Blackpool keep survival hopes alive with vital win at Birmingham
Blackpool gave their Sky Bet Championship survival hopes a shot in the arm with their first away win since October with a 1-0 success at Birmingham.
Substitute Ian Poveda, on loan from Leeds, tapped home the only goal in the 74th minute after a dreadful mix-up between defender Kevin Long and goalkeeper Neil Etheridge.
Blackpool are now three points adrift of 21st-placed Huddersfield, who have a game in hand, with two matches remaining.
Birmingham dominated much of the first half, then had four shots cleared off the line in the space of a few seconds before the hour, but they were unable to break the deadlock.
A routine shot from Tahith Chong took a deflection but it was spilled by goalkeeper Daniel Grimshaw, who gathered at the second attempt.
Birmingham could have been punished for their wastefulness in Blackpool’s first serious attack.
Josh Bowler cut inside Auston Trusty driving in from the right before lashing a rising left-footed shot over the bar.
Blues returned to the attack but Long nodded wide after seeming surprised that Hannibal Mejbri’s corner, which deflected off a Blackpool head, reached him.
But the hosts left their first-half best until last. Jobe Bellingham rose at the far post but glanced wide from Maxime Colin’s cross.
Blackpool looked a different proposition after half-time as they took the game to Birmingham.
A lovely backheel by Sonny Carey gave space to Morgan Rogers to cross, but there was no one on the end of it as the ball rolled agonisingly across the face of goal.
Out of the blue, Birmingham went desperately close in the 57th minute, with four shots on target, all blocked.
Hannibal saw a low effort denied by Grimshaw diving to his right, Lukas Jutkiewicz’s follow-up was blocked, Chong’s effort was saved by Grimshaw then Hannibal’s shot was spectacularly hacked off the line by Jordan Thorniley.
Bellingham curled a shot comfortably over the bar before Chong’s free-kick flew straight into the arms of Grimshaw.
But all that changed in the 74th minute when Blackpool took the lead.
It arose from a terrible mix-up between Long and Etheridge, who was forced to slide in on Rogers to retrieve the defender’s forward pass.
The loose ball fell to Rogers, who squared to the unmarked Poveda to tap into the empty net.
Blues head coach John Eustace made a triple substitution in the 78th minute.
Troy Deeney – back from injury – Jordan Graham and Emmanuel Longelo replaced Long, Chong and Jordan James.
But it made little impact as the home side faded.
Blackpool forward CJ Hamilton forced Etheridge to make a diving save and gather at the second attempt after outpacing Marc Roberts to a long ball.
Blues tried to force an equaliser but Trusty’s shot was deflected wide and, from substitute Juninho Bacuna’s corner, Roberts nodded wide.