Battling Bristol City earn point in 0-0 draw at Blackpool
Bristol City dug deep to hold Blackpool to a 0-0 draw at Bloomfield Road and collect their first away point in the npower Championship since December 22.
Eager to end a sequence of six straight defeats on the road, the Robins fully deserved a share of the spoils, but a game played on a poor pitch will not linger long in the memory.
City threatened to break the stalemate when striker Steven Davies bundled the ball into the net midway through the second half, but his effort was ruled out for offside.
But the Robins will be delighted to have kept a first clean sheet away from home this season and they will go into Tuesday's home game against Brighton in upbeat mood.
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Despite taking a point, Sean O'Driscoll's side returned to the foot of the table after being overtaken by Peterborough, who won 3-1 at Blackburn Rovers.
But they gained ground on fourth-from-bottom Barnsley, who lost 3-2 at home to Bolton, and are now just two points adrift of safety with back-to-back home games to come against Brighton and Middlesbrough.
The much-maligned Bloomfield Road pitch lived up to pre-match expectations, sporting almost as much sand as the nearby beach.
With little option but to adapt their game-plan accordingly, both sides resorted to direct tactics, frequently playing long passes into the channels and inviting the strikers to chase rather than attempting to keep the ball on the floor and build from the back.
As a result, clear-cut goal-scoring opportunities were hard to come by and neither side was able to engineer a meaningful on-target effort during a frenetic opening period.
England Under-21 starlet Tom Ince was let down by is first touch when trying to connect with a nEil Eardley cross, while a Matt Phillips centre narrowly eluded the in-rushing Barry Ferguson as the Seasiders pressed.
But City were giving as good as they go and Steven Davies hooked a shot just wide as the visitors flexed their muscles.
Even the talented Ince was unable to overcome the conditions and his surging run from the halfway line came to nought as his pass went astray on a horribly uneven surface.
Davies arrived a split-second too late to take advantage of a searching ball from Greg Cunningham and, as half-time approached, neither goalkeeper had been called upon to make a meaningful save.
It remained that way as Paul Anderson, profiting from a break-out initiated by Stephen Pearson, cut inside and curled a shot over the bar from the edge of the penalty area.
Ironic cheers echoed around the ground when Ferguson mustered the first on-target effort of the game, Tom Heaton gathering his attempt comfortably.
City were first to create a chance of the clear-cut variety, Brendan Moloney splitting the home defence with a penetrating centre which Davies headed straight into the arms of Matt Gilks.
Blackpool responded with a counter-attack of their own, the persistent Ince presenting Angel Martinez with an opportunity to send a shot wide from 20 yards out.
The visitors thought they had broken the deadlock in the 66th minute when Gilks spilled Anderson’s bobbling shot and Davies bundled the ball into the net, only to be denied by an assistant's raised offside flag.
Still without a goal since taking charge at Bloomfield Road, Seasiders boss Paul Ince sent on striker Nathan Delfouneso in a bid to spark his side into life and the new arrival was agonisingly close to applying a finishing touch to a cross from Alex Baptiste.
Heaton was then called into action to turn away a towering header from Kirk Broadfoot as Blackpool raised the tempo in the final quarter.
City boss Sean O’Driscoll introduced Albert Adomah for the final seven minutes, but there was no way through a disciplined Blackpool defence.
Blackpool (4-4-1-1): Gilks; Baptiste, MacKenzie, Broadfoot, Crainey; Eardley (Delfouneso 66), Ferguson, Angel, Phillips (Taylor-Fletcher 83); Derbyshire; Ince.
Bristol City (4-4-2): Heaton; Moloney, Nyatanga, Fontaine, Cunningham; Anderson, Kelly, Elliott, Pearson (Skuse 87); Davies (Adomah 83), Stead.
Referee: Mick Russell (Hertfordshire)