for the winger’s effort to fly wide.
The Seasiders almost snatched the lead themselves but Reid somehow mishit his shot to send the ball flying into the no-man’s land behind Hennessey’s goal.
The 1,500 travelling Wolves fans thought their team were back in it when Neill Collins found himself in space on 51 minutes but he could not quite recapture his headed-goal prowess of the previous two games.
Wolves might have sewn things up on 63 minutes when Iwelumo turned the ball in to Jarvis but he squandered his chance only to make amends moments later with a fine strike to swing the points back Wolves’ way.
But Edwards had the last laugh with his late effort signalling exuberant home celebrations.
Scorers: Ebanks-Blake (pen, 3) 0-1, Taylor-Fletcher (10) 1-1, Jarvis (70) 1-2, Rob Rdwards (84) 2-2.
BLACKPOOL (4-4-2): Rachubka; Barker, Edwards, Evatt, Harte (Martin, 74); Taylor-Fletcher (Vaughan, 88) Southern, Fox, Reid; Gow, Dickinson (Burgess, 81). Substitutes: Gilks, Nardiello.
WOLVES (4-4-2): Hennessey; Stearman, Mancienne, Collins, Hill (Ward, 57); Foley, Edwards (Jones, 26), Henry, Jarvis; Iwelumo (Vokes, 68), Ebanks-Blake. Substitutes: Ikeme. Keogh,
Referee: Kevin Friend (Leics).
Bookings: Blackpool – Martin; Wolves – Jones.
Wolves man of the match: Matt Jarvis – all his hard work paid off with a 70th-minute strike.