Report: Albion 1 Blackpool 1
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Brighton & Hove Albion were frustrated in their aim to cement a play-off finish as they were held to a 1-1 draw with Blackpool at the American Express Community Stadium.
Following a lifeless first half, Dale Stephens fired the Seagulls ahead straight after the break with a superb effort. However, Blackpool fought back quickly and claimed an equaliser just five minutes later through a strike from ex-Seagull Stephen Dobbie.
Despite a late surge of attacks, Oscar Garcia’s men were unable to find a winner but remain in sixth place following Ipswich's draw against Bournemouth.
The visitors had the first chance of the game when an early loose pass from Stephens was pounced upon by Isaiah Osbourne, however the resulting strike deflected harmlessly wide of Tomasz Kusczak’s post. Kazenga LuaLua then tried his luck at the other end, but his long-range effort also fell wide of the upright.
Kuszczak was soon called into action again as a dangerous in-swinging corner almost crept in underneath his crossbar, but the Pole was on hand to punch the ball away to safety.
The best chance of the half then fell to Leonardo Ulloa. Stephens’ whipped corner from the right was met by the head of the Albion’s top-goalscorer, but he was unable to prevent his driven effort from soaring over the Blackpool crossbar.
The visitors then caused some confusion among Brighton’s defensive ranks but Dobbie dragged his strike wide of Kusczak’s far post to conclude the first half.
Will Buckley was introduced at the beginning of the second half, replacing his midfield counterpart Solly March, in order to bolster the Albion’s attacking threat. And with less than a minute played the Seagulls finally got their breakthrough.
Stephen Ward’s deep cross from the left was chested into the path of Stephens by Ulloa, and the Albion midfielder dummied his man before curling a sublime strike into the top right-hand corner of the Blackpool goal.
Despite going behind, the visitors were quick to respond. A mere five minutes later Dobbie burst into the Albion half and, having played a neat one-two, swung a crisp strike from the left into Kusczak’s far corner to level proceedings.
Roared on by an electric atmosphere, Brighton continued to probe the visitors and LuaLua made way for long-term absentee Craig Mackail-Smith.
Albion continued to search the winner and in the closing moments a swift counter attack saw Ulloa cut the ball back into the path of the onrushing Buckley, but the substitute pushed his effort over the crossbar.
A late effort in injury-time saw Mackail-Smith attempt an overhead kick but he skewed his shot much to the relief of the Blackpool defence.
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