Lambert takes second to salvage Saints' record year

Southampton 2 Blackpool 2

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The Independent Online

Today is the anniversary of Southampton's last home league defeat, and Blackpool came within seconds of emulating Brentford's feat on 11 December 2010 when Rickie Lambert's late leveller preserved the Saints' unbeaten home record this season. The goal came in the third of five minutes of added time at the end of an absorbing match, and Ian Holloway, the Blackpool manager, was "bitterly disappointed" with the time of the goal as well as the two dropped points.

"As soon as that board with five minutes on it went up, it lifted everyone in the stadium," he said. "How can you find five extra minutes as well as two in the first half? That's nonsense. We should have seen it through, we missed a couple of chances, but their crowd helped them – after the board went up. I'm disappointed we're still 12 points behind them, because I didn't see that difference today."

The result ends Southampton's run of home league victories at 19, two short of Liverpool's post-war record of 21, but Blackpool deserved a point and arguably more. They played the neater, more composed football, but like others before them were unable to keep out Lambert. The equaliser was his 15th of the season at least – like any goalscorer, he will also claim his side's opener, although his shot was diverted in by Craig Cathcart, the Blackpool defender.

Southampton could claim that the visitors were helped by a howler from Bartosz Bialkowski, their reserve goalkeeper, who gifted Blackpool the goal that put them 2-1 up on his first League start for two seasons after Kelvin Davis sustained a calf injury. But Nigel Adkins, the Saints manager and a former goalkeeper, refused to blame him. "I gave him a big hug," he said. "I've been there. Bart will become a stronger character for that and we'll support him. Credit to Blackpool, they got a grip of the ball to get back into the game."

With Callum McManaman, on loan from Wigan Athletic, looking as tricky as might be expected from a relative, albeit a distant one, of the former England winger Steve, Blackpool gave the home defence some uncomfortable moments, and Bialkowski twice struggled with straightforward shots.

But Southampton eventually found some rhythm of their own. Guly do Prado shot across goal, Morgan Schneiderlin scooped the ball over the crossbar, and it seemed only a matter of time before the home side went ahead. Sure enough, after 30 minutes Ian Evatt was caught in possession by Adam Lallana, whose pass was played on by Jack Cork to Lambert. His shot might have been covered by Matt Gilks until Cathcart swung a leg and sliced the ball into his own net.

Only a fine save by Gilks prevented Southampton going two ahead when Guly's lofted pass sent Lambert through, but Blackpool refused to buckle, and equalised six minutes later when the unmarked Chris Basham headed home McManaman's inswinging cross from the left from a yard out as the defence waited in vain for a flag. And only minutes later, Matt Phillips' effort struck the foot ofa post.

Three minutes into the second half, McManaman ran at the defence before hitting a low shot that was straight at Bialkowski, but the ball somehow went through him and rolled slowly over the goalline. The home fans cheered ironically at the hapless keeper's every successful touch thereafter – to Holloway's disgust. "It was his first game of the season," he said. "Let them get out there. How dare anyone abuse anyone that badly?"

Guly headed wide then high and Dean Hammond curled a shot past the far post as Southampton tried to reply, while Blackpool also had opportunities to put the result beyond doubt. Finally, Lambert headed home a cross from Frazer Richardson. "Great character from our lads to keep going," Adkins said. "Overall it's a good point for us after being behind. It's a year since we've been defeated here, a full season. So that's not bad, is it?"

Southampton (4-4-2): Bialkowski; Richardson, Fonte, Hooiveld, Fox (Harding, 63); Schneiderlin, Cork, Hammond (De Ridder, 63), Lallana; Do Prado, Lambert.

Blackpool (4-3-3): Gilks; Eardley, Cathcart, Evatt, Crainey; Basham (LuaLua, 82), Ferguson, Sylvestre; McManaman (K Phillips, 75), Taylor-Fletcher, M Phillips (Ince, 90).

Referee: G Eltringham

Man of the match: Ferguson (Blackpool)

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