Writer: Daniel Bailey
Date:Saturday March 21 2009
Saturday 21st March 2009
David McGoldrick's superb second-half strike earned relegation threatened Southampton a point as they made the long trip to Bloomfield Road to face Tony Parkes' Blackpool.
The stalemate is not enough to lift the Saints out of the bottom three, but with a number of their rivals failing to pick up maximum points, Mark Wotte's side are still in touch with those teams directly above them in the Championship table.
The Seasiders are also yet to secure their second tier status, but after today's result, they are as good as safe, sitting six points clear of the drop zone.
Blackpool, who handed a debut to on-loan Burnley midfielder Alan Mahon, went into the game having collected seven points from their previous three outings.
Southampton's Dutch Head Coach Mark Wotte made two changes from his sides' 0-0 draw with QPR, with Jake Thomson replacing the suspended Lloyd James at right-back. Morgan Schneiderlin was also preferred to England Under-21 international Adam Lallana in midfield.
The Saints were seeking their first win in four and went close early on as Jason Euell collected possession and hit a 30-yard shot which whistled just wide.
After the game, Wotte admitted that Blackpool's on-loan Leicester striker DJ Campbell gave the Saints defense their toughest test in recent weeks, with the former Brentford star looking lively up front. Campbell constantly looked to get behind the visiting defence, but despite that it was the Saints who should have opened the scoring in the 12th minute.
Simon Gillett delivered an outswinging corner from the right flank, and David McGoldrick sent a firm header just over the bar from 12 yards.
Blackpool punished Saints eight minutes later when Campbell was controversially brought down by Jan-Paul Saeijs inside the box. The referee seemed to take an age to make the decision, but eventually he pointed to the spot. Campbell picked himself up to fire a right-footed penalty into the bottom left-hand corner, sending the home crowd into raptures.
The spot-kick was Campbell's sixth goal for the club since joining the Seasiders in January and a major fillip to their hopes of recording a vital victory that would all but secure their Championship status for another season.
Moments later, the hosts could and probably should have doubled their advantage when the impressive Campbell crossed dangerously for former Saint Brett Ormerod to power a header goalwards. Saints goalkeeper Kelvin Davis was in fine form though, and he produced yet another first-class save to keep the score at 1-0.
Southampton were dealt a blow in the 33rd minute when Euell was forced off with an injury and was replaced by Bradley Wright-Phillips. Fans will no doubt be hoping that the injury isn't serious, with Euell impressing in recent weeks, forming a strong partnership in attack with Polish striker Marek Saganowski.
In the 35th minute, Saints midfielder Andrew Surman tried his luck with a left-foot shot from 25 yards but Blackpool goalkeeper Paul Rachubka saved comfortably.
In the 39th minute, Morgan Schneiderlin was invited to have a pop from range, but much to the relief of the home crowd, Stephen Crainey got himself in the way to block the French midfielder's fierce right-footed effort.
At the interval, Saints boss Mark Wotte opted to make a switch, with the experienced Paul Wotton coming on to replace Schneiderlin.
Shortly after the restart, on-loan winger Wade Small went close for the hosts, but he fired just wide of Davis' post from 20 yards.
The Seasiders desperately needed a second goal to put the game beyond doubt, but it was not forthcoming and Southampton began to enjoy spells of sustained pressure.
In the 51st minute, Saganowski headed over the crossbar from 12 yards but Campbell went close at the other end with a fine volleyed effort from distance.
With Southampton at the foot of the Championship table and in desperate need of points, it came as no surprise that the visitors continued to probe, and they were rewarded for their efforts in the 69th minute.
Wright-Phillips crossed dangerously from the right flank and McGoldrick did well to find some space before firing home a low left-foot shot from 12 yards out.
Blackpool went in search of victory but Charlie Adam fired over the bar from 20 yards.
With 94 minutes on the clock, the visitors were awarded a free-kick in a dangerous position on the edge of the area. Fan's favourite Surman stepped up, but his superb curling effort rattled Rachubka's post, much to the dismay of the 1,000 plus travelling fans.
Surman's effort proved to be the last kick of the game, and so both teams had to settle for a point.
In truth, a draw isn't too bad for the Saints, as they are still within touching distance of those above them.
Mark Wotte's side are just three points from safety, with Charlton next up for the south coast club. After that, they face a rejuvenated Watford at Vicarage Road.
A point for Blackpool all but confirms their status as a Championship club for next season, but one more win would be welcome just to calm any nerves that the Lancashire outfit may have.
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Date:Saturday March 21 2009
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