Vaughan nets in entertaining draw
James Vaughan’s fairy tale start to the 2013/14 Sky Bet Championship continued with the equaliser against Blackpool, to take his tally to ten goals in eleven games.
He and Town needed some inspiration, though, and they found it in 18 year-old Duane Holmes who leaped from the bench to provide the striker with a superb assist.
Ricardo Fuller had earlier put Blackpool ahead with a well taken finish as the visitors bossed the opening 45, during which Vaughan had a goal chalked off for offside.
Town’s comeback should have been complete seven minutes from time, though, but Vaughan smashed the bar with a spot kick.
Mark Robins unsurprisingly made nine changes from Town’s midweek Capital One Cup tie, with only Alex Smithies and Oliver Norwood retaining their places.
As a result, on loan Swansea defender Jazz Richards was handed his first start on home soil for the Terriers while fellow Welshman Joel Lynch overcame a knock to take his place in the backline.
Paul Ince’s men had already won twice on the road this season at Doncaster and Bournemouth respectively and started at the John Smith’s in a positive fashion.
Despite that, they didn’t have to work very hard for their first sniff on goal when Alex Smithies carelessly gifted them the ball; thankfully for the Terriers Peter Clarke was on hand to sweep up the danger.
James Vaughan was aiming to extend his lead at the top of the Sky Bet Championship goal scoring charts and he had an early chance to do so, but he could only fire wide from 12 yards following slick work from Oliver Norwood, Jon Stead and Adam Hammill.
A win would move Blackpool in the top two and as the game began to settle they looked the more likely team to go ahead – and in the 27th minute they did. Anthony Gerrard’s half clearance was headed forward to Ricardo Fuller by Kirk Broadfoot and the Jamaican showed extreme calmness and skill to round Smithies and Clarke before tapping into an empty net.
Town waited until the final minute of the half to show any kind of response, but it almost proved to be the equaliser. Stead’s ball was beautifully guided home by Vaughan on the run, but Town’s red hot striker was adjudged to have been in an offside position.
Just prior to that, Tom Ince had forced Smithies into a good save after working a yard up against Jazz Richards.
Jonathan Hogg was sacrificed during the half time interval as Town reverted to 4-4-2 and introduced Sean Scannell into the action.
It took the winger just short of ten minutes to get going, but when he did he left Craig Cathcart on the floor before finding Vaughan whose cross was superbly defended at the near post.
Robins’ next roll of the dice was to hand 18 year-old Duane Holmes his Championship debut, who had impressed during a cameo against Hull. His introduction sparked life into both the fans and the players and had it not been for another near post clearance, Scannell may have found a blue and white with his low cross.
Joel Lynch headed over moments later as Town’s ascendancy continued to grow, but they were almost dealt a sucker punch when Cathcart failed to hit the target with his head from six yards.
All that was inside five minutes and there was more to come in the form of an equaliser for the Terriers! Holmes picked up the ball 40 yards from goal and drove forward with intent before laying the ball on a plate for Vaughan to smash home his tenth of the season in superb fashion.
Thankfully, the game settled down after a frantic ten minutes as both teams tried to gather some air.
It sprung back into life with ten minutes to go, though, and once against Holmes was in the thick of it. The midfielder started a counter attack for Town, which ended in Angel bringing down Scannell in the box and being shown his second yellow. Vaughan shouldered the responsibility, but thundered the penalty against the bar as the scores stayed level.
Town pushed for a winner and Holmes almost capped a perfect night with a volley that went just wide of Gilks’ goal.
Town’s team (3-5-2):
Alex Smithies; Joel Lynch, Anthony Gerrard, Peter Clarke (c); Jazz Richards, Adam Clayton, Jonathan Hogg (Sean Scannell, 46), Oliver Norwood, Adam Hammill; Jon Stead (Duane Holmes, 57), James Vaughan
Ian Bennett, Calum Woods, Murray Wallace, Martin Paterson
Bookings Blackpool: Neal Bishop 48, Angel Martinez 53, 83, Jack Robinson 66, Gary MacKenzie 83, Ricardo Fuller 88