TOWN were unable to claim victory in their bottom-of-the-table crunch clash at Blackpool – but manager Ian Ross saw signs of brighter times ahead.
The creation of the Premier League meant Town were playing in the Second Division (what is now League I), and apparently suffering a hangover from the previous season’s play-off disappointment at the hands of Peterborough.
Going into match 15 at rain-lashed Bloomfield Road, where 3,441 watched, they had chalked up two wins and suffered nine defeats, including a 5-0 drubbing at Stockport last time out.
Billy Ayre’s Blackpool had exactly the same record, and were only above Town on goal difference.
Ross rang the changes for the trip to the seaside, bringing in Phil Robinson, his new £60,000 midfield signing from Notts County, as well as goalkeeper Tim Clarke, defenders Jon Dyson and Mark Wright and young striker Andy Booth.
The new kid on the block, making only his second league start, repaid his manager’s faith by putting Town ahead after 13 minutes.
Gary Barnett wriggled through a couple of challenges and freed Booth, who raced in on goal and took the ball around his old Town teammate (and current club physio) Lee Martin (pictured) before netting.
Town had the bit between their teeth and should have been further ahead after 34 minutes.
Ex-Evertonian Wright’s cross was met by Barnett, whose glancing header should have been on target but flashed just over the top.
Town were made to pay a minute before the break, when a slip by Simon Charlton, playing in midfield rather than at full-back, let in David Eyres, who squared the ball for Neil Mitchell to shoot home.
Town were back in front six minutes into the second half thanks to Mark Stuart.
The former Bradford, Plymouth and Charlton man slotted home from close range after a neat turn and cross from Dyson.
Iffy Onuora had a glorious chance to put Town 3-1 up five minutes later, but he missed the target from Robinson’s cross.
And Blackpool made the most of their let-off by levelling again after 55 minutes.
Tony Rodwell and Trevor Sinclair combined to rip a hole down the right and Eyres applied the finishing touch.
“We’re disappointed to have only drawn, because we had the chance to wrap the game up at two different times,” said Ross.
“But we played some bright stuff and after Stockport, the players selected gave the response I was after.
“I’m confident we can start getting things together.”