Smashing Adam grabs lifeline for Blackpool

Blackpool 4 Bolton Wanderers 3: History repeats itself as Holloway's men scrap magnificently to the end
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The Independent Online

When Blackpool and Bolton last met on FA Cup final day they served up one of the greatest games under Wembley's Twin Towers, as Stanley Matthews finally got his hands on the old trophy after Stan Morten-sen's hat-trick helped Blackpool win a seven-goal thriller.

Yesterday's breathless match produced an identical outcome, but despite the celebrations of a raucous Bloomfield Road crowd it may not be enough to preserve Blackpool's Premier League place. The pity for Ian Holloway's men, victorious for the first time since 22 February, is that Wolves' win at Sunderland means they remain third-bottom and in need of something from next Sunday's visit to Manchester United.

Blackpool, level on points with Birmingham and one behind Wolves and Blackburn, got a point on their last top-flight visit to Old Trafford in 1970 but will probably require three, a daunting prospect even against a United side with the champ-ionship in their hands and the Champions' League final on their minds.

Holloway, who played in the QPR side that won 4-1 at United on New Year's Day 1992, said: "I've been there myself and we won 4-1. We'll need a day like that, I think. I believe we can do it, whoever they put out."

Whatever next week brings, yesterday's thrills and spills summed up Blackpool's debut Premier League campaign, the division's leakiest defence shipping three more goals but the home side hitting four through DJ Campbell's double and fine strikes by Jason Puncheon and Charlie Adam.

As at Wembley 58 years ago, Blackpool made the worst possible start. Then, they conceded after 90 seconds; here there were six minutes played when Kevin Davies struck after Paul Robinson's free-kick from the left had bounced off Alex Baptiste and sat up nicely for the Bolton striker to drive past Matthew Gilks.

But Holloway had promised Bolton the kitchen sink, and Blackpool certainly delivered that. They drew level three minutes later as Gary Taylor-Fletcher's header sent Campbell away, the striker holding off Gretar Steinsson before lifting the ball over Jussi Jaaskelainen.

Blackpool's front three were working overtime, chasing and interchanging, and Puncheon soon had the hosts in front. Taylor-Fletcher teed up the on-loan Southampton winger for a shot on the edge of the box and though Puncheon's first effort was blocked, the ball rebounded to him and he found the bottom corner.

This being Blackpool, their lead did not last long. After Neal Eardley had failed to clear his lines, Ricardo Gardner fed Matthew Taylor and he arrowed a shot in off the far post.

Blackpool were living dangerously – Gilks saved at the feet of Daniel Sturridge and Davies chipped against the crossbar – but they regained their lead on the stroke of half-time as Adam picked out Campbell with a superb cross that the striker steered home from close range.

Bolton's manager, Owen Coyle, lamented his side's defending when he said: "I felt we did more than enough to be leaving with a minimum of a point but if you're going to defendthe way we did in the first half you're going to pay the price."

There were more twists and turns after the break. Davies's clever pass released Lee Chung-Yong to round Gilks and cross for Sturridge to nod Wanderers back level eight minutes after the restart. Bolton were on top, but Blackpool then got the winner that keeps hope alive.

Fittingly it came from Adam on what, as his waves to the crowd when substituted might suggest, could prove his farewell appearance at Bloomfield Road. Keith Southern won the ball inside his own half and the Scot took over, driving upfield, exchanging passes with Taylor-Fletcher on the edge of the box and smashing a shot into the top corner.

Old Trafford beckons, but the home fans were already singing: "This is the best trip I've ever been on."

Attendance: 15,979

Referee: Andre Marriner

Man of the match: Adam

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