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MATCH REPORT

PUBLISHED
21:58 1th November 2010

Blackpool 2 Albion 1

NINE-MAN Albion paid the penalty for some 'ref' justice as their eight-game unbeaten run came to a frustrating end at Bloomfield Road. The live TV encounter turned massively in Blackpool's favour in the tenth minute when referee Michael Oliver awarded a penalty against Pablo Ibanez for a challenge on DJ Campbell. The Northumberland official then harshly gave the Spain international his marching orders for allegedly denying a the former Blues striker a clear goalscoring opportunity. Charlie Adam slotted home the spot-kick and the frustration was clear to see on Baggies faces, eventually leading to a second red card of the night for Gonzalo Jara's rash lunge on Luke Varney in the 29th minute. Varney's 63rd-minute tap-in looked to have settled the match but Albion's never-say-die attitude saw them halve the hosts' advantage via Youssouf Mulumbu's 85th-minute strike and set up a frantic finale. A second goal proved beyond Roberto Di Matteo's men, but the very fact they only lost by a single strike, having played two thirds of the game with a two-man disadvantage, spoke volumes for the team spirit coursing through the camp. Di Matteo made two enforced changes to his league starting line-up as Simon Cox and Ibanez replaced injured duo James Morrison (knee) and Jonas Olsson (Achilles) respectively. The Seasiders threatened first in the third minute when Elliot Grandin nudged the ball into the left-hand side of the penalty area for Varney, who saw Scott Carson rush off his line to smother at his feet in the six-yard box. Six minutes later, Mulumbu slid Cox in on goal and the former Swindon ace forced Matthew Gilks into a fine one-handed save low to his right. Play switched quickly to the opposite end where referee Oliver awarded Blackpool a borderline penalty for what looked nothing more than an accidental collision between Campbell and Ibanez. To add insult to injury, the official produced a straight red card for the Spain international for allegedly denying a clear goalscoring opportunity. Tangerines skipper Adam stepped up to despatch the spot-kick, despite Carson getting his left hand to the ball, and give Blackpool the lead. Two minutes later, Cox's first-ever Barclays Premier League start was cut short as he was the unfortunate fall-guy in a Baggies reshuffle. Steven Reid replaced him and slotted in at centre-half alongside Gabriel Tamas. Despite being a man down, Albion battled manfully on and almost levelled when Gilks misjudged Chris Brunt's lofted free-kick to the back-post on 25. The keeper just managed to claw it off his goalline and the ball dropped for Paul Scharner in the six-yard box who, with his back to goal, looped the ball just wide of the left-hand post. Things went from bad to worse for the visitors in the 29th minute when Jara's frustration got the better of him. The Chile ace leapt into a two-footed challenge on Varney near the corner flag to earn the second straight red card of the night. The hosts came close to doubling their lead three minutes later but Tamas put his body on the line twice to block goalbound efforts from Adam and Gary Taylor-Fletcher. Nine-man Albion made another change in the 35th minute as Graham Dorrans came on for Marc-Antoine Fortuné, leaving them without a striker in a 4-4-0 formation. The Baggies saw a penalty appeal of their own turned down seven minutes before the break when Mulumbu appeared to be sent crashing to the ground by Ian Evatt. A minute later, Campbell flicked Stephen Crainey's left-wing cross over at the near post. Substitute Dorrans then had two chances for Di Matteo's battlers in the final moments of the half. The Scotland international first miscued his volley from Nicky Shorey's left-wing ball across the face of goal and then saw his header from Thomas' left-wing cross loop into Gilks' arms. Eight minutes into the second half, Dorrans' challenge saw Crainey lose the ball 30 yards out and Thomas pounced before driving into the box and seeing his 12-yard strike deflect off Craig Cathcart, past Gilks and just the wrong side of the left-hand post. It should have been game over in the 56th minute - but Varney headed Crainey's left-wing cross straight into Carson's arms from six yards. A minute later, Ian Holloway made a double change as David Carney and Matt Phillips replaced Cathcart and Neal Eardley respectively. Albion's resistance was finally broken in the 63rd minute as Varney tapped home Grandin's centre from the right. Moments later, Brunt's never-say-die attitude saw him flash a 25-yard shot just past the left-hand upright. Scharner leapt highest at the back post from Brunt's free-kick in the 67th minute but headed over from ten yards. Carson was forced to back-pedal to tip over Campbell's header in the 70th minute as the Seasiders looked to capitalise on their two-man advantage. Then, five minutes from time, it was game on again. Mulumbu incredibly gave the Baggies hope of taking an unlikely point when he latched onto Reid's header forward and tricked substitute Dekel Keinan before curling home. Blackpool looked shell-shocked and, roared on by their vociferous away support, Scharner almost levelled when he nodded just past the right-hand post from Brunt's free-kick. Another chance came and went in the final minute when Dorrans' shot inside the area was blocked by Crainey and the ball fell to the grounded Reid, who could not keep his effort below the bar. The Tangerines had clear-cut chances to finish the Baggies off but first Carson denied Grandin in a one-on-one before Campbell missed a gilt-edged opportunity. But the hosts were really hanging on at the death and the relief around Bloomfield Road was tangible at the final whistle, which was testimony to how far Albion's nine men had pushed Holloway's side. BLACKPOOL (4-3-3): Gilks; Eardley (Phillips 57), Cathcart (Carney 57), Evatt, Crainey; Grandin, Vaughan, Adam; Varney (Keinan 71), Campbell, Taylor-Fletcher. Subs not used: Kingson (gk), Southern, Harewood, Sylvestre. ALBION (4-2-3-1): Carson; Jara, Tamas, Ibanez, Shorey; Scharner, Mulumbu; Brunt, Cox (S Reid 12), Thomas (Barnes 71); Fortuné (Dorrans 35). Subs not used: Myhill (gk), Cech, Tchoyi, Bednar. GOALS: BLACKPOOL - Adam (pen 12), Varney (63). ALBION - Mulumbu (85). BOOKINGS: BLACKPOOL - Adam (foul 27), Keinan (persistent fouling 85). ALBION - Mulumbu (dissent 17), S Reid (foul 64), Scharner (foul 77). SENDING-OFFS: ALBION - Ibanez (denying goalscoring opportunity 10), Jara (dangerous tackle 29). REFEREE: M Oliver (Northumberland). ATTENDANCE: 15,210. ALBION STARMAN: Youssouf Mulumbu. PIC: MARCHING ORDERS...Jara is showing a straight red by referee Oliver  To buy a DVD copy of this game for just £4.99, plus postage, click here.
    Data provided by Press Association

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