Sky Bet Championship: Blackpool keep up promotion battle with 1-1 draw at Birmingham
Blackpool ended their short spell without boss Paul Ince on the sidelines with a 1-1 draw with Birmingham.
Last Updated: 23/11/13 6:09pm
Paul Ince resumes full managerial duties next week following his enforced five-game absence in the knowledge that his Blackpool side are still well on course for promotion following a 1-1 draw with Birmingham.
Following their first defeat in eight games in their previous match against Ipswich they picked up a vital point in a game both teams could have won on the evidence of goalline clearances.
They ran up against some stern opposition in Birmingham and had to fight back after going behind to an opportunist 27th-minute goal from on-loan Jesse Lingard.
Ricardo Fuller was on the mark for Blackpool's 35th-minute equaliser after some scintillating work by Tom Ince.
In a brief purple patch following the equaliser Blackpool might well have won the game but Birmingham held on for a valuable point.
It was also the first time they have not been beaten by a top-eight club this season.
Inconsistent Birmingham, operating upon a shoe-string budget, have developed a reputation of winning away and slumping at home but on this occasion their honest endeavour enabled them to produce a performance of much promise.
This was demonstrated by their determination to avoid a third successive defeat at St Andrew's as they pressurised Blackpool in the early stages.
Blackpool, however, have a sturdy defence with a reputation for giving little away and the Seasiders were able to weather the initial storm.
They did have one lucky break when goalkeeper Matt Gilks, challenged by Nikola Zigic, tamely cleared the ball a few yards into the path of Jesse Lingard.
The on-loan youngster from Manchester United attempted to pick his spot but his low shot to the left of Gils was deflected just wide of the post.
Blackpool's attacking options were just as limited.
They relied a great deal on the pace of Tom Ince on the right but their best goalscoring opportunity in the first period fell to Fuller.
The Blackpool striker became involved in a race for possession with Birmingham goalkeeper Darren Randolph, and was upended as a result of the tackle.
Birmingham's attacking vigour eventually paid off in the 27th minute when Lingard made no mistake on this occasion.
Kirk Broadfoot attempted to control a cross from Paul Caddis but the ball dropped conveniently to the feet of Lingard who scored with youthful confidence from six yards.
The Ince-Fuller pairing combined effectively to produce Blackpool's 35th-minute equaliser when the striker was on hand to side-foot home the winger's right-wing cross for his third goal in 13 games.
Only a fine save a couple of minutes later by Randolph prevented Fuller notching a second goal as suddenly Blackpool found their attacking flair to put Birmingham at panic stations as illustrated when Stephen Dobbie shot narrowly wide.
Birmingham took off Callum Reilly four minutes into the second half and introduced their recent signing Dariusz Dudka. The Poland international immediately impressed with a powerful low shot which Gilks only saved at the second attempt.
Following a quiet spell Ince had Blackpool's best chance of winning the game when he rounded goalkeeper Randolph only to see Dan Burn bravely block the shot on the near post.
Blackwell did a similar rescue act for Blackpool to keep out a Lee Novak shot which had beaten Gilks.
Novak again beat Gilks with a looping header only to see the ball bounce clear off the bar.