Blackpool 4-4 Forest
Nottingham Forest were held to a 4-4 draw by a resilient Blackpool side at Bloomfield Road this afternoon.
Few could have seen such a dramatic afternoon unfolding after a dour first half in which Blackpool’s Gary Madine scored the opening goal in injury time.
But no fewer than seven second-half goals brought the match well and truly to life.
It looked like the game was slipping away from Forest when Andrea Orlandi made it 2-0 on 66 minutes, but four minutes later it was 2-2 courtesy of goals from Dexter Blackstock and Gary Gardner.
And, just when it looked like Forest would go on to press for a winner, Blackpool made it 3-2 three minutes later thanks to substitute Steven Davies.
But, after Antonio was brought down in the area, Blackpool found themselves down to ten men and back at 3-3 after Henri Lansbury scored from the penalty spot.
No fewer than nine minutes of added time were indicated at the end of the match due to a serious injury to Blackpool’s Darren O’Dea, which left the Tangerines with nine men on the field.
Forest capitalised when Chris Burke smashed the ball home, only for David Ferguson to make it 4-4 from a corner, bringing the frenetic scoring to the most dramatic of conclusions.
Dougie Freedman was forced into making one change to the side that beat Wigan 3-0 on Wednesday.
That game saw Britt Assombalonga sustain a knee injury which is likely to keep him out for a year. Matty Fryatt stepped in for him at Bloomfield Road. Young winger Oliver Burke was named among Freedman’s substitutes.
Blackpool’s pitch was its notoriously bobbly self, leading to a very scrappy opening to the match.
It wasn’t until the 15th minute that either side worked enough space to get a shot on goal. David Perkins was the first to do so, sending the ball low through a crowd of bodies from 22 yards. Karl Darlow managed to hold on to it at the second attempt.
Forest’s first opening came courtesy of a free-kick, Chris Burke sending the ball into the area where Michail Antonio was able to flick it goalwards. Tangerines keeper Joe Lewis stood firm in the face of Fryatt, who had reacted quickly to try to latch on to it.
With the vast majority of the pitch proving exceptionally difficult for either side to play passing football on, Forest tried a different tack on 24 minutes when Gary Gardner lofted the ball over Blackpool’s back four. Antonio tried to race on to it but he was hauled down by Tony McMahon on the edge of the area. There were covering defenders and referee Lee Probert saw a booking as sufficient punishment for the skipper.
Fox could only fire the ball into the wall with the subsequent free-kick and Blackpool broke, Dom Telford forcing a strong save from Darlow.
Clear-cut chances were proving nigh-on impossible for either side to create, but Eric Lichaj tried his best to spark the match into life when he cut in from the right and drove the ball goalwards. A Blackpool defender managed to get his head in the way to divert it wide.
The Reds suffered a blow minutes from the break when Jack Hobbs hobbled off with an injury, Jamaal Lascelles replacing him.
And, with seconds of normal time to play in the half, the home side had the lead when Telford crossed the ball low into the middle where Madine was well placed to stroke it past Darlow from six yards.
There were no changes for either side at half-time but Forest had a good chance to equalise within minutes of the restart.
A Blackpool defender managed to get his head to Antonio’s cross from the left but could only flick the ball to the unmarked Burke at the back post. The Scotsman was unable to bring the ball under control, however, and the hosts smothered the danger.
Freedman made his second change of the afternoon on 52 minutes, replacing Ben Osborn with Blackstock and changing to a 4-4-2 formation.
But it was Blackpool who came closest to scoring the next goal when Orlandi came in from the right and struck the ball at goal. Danny Fox managed to get his head to it, looping it over Darlow and on to The Reds’ crossbar.
It was a narrow escape for Freedman’s men and the manager made his third change shortly afterwards, handing Oliver Burke his league debut. He replaced Fryatt.
But there was nothing the youngster could do to prevent Orlandi going one better than he had done minutes earlier as the Spaniard doubled Blackpool’s lead, curling the ball low into the far corner from the edge of the area.
Forest needed a quick response - and got one.
Oliver Burke managed to flick the ball to Blackstock in the area. The striker turned his defender before seeing his first shot blocked by Lewis. But the ball rebounded straight to Blackstock who was able to poke it between the keeper and the near post.
And, within a minute, Forest had an equaliser.
Blackpool failed to clear the ball in their own area with Antonio proving himself to be a menace. It rolled to Gardner who, with Lewis stranded, rolled the ball into an empty net.
It was the Aston Villa loanee’s first goal for Forest but he showed no signs of wanting to milk the occasion as he raced to collect the ball from the net to allow his side’s hunt for a winner to commence as quickly as possible.
But Blackpool had other ideas as they retook the lead three minutes later.
It looked like the chance was gone when Darlow made an excellent save to deny Orlandi, pushing the ball wide. But substitute Steven Davies, on for Telford, was ready at the back post to turn the ball home after it was crossed back in.
Darlow had to be alert again moments later to deny Ferguson, who had earlier replaced Henry Cameron, before Forest restored parity once more.
Antonio raced on to a long ball over the top and was brought down by Tom Aldred in the area. Mr Probert awarded a penalty and showed Aldred a straight red card. Lansbury passed the ball to Lewis’ left to make it 3-3.
Forest were firmly in the ascendancy as the game entered its final stages. Lansbury smashed the stanchion with an effort from just inside the area as The Reds ramped up their search for a dramatic winner.
There was a lengthy stoppage on 86 minutes as Darren O’Dea was stretchered off after blocking Antonio’s cross, leaving the hosts with nine men.
Nine minutes were added on at the end of the match, in the second of which a Chris Burke cross ran all the way through for Lichaj, whose shot was blocked on its way towards goal.
It was all Forest, but Blackpool were holding firm. With five additional minutes to play Chris Burke carried the ball all the way across the edge of Blackpool's area before an unfortunate bobble led to him striking the ball way off target.
A minute later, however, there was no such frustration for the Scotsman as he was afforded too much space in the area before striking the ball sweetly into the top corner. It looked like the match was all but over, but Blackpool refused to lie down and had an equaliser almost immediately.
Blackpool won a corner and for a split second it looked like goalkeeper Lewis would head the ball home. But it was Ferguson who got the crucial touch to make it 4-4.
There was still time for Forest to find a winner, and Antonio could have had it when the ball fell to him in space after a corner at the other end. He could only blaze the ball high over the bar and The Reds had to settle for a point.