Blackpool 2 Leeds 1
Wantaway winger Matt Phillips rose from the bench to earn Blackpool a win over Leeds at Bloomfield Road on a night when it had appeared as though the home side were going to get no luck at all.
The Tangerines had seen two strong penalty appeals turned down, Tom Lees open the scoring for Leeds and the outstanding Tom Ince consistently go close over the course of 64 barren minutes when manager Ian Holloway threw on Phillips and Nouha Dicko in a last throw of the dice.
Fifteen minutes later the duo had scored a goal apiece – both from a yard – as Leeds’ tactics of holding what they had backfired on them and left them heading back to Yorkshire with a 50-50 record for the season.
Phillips’ winner ensured that Blackpool extended their winning start to the season and as he celebrated with their fans there was no sign of the ill-feeling that has been generated by his desire to leave and join Southampton.
After not picking the winger for Saturday’s win at Millwall, Holloway outed Phillips for handing in a transfer request but made it clear he was not willing to part with his prized asset.
Whether he keeps to that remains to be seen, but the former Wycombe man may now command a higher fee than he previously did.
For a time it had looked as though he would not get the chance to be a hero, though, as he started on the bench and Lees, the only alteration to Neil Warnock’s side from the one which beat Wolves, opened the scoring 15 minutes in.
Before that, however, it had been all Blackpool with Paddy Kenny getting down well to his right to keep out Tiago Gomes, while for a second it appeared as if Lees was going to see more than the yellow he received for a studs-up tackle on Gary Taylor-Fletcher.
Referee Dean Whitestone opted for just a caution in the end and four minutes later Lees was climbing to get on the end of Ross McCormack’s corner and put his side ahead.
If Blackpool felt slightly aggrieved by that they had further grounds for complain with 18 minutes gone when the dangerous Ince went down in the box under Luke Varney’s challenge, only for Whitestone to wave away their appeals.
He was doing the same thing again not long after when Lees appeared to handle the ball in the area, with Kenny saving well from Alex Baptiste in the ensuing melee, not long after he had kept out Kevin Phillips.
Kenny could not get near Ince’s cross-shot as half-time approached but nor could anyone else as it flashed agonisingly wide, and the same duo went head-to-head in the first minute of the second half, with the latter cracking the inside of the post from 20 yards with the former beaten.
Had Ince been in the goalscoring form he was when scoring twice at the weekend he could have had a hat-trick but, as it was, he continued to let Leeds off the hook, this time blazing over from 12 yards after Taylor-Fletcher’s cross.
Frustrated by his side’s bluntness in front of goal Holloway made his changes with 24 minutes to play, although his first act could have been to kick-off had Luciano Becchio realised how much time he had when he went up for a header in Blackpool’s box.
It was Blackpool who remained the more threatening side, though, and with 76 minutes they got the goal which they had threatened for most of the night when Stephen Crainey broke into the box on the left and gave Dicko the easiest task from a yard out.
Leeds had received ample warning of Blackpool’s intentions but even after being stung once they remained vulnerable and four minutes later, they were behind.
The goal was a carbon copy of the first, with Ince playing the role of Crainey and Phillips that of Dicko, with United seemingly unable to handle close-range balls into their box before Ince nearly rounded things off when he hit the bar with a long-range free-kick.