Blackpool 4 Bolton 3
Blackpool gave themselves a fighting chance of avoiding relegation from the Barclays Premier League by coming out on top of a seven-goal thriller against Bolton this afternoon.
There were four goals in the opening 24 minutes alone, with Kevin Davies putting Bolton ahead and then Matthew Taylor equalising after DJ Campbell and Jason Puncheon had netted for the Seasiders.
Campbell grabbed his second just before the break and, although Daniel Sturridge levelled again for Bolton in the 53rd minute, Charlie Adam’s strike 10 minutes later proved to be the winner.
Blackpool have delighted Premier League fans with their commitment to open, attacking football but even by their standards the first half at Bloomfield Road was something else, with four goals in the first 24 minutes.
The Seasiders started much the better but it took only six minutes for Bolton to grab the opening goal when Paul Robinson’s free-kick was not cleared by Alex Baptiste and Davies poked a precise 12-yard shot into the top corner.
It was the Bolton captain’s first goal in nine games and took him into double figures for the season, but the visitors’ lead lasted less than three minutes as Blackpool hit straight back through Campbell.
Gary Taylor-Fletcher guided a header into the striker’s path and he showed great strength to hold off Gretar Steinsson before lobbing Jussi Jaaskelainen.
Blackpool thought they had taken the lead in the 17th minute when Adam’s corner was directed onto his own bar by Robinson.
The ball bounced down just the right side of the line as far as the defender was concerned and Fabrice Muamba ensured Bolton’s goal stayed just about intact by heading off the line.
The home fans only had to wait another two minutes to cheer a second goal, though, Taylor-Fletcher teeing up Puncheon – recalled to the side in place of Sergei Kornilenko today – for a lovely curling shot from 18 yards.
The excitement continued in the 24th minute as things were squared up once again, this time Taylor striking a shot from the left of the area in off the far post.
More shaky defending allowed Davies to play Sturridge clean through on goal but for once the on-loan Chelsea striker could not find the finish and Matt Gilks produced a good block.
Referee Andre Marriner then had a 20-man melee to sort out after Taylor-Fletcher tangled with Zat Knight. The crowd bayed for the big defender to see red but Taylor-Fletcher appeared the principal aggressor and both were booked.
Bolton almost retook the lead in fortuitous circumstances in the 40th minute when Davies’ cross, which was intended for Lee Chung-yong, bounced off the face of the bar.
But there was still time for another goal in the first half as Adam picked out Campbell in the 45th minute and he guided the ball just inside the post, and it would have been four moments later had Jaaskelainen not saved well from David Vaughan.
Blackpool’s lead looked anything but secure and in the opening moments of the second half only a last-ditch intervention from Baptiste prevented Sturridge from converting Lee’s cross.
Bolton boss Owen Coyle sent on Tamir Cohen for Muamba, who appeared to be struggling with an injury, and in the 53rd minute the scores were duly levelled again.
Davies played a clever ball to Lee, who drew Gilks out of his goal before teeing up Sturridge for the simple task of heading the ball into the net.
The momentum was now very definitely with the visitors and Gilks touched Taylor’s free-kick over the bar, but in the 63rd minute, from virtually their first attack of the half, Blackpool regained the lead.
Keith Southern did brilliantly to win the ball in midfield and Adam played in Taylor-Fletcher before collecting the return ball and firing high into Jaaskelainen’s net.
Bolton continued to press for another equaliser but the fourth goal seemed to have taken the sting out of their attacks.
At the other end, Adam’s free-kick from 20 yards out was deflected just wide, and that was the captain’s last action of the game before he was replaced by Craig Cathcart.
In truth there were no real alarms for the hosts in the final moments as they held out for a crucial victory and condemned Bolton to a fourth successive defeat.