Etuhu spoils Blackpool's homecoming

Blackpool 2 Fulham 2: Late goal salvages point for Fulham as top-flight football returns to Seasiders' ground but injuries hit England hopefuls

There's a famous seaside town called Blackpool, as the old music-hall monologue goes, that's noted for fresh air and fun. To those attractions, evident in abundance for Bloomfield Road's first top-flight fixture in 39 years, we must now add goals galore, although Ian Holloway's newly promoted side will rue the one Dickson Etuhu struck to salvage a point for Fulham in a match Blackpool looked set to win.

Blackpool's four games have produced 21 goals. The latest feast, in which the hosts trailed to Bobby Zamora's third goal of the season before John Pantsil's own goal and a debut strike by the on-loan Luke Varney left Fulham facing yet another away-day failure, was lapped up by more than 15,500 spectators, the venue's biggest crowd since 1977.

The gathering included Fabio Capello, although if the England manager came to assess the form of Zamora and David Stockdale before announcing his squad for the Euro 2012 qualifiers against Bulgaria and Switzerland, he may have left disappointed. Zamora, who made his international bow against Hungary this month, suffered a thigh injury which his manager, Mark Hughes, said "must make him a doubt". Stockdale, the 24-year-old goalkeeper, went over on an ankle in a challenge with Varney. "He has done really well this season," said Hughes. "It'd be a shame if he gets picked and can't join up."

Holloway, who admitted he was pleased to see Zamora go off, hailed a "fantastic day for the club". The Blackpool manager added: "We've got to pinch ourselves we're at this level, and some of our football today was worthy of it. Our equaliser came from as good a move as I've seen from us. But I need seven or eight more players to have even half a fighting chance."

The game was an entertaining way to mark the official opening of Blackpool's new 5,070-seat East Stand. The rest of the ground, unrecognisable from when Blackpool bade farewell to the old First Division in 1971, was an ocean of tangerine, bouncing and bobbing. Their optimism appeared justified early on, when the pacy Varney showed why Holloway believes a player surplus to Derby's needs in the Championship has the potential to trouble Premier League defenders. He forced a flying save from Stockdale with a fourth-minute volley and gave Pantsil some awkward moments.

Yet Fulham began to play the smarter, more precise football, with Moussa Dembele dropping cleverly into deep positions to demonstrate why Hughes had given the Belgian his first League start ahead of Clint Dempsey. Blackpool needed last-ditch challenges by Craig Cathcart and Alex Baptiste respectively to thwart Dembele and Simon Davies after Zamora set up both chances.

When Fulham probed again down the right there was no such respite. Damien Duff's pass found Dembele racing clear of Stephen Crainey. From the cross, Zamora powered a header past Matthew Gilks. Charlie Adam strove to coax Blackpool back into the contest, and there were intermittent scares for Fulham. Elliot Grandin thought he had equalised only to find Mike Oliver, the Premier League's youngest-ever referee at the age of 25, had harshly penalised Varney for jumping into Stockdale, having correctly disallowed Brett Ormerod's first-half header for offside.

Fulham's fallibility away from Craven Cottage is no mere statistical anomaly, however. They lacked the killer touch to finish off Blackpool, especially after Zamora's departure, and paid a price for wretched defending as the game entered its final 20 minutes. For the first goal, Varney's shot, after he was played in by Grandin, was deflected first by Aaron Hughes and then, for added comic value, sliced into his own net by Pantsil.

Suddenly, Blackpool resembled an irresistible force. Ormerod picked out Varney's run with a perfectly weighted through-ball. A clinical angled finish did the rest. But with three minutes remaining, Dembele glided past two challenges in midfield before stroking a superb pass into the path of the galloping Etuhu, whose measured shot over the onrushing Gilks ensured a just outcome, if an anticlimactic one for Blackpool's supporters.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
people
News
Justin Bieber performing in Paris earlier this year
people
Arts and Entertainment
Martin Freeman and Lauren O'Neil in Jamie Lloyd's Richard III
theatreReview: The monarch's malign magnetism and diabolic effrontery aren’t felt
Arts and Entertainment
'Molecular Man +1+1+1' by Jonathan Borofsky at Yorkshire Sculpture park
tv
News
Glamour magazine hosts a yoga class with Yogalosophy author Mandy Ingber on June 10, 2013 in New York City.
newsFather Padraig O'Baoill said the exercise was 'unsavoury' in a weekly parish newsletter
Extras
indybest
News
people'She is unstoppable', says Jean Paul Gaultier at Paris show
Sport
Alexis Sanchez and apparently his barber Carlos Moles in Barcelona today
football
Arts and Entertainment
Miley Cyrus has her magic LSD brain stolen in this crazy video produced with The Flaming Lips
video
Arts and Entertainment
In his own words: Oscar Wilde in 1882
theatreNew play by the Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials - and what they reveal about the man
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Unless films such as Guardians of the Galaxy, pictured, can buck the trend, this summer could be the first in 13 years that not a single Hollywood blockbuster takes $300m
filmWith US films earning record-breaking amounts at the Chinese box office, Hollywood is more than happy to take its lead from its new-found Asian audience
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily World Cup Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice
Hollywood targets Asian audiences as US films enjoy record-breaking run at Chinese box office

Hollywood targets Asian audiences

The world's second biggest movie market is fast becoming the Hollywood studios' most crucial
Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app - and my mum keeps trying to hook me up!'

Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app'

Five years on from its launch and Grindr is the world's most popular dating app for gay men. Its founder Joel Simkhai answers his critics, describes his isolation as a child
Autocorrect has its uses but it can go rogue with embarrassing results - so is it time to ditch it?

Is it time to ditch autocorrect?

Matthew J X Malady persuaded friends to message manually instead, but failed to factor in fat fingers and drunk texting
10 best girls' summer dresses

Frock chick: 10 best girls' summer dresses

Get them ready for the holidays with these cool and pretty options 
Westminster’s dark secret: Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together

Westminster’s dark secret

Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Dulce et decorum est - a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Dulce et decorum est: a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality
Google tells popular music website to censor album cover art in 'sexually explicit content' ban

Naked censorship?

The strange case of Google, the music website and the nudity take-down requests
Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

As England take on India at Trent Bridge, here is our pick of the high-performing bats to help you up your run-count this summer 
Brazil vs Germany World Cup 2014 comment: David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

Captain appears to give up as shocking 7-1 World Cup semi-final defeat threatens ramifications in Brazil