Odds against them but Seasiders still buoyant

Blackpool 0 Stoke City 0: Blackpool's fate is in their own hands although tough away games loom

The sun poured down on the great resort as if it were Rimini or Benidorm but in the home dressing-room there was a realisation that they will need ice-cold heads to survive.

The first goalless draw here in nearly two years and Everton's late penalty at Wigan ensured that Blackpool remained out of the relegation zone; but of their final three games, one is at Tottenham, another at Manchester United. The one in between, at home to Bolton, is likely to decide whether Blackpool remain in the Premier League.

The odds must be that Blackpool will not get the four points they probably require to stay up but the odds were against them being promoted in the first place – and the odds were against them having 35 points with three matches to play.

It is still in their hands, however sweaty and slippery those palms might be. "When you give someone a dream, you always know you can shatter that dream," the Seasiders' manager Ian Holloway said afterwards. "But we still believe."

Just before the players came out, the Tannoys played The Monkees' "Daydream Believer", a song that encapsulates all the romance, naivety and optimism inherent in Blackpool's season. It was recorded in 1967, the year they were relegated from top-flight football.

By the finish Holloway's footballers were exhausted; they had wrung every drop of sweat and ability out of themselves but they had still not forced Asmir Begovic to make a single serious save in Stoke's goal. The previous Saturday, they had outplayed Newcastle without forcing the win that their season craved. Here they did no more than hold on.

Stoke might have seemed ideal opponents. In the Premier League there was nothing left to play for, an FA Cup final was a fortnight away and on Tuesday night they had seen Matthew Etherington injured.

In 2008, Portsmouth had made the FA Cup final and then lost all their remaining League fixtures but Stoke are fashioned from grittier material. From the opening moments when David Vaughan tried to dribble past the vast bulk of Robert Huth and was promptly flattened, the tone was set.

Holloway and his players have complained with some justification that they have been abandoned by luck just when the season entered its business phase but a minute before the interval they were handed a vast slice of fortune.

Blackpool surrendered possession from their own throw-in and saw Kenwyne Jones bursting through on goal. Just after Jones had rounded the keeper Matt Gilks, Ian Evatt, the remaining covering defender, slipped. Jones, eight yards out, albeit with a testing angle, had the goal at his mercy but he missed.

Holloway reflected: "Knowing Tony [Pulis] as I do, he would have chewed Jones's ear off at half-time." If he did, the Stoke manager was not prepared to repeat the words, observing only that "great strikers score great goals but they tend to miss easy chances and that was an easy chance".

Asked if it was a different Blackpool to the one that had beaten Stoke at the Britannia Stadium in December, Pulis remarked that then Stoke had created a bucketful of opportunities without converting them. Here, chances were rather more fleeting and of the two that fell to Glenn Whelan in the second half, one was saved, the other flew wide.

This evening Blackpool will unveil a statue of Jimmy Armfield, who vies with Sir Stanley Matthews as the club's greatest player, to commemorate the 40th anniversary of his retirement. Armfield's final game in 1971 was a 1-1 draw against Manchester United, and the statue shows the England captain with his foot on the ball, serene. Blackpool require that calmness now and they might need a 1-1 draw against United, too.

Attendance: 16,003

Referee: Mark Clattenburg

Man of the match: Evatt

Match rating: 6/10

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, DJ Taylor
How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

How to make your own Easter egg

Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

Cricket World Cup 2015

Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing