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Premier League: Blackpool v Stoke

SoccerNews in English Premier League, FA Cup 30 Apr 2011

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Blackpool were left teetering on the edge of the relegation zone after a scrappy goalless draw against Stoke City at Bloomfield Road.

It could have been far worse for Blackpool but for Kenwyne Jones’ late entry into the miss-of-the-season competition after the striker inexplicably missed the target from 12 yards with no one between him and the empty net.

It was Blackpool’s first home clean sheet of the season – but also the first time they had failed to score in the Premier League at Bloomfield Road – and leaves them looking nervously looking over their shoulder.

Stoke were the better of the two sides but, with an FA Cup final to look forward to, were concerned about injuries, and defender Andy Wilkinson was taken off as a precaution with Danny Higginbotham, Ricardo Fuller and Matthew Etherington all already doubtful for Wembley.

With tough trips to Tottenham and Manchester United to come, it was a must-win game for Ian Holloway’s men, but they started nervously against a side free from relegation worries.

The visitors created the first chance in the 10th minute, typically, from a Rory Delap long-throw.

Blackpool keeper Matt Gilks spilled it to Robert Huth, whose first time volley was cleared off the line by Stephen Crainey.

Ian Evatt then almost sliced a dangerous Delap cross into his own net before making last ditch tackles to deny Jones and then Jermaine Pennant.

The Seasiders’ only real opening of the first half came when DJ Campbell got on the end of a Crainey cross, but his flick header from eight yards out comfortably cleared the bar.

However, on the stroke of half-time, Jones should have broken the deadlock for Stoke when he beat the offside trap, rounded Gilks and, with an empty net, shanked his shot horribly wide.

Blackpool started the second half much more brightly and almost scrambled an equaliser in the first minute when Matt Phillips met Charlie Adam’s near post corner, only for Begovic to save well from close range.

But Stoke roared back with a fierce Glen Whelan 20-yarder, which was well saved, and a close-range header from Jones that was squeezed clear by the Blackpool defence.

With five minutes to go, Whelan hit another thumping low drive that drifted inches wide of Gilks’ far post.

Blackpool mounted a late charge for all three points and came close with a Sergei Kornilenko header, which looped into the arms of Begovic.

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