Hoilett saves a point for Blackburn Rovers to chagrin of Blackpool

Until Junior Hoilett's late, late intervention Blackpool had seemed to have stalled their freefall with what appeared to be three crucial points.

Hoilett saves a point for Blackburn Rovers to chagrin of Blackpool But, following a weak punched clearance from Richard Kingson, after Paul Robinson had launched a Hail Mary of a delivery from inside his half, the midfielder's header completed a rousing second-half comeback from Steve Kean's team that ensured that Blackburn's own great slide had also been paused.

Kean said: "It was excellent, full credit to the lads. We were excellent in the second half, resulting in 20 attempts on goal. We were desperate to get something from the game – that shows the determination and the team spirit."

Before the match each side had registered only one league win since mid-January, to leave them both hovering above the drop zone by a point and in the type of downward spiral that if not averted can doom a team to Championship football the following season.

At the break there seemed only one candidate on show for this. And it was not Ian Holloway's team, who had produced an offering of the free-flowing stuff that rightly has won them so many new fans on their inaugural Premier League campaign.

Instead, Rovers walked off in disarray and to furious boos from their support after two goals from Charlie Adam plus a pair of (correctly) disallowed Luke Varney goals had comprehensively illustrated a lack of fight and unity.

The shambles Kean had overseen also suggested that despite the club's owners' recent claims to the contrary, the obituaries might soon be being penned for his nascent career as Rovers manager.

Yet, come the half-time chat, Kean proved he could turn a team around. Within four minutes of the second period commencing Chris Samba had pulled one back with a cool shot from inside the penalty area and the Rovers captain subsequently had a header cleared off the visitors' line. Then Martin Olsson, with a shot, and Hoilett (a clever back-heel) had efforts thwarted by the frame, before the latter's equaliser.

Before Adam's goals, though, it had been Blackpool who appeared slipshod and culpable of pub football defending: allowing the ball to bounce is a weakness even when the Royal Oak take on the Queen Vic, so when the Tangerine defence stood and watched an early Brett Emerton corner hit the turf in the area and Ryan Nelson then stand a ball up that a colleague just failed to finish, the signs were that Ian Holloway's men might suffer a heavy defeat.

But instead, Rovers' first-half crumble ensued and Adam stroked in a penalty after Nelson had brought down Gary Taylor-Fletcher to give Blackpool the lead. Holloway, as contrary as ever, said of Howard Webb's decision: "I thought the referee has had a bit of a stinker. Was that a penalty? No. A great move, a shot that bobbled off their defender and then my centre-forward fell over. I'm proud of my team – that's a point and I felt we deserved a lot more than that. I thought we played absolutely fantastically well."

By the close each manager could claim this. Blackpool's second had arrived after Adam was fouled by Jermaine Jones. He picked himself up, then bent a perfect curling free-kick into Robinson's top left-hand corner.


MIKE DELAP, Blackburn.VitalFootball.co.uk As a spectacle the game was incredible, and that was due to the two teams going for it from the start. It was blood and thunder. The good thing from our point of view the players came out after half-time and wanted to win. They showed tremendous spirit. Reverting back to the old Sam Allardyce tactic of putting the ball into the box and using the aerial presence of the players. Although not particularly pleasing on the eye it is probably our best way of winning the game. Howard Webb was poor and made bad decisions against both sides. Junior Hoilett was our best player by a million miles and has a bright future.

The fan's player ratings Robinson 6; Salgado 5, Samba 7, Nelsen 6, Olsson 6; Nzonzi 6, J Jones 4; MB Diouf 5 (Pedersen 79 6), Emerton 5 (P Jones 72 6), Hoilett 9; Santa Cruz 4

JACK GAUGHAN, Blackpool.VitalFootball.co.uk They had control of the first 20 minutes but once we got a foothold we passed them off the park. What was upsetting was the lack of concentration on the first and last five minutes of the second half. It's nothing new, but I hoped they would have learned the lesson by now. Charlie Adam was the best player on the pitch by a mile. We need DJ back up front because we lack movement when he's not playing and it makes it difficult for the wingers to keep a hold of the ball for longer spells. The referee was abysmal for both teams throughout the match. He made a catalogue of errors.

The fan's player ratings Kingson 6; Baptiste 6, Cathcart 8, Evatt 7, Crainey 7; Puncheon 8, Vaughan 7, Grandin 6 (Phillips 66 5), Adam 8 (Southern 88 5), Varney 6 (Reid 5); Taylor-Fletcher 7

To take part in the Fans' Verdict, email sport@observer.co.uk

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Jamie Jackson at Ewood Park, for The Observer on Saturday 19th March 2011 17.16 Europe/London

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