Blackpool 2 Leicester City 2 match report: Lively Thomas Ince on the spot to thwart battling Foxes


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The Independent Football

A last-minute penalty divided the spoils in a clash at the top of the Championship that both sides had looked determined to lose. Leicester, trailing for much of the match despite dominating it territorially, looked to have grabbed it with two goals in two minutes – the game's first penalty from Paul Konchesky and a screamer from Andy King.

But, with the job looking done, Barry Ferguson put a long throw into the City area and referee Scott Duncan spotted a push by Kasper Schmeichel on Gary MacKenzie that gave Thomas Ince the chance to drive home the equaliser from the spot.

"It looked like a penalty," admitted the City manager, Nigel Pearson, afterwards. "We feel like we've dropped a couple of points."

Blackpool, however, saw it slightly differently. "After a difficult week, it was a good point against a good Leicester side," said their assistant manager, Steve Thompson.

There was a familiar face for Blackpudlians on the bench and awaiting his Leicester debut in the shape of Gary Taylor-Fletcher, the much-travelled, much-hyphenated striker, whose six years at the seaside included the goal that took them into the Premiership.

The afternoon also brought the return of Stephen Dobbie, on loan from Crystal Palace and making his first start because of Neal Bishop's illness.

It was a good time for Blackpool to relish some happy memories, at the end of a week which brought them their first defeat of the season, at bottom club Millwall, and saw Paul Ince and Alex Rae, manager and his other assistant respectively, hauled up for their behaviour in the tunnel at Bournemouth. Light at the end of a relatively short tunnel was what was required.

Dobbie, playing in the hole just behind Ricardo Fuller, was responsible for the first chance of the match – one his partner could not quite latch onto. At the other end, Jamie Vardy, once of neighbours Fleetwood, and the winger, Anthony Knockaert, were particularly prominent in a lively Leicester start.

It was Ince the younger, the sought-after right-winger, who initiated the Blackpool goal after 18 minutes. His run, Fuller's accurate cross and Chris Basham's firm header were enough to give them the lead.

City had plenty of possession and two fierce shouts for a penalty, but they could have been two goals down by half-time. Ince went on one of his cutting-in forays and found the far corner of the net, but he had already been flagged for offside. David Nugent was guilty of two of City's worse misses, with a tame shot past the post and a volley into the ground. But then Pearson played one of his new trump cards, bringing on Taylor-Fletcher to a warm reception from the fans he left after twice turning down a new contract this summer.

His was the crucial touch that sent Danny Drinkwater into the area for Kirk Broadfoot's tackle to bring him down. Less than 100 seconds later, a half-cleared corner only reached King and Leicester thought they had struck an early blow in the battle at the top of what is always such a competitive division.

Blackpool (4-4-1-1): Gilks; Orr, MacKenzie, Broadfoot, Robinson; Ince, Osbourne (Tyson, 80), Ferguson, Basham; Dobbie (Martinez, 69); Fuller (Davies, 63).

Leicester (4-4-2): Schmeichel; De Laet, Morgan, Moore, Konchesky; Knockaert (James, 84), King, Drinkwater, Dyer (Schlupp, 63); Nugent (Taylor-Fletcher, 63), Vardy.

Referee S Duncan (Northumberland).