Huddersfield Town 3-2 Blackpool: Jordan Gabriel’s needless red card costs Seasiders in pulsating Boxing Day clash

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Blackpool threw away a lead to lose to Huddersfield Town in a pulsating Boxing Day encounter.

 

The Seasiders were deservedly leading at the John Smith’s Stadium and looked to be heading to a second straight victory.

But that all changed on the hour-mark when Jordan Gabriel was shown a second yellow card and needlessly sent off for a foolish challenge by the touchline.

Leading 2-1 at the time, Neil Critchley’s men would later concede twice in the space of four minutes to suffer a cruel defeat on the road.

Jerry Yates had earlier put them in front inside the opening 60 seconds with his second goal in as many games, while Gary Madine restored Pool’s lead after the visitors had been pegged back.

Blackpool’s team selection was impacted by a handful of positive cases and some injuries, although the disruption was kept to a minimum.

Reece James, Ryan Wintle and Shayne Lavery dropped out of the starting line-up as Critchley made three changes to the side that beat Peterborough United last week.
The Seasiders were leading before Jordan Gabriel's needless dismissal

The Seasiders were leading before Jordan Gabriel’s needless dismissal

The main talking point was the emergence of Daniel Gretarsson, who was handed his first league start of the season in the centre of defence.

That saw James Husband move back over to left-back in James’ absence.

Elsewhere, Sonny Carey replaced Wintle in the centre of midfield after coming off the bench to score against Posh last week.

Yates, who also found the back of the net after coming on as a substitute, was rewarded with a start in place of Lavery.

James and Wintle weren’t named in the squad at all, but Richard Keogh was named among the substitutes after recovering from Covid.

Demetri Mitchell, CJ Hamiton and Tyreece John-Jules all came back into the fold and were named among the subs.

Callum Connolly and Owen Dale, who were both on the bench against Posh, weren’t involved in the 18.

Chris Maxwell (quad), Luke Garbutt (knee), Kevin Stewart (ankle), Matty Virtue (ACL) and Grant Ward (achilles) all remain sidelined.

Huddersfield, meanwhile, made one change to their side from their 3-2 win against Bristol City, as Levi Colwill missed out through illness.

Blackpool were roared on by 2,300 Seasiders in the sold-out away end, while the Terriers were also backed by a healthy home following – making for a rip-roaring start to the traditional Boxing Day encounter.

The Seasiders couldn’t have dreamed of making a better start, as they broke the deadlock with their first attack of the game inside the first 60 seconds.

The goal was created by Josh Bowler, who pounced upon a poor pass out from the back to slip in Jerry Yates, who kept his composure to drill across Lee Nicholls and into the far corner for his second goal in as many games.

Unfortunately Blackpool’s lead lasted just two minutes, as Danny Ward levelled with a planted header into the top corner which left Dan Grimshaw rooted to the spot.

Just as the game appeared to be cooling off a little after the electric start, Blackpool restored their lead after 18 minutes.

Gary Madine was the man to get it, picking out the bottom corner with a downward header that Nicholls couldn’t deal with despite getting a strong hand.

But the goal was owed to Keshi Anderson, who did superbly in the build-up to beat his marker on the edge of the box before lofting an exquisite ball to Madine at the back post.

History almost repeated itself with Ward coming within inches of levelling for a second time, but on this occasion just two minutes after Blackpool’s goal.

The forward, who could well have been in an offside position, stretched his right leg out desperately to get a touch onto Lewis O’Brien’s dragged shot, but he couldn’t quite stretch far enough.

Pool were given a major let-off midway through the opening half when a left wing cross deflected kindly into the path of Duane Holmes, who somehow managed to blaze over from just 10 yards out.

By the same token, Blackpool could easily have made it 3-1 when Anderson missed a glorious chance to extend his side’s lead.

The chance was created by Yates, who waited and waited before picking out the unmarked Anderson with a defence-splitting back, but the winger could only head wide from point-blank range.

Pool looked so, so dangerous on the break, but another presentable opportunity came and went when Jordan Gabriel headed wide at the back post after Yates had flicked on Sonny Carey’s cross.

The game was then delayed for a good six or seven minutes to allow medical attention for Tom Lees, who had gone to ground following an accidental collision with Madine.

The defender was stretchered off the pitch to applause from both sets of fans before being replaced by former Seasider Ollie Turton.

The long delay resulted in 10 minutes of time being added on at the end of the first-half, time which allowed Blackpool to create another good chance to extend their lead.

The opportunity came on the counter-attack once again, as Bowler pulled the ball back into the path of Carey whose swerving, vicious effort from the edge of the box was well saved by Nicholls.

Carey also had the first chance of the second-half, arriving late on the edge of the box once again only to see his shot from Bowler’s pullback well blocked.

The Seasiders were controlling the game relatively well until the hour-mark, when their plans were rocked by Jordan Gabriel’s dismissal.

The full-back could have few complaints about his second yellow having gone in late on Lewis O’Brien by the touchline.

Critchley immediately re-shuffled the pack, bringing on defenders Richard Keogh and Dujon Sterling for Bowler and Yates.

A minute prior to that, Huddersfield sub Jordan Rhodes had headed home only to be denied by the linesman’s raised flag.

Blackpool were holding on well and, despite being down to 10 men, still managed to provide an attacking threat.

But, despite being afforded an extra sub because of the new concussion protocol, there were some tired bodies out there.

It finally caught up with the men in tangerine 10 minutes from time, when Sorba Thomas was allowed to waltz into the box before firing past Grimshaw.

It was then only a matter of time until Huddersfield completed their turnaround and lo and behold, four minutes later Thomas rifled home to put the home side in front.

The Seasiders threw everything they had at the home side in the final stages, even throwing Marvin Ekpiteta up front in injury time.

But they were unable to forge another opportunity and were left to rue Gabriel’s moment of stupidity.

TEAMS

Huddersfield: Nicholls, Pearson, Sarr (Rowe), Lees (Turton), Thomas, Toffolo, O’Brien, High (Rhodes), Sinani, Ward, Holmes (Koroma)

Subs not used: Schofield, Ruffels, Russell

Blackpool: Grimshaw, Gabriel, Ekpiteta, Gretarsson, Husband, Dougall, Carey (Mitchell), Bowler (Sterling), Anderson, Yates (Keogh), Madine (Lavery)

Subs not used: Moore, Hamilton, John-Jules

Referee: Jeremy Simpson