Blackpool, to their credit, refused to park the team bus on the edge of Matthew Gilks’ penalty area and instead took the game to their big-spending opponents. Charlie Adam and David Vaughan were allowed time and space in the centre of the Bloomfield Road pitch to pick their passes. Gary Taylor-Fletcher and Luke Varney were constant thorns on the wings but proved unable to produce a final ball of real quality for lone striker DJ Campbell.
For all of the Tangerines’ possession, Joe Hart didn’t have a save to make in the first half and they may have gone in at half-time a goal behind. A rare foray into the Blackpool third by City just after half an hour produced an opportunity for Emmanuel Adebayor. Had the Togolese striker been playing regularly, he may have done better than nodding it harmlessly wide.
Instead, Blackpool continued to exploit the wings without troubling England’s No 1. Whereas Everton converted their dominance of Liverpool earlier in the day into a lead, there was a feeling as the teams headed off that Blackpool may pay for not scoring.
The second period started in a similar vein to the first. Roberto Mancini’s side kept six men behind the ball, happy to allow Adam as much space as he needed rather than pressing the ball. Against Newcastle, Nigel de Jong made 27 interceptions but against Blackpool that was only 14. He wasn’t his terrier-like self and instead sat back, closer and closer to his defence.
With 53 minutes gone, Blackpool should have taken the lead. Varney won a race down the left wing and flicked a pass to DJ Campbell. Free of any challenges and in front of goal, Blackpool’s record signing fluffed his lines and the ball bobbled wide. All was almost forgiven minutes later when Gary Taylor-Fletcher put the ball in the net. The 29-year-old ran onto a long ball and beat Hart with a first-time finish only for the goal to be ruled out for offside. Elliot Grandin had tried to reach the ball before Taylor-Fletcher but even though he didn’t make contact, he was adjudged to have been active.
Soon after, Hart made saves from Adam and Eardley to keep the scores level before match-winner Silva was introduced in place of Adebayor. Within seconds of his first touch, the Spanish winger crossed for Tevez to open the scoring. The Argentinean looked to be in an offside position when the ball was crossed but the goal stood.
The wind was well and truly knocked from Blackpool’s sails and they took some time before finding their feet. Marlon Harewood, introduced for Grandin, steered Adam’s whipped free-kick into the corner of the goal to give the Seasiders hope but less than 25 seconds after drawing level Carlos Tevez smashed City in front again. Wayne Bridge, making a rare attacking run with the ball at his feet, broke towards the Blackpool area. The ball wasn’t cleared properly and a snap shot from the City captain restored the lead.
In the last ten minutes and with an unlikely win on their hands, Man City started to show their first signs of composure on the ball. Passes were exchanged at pace by a suddenly active Citizens midfield. James Milner, Tevez and Silva all rattled the frame of Gilks’ goal before the substitute danced past two challengers and wrapped up the game with the simplest of finishes. Taylor-Fletcher did score in the third minute of injury time but Ian Holloway’s side were unable to snatch a much-deserved draw.