Match report: Blackpool 1 Leeds United 1

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MIRCO ANTENUCCI’S tenth goal of the campaign earned Leeds United a point at League One-bound Blackpool in a scrappy 1-1 draw.

The United top-scorer lobbed home a leveller on 62 minutes, netting for the second game in succession after coming off the bench, to cancel out Gary Madine’s opener on the stroke of half-time.

The result extended Pool’s winless streak to 11 matches, but at least avoided a seventh successive defeat, while Leeds’ equalled their points tally on the road for the entire calendar year of 2014 with this draw.

It was an eminently forgettable game, with a draw a fair result, with Blackpool showing spirit if not much quality, with Leeds improved after bringing on Antenucci and Steve Morison.

A desperately poor surface, which resembled a beach, did not make for a condusive arena to play passing football and the spectacle was thoroughly dire in the first period.

Blackpool, to their credit, showed battling qualities and enthusiasm for the task in hand, but with precious little quality, apart from the moment which led to their opener just before the break.

A foul by Lewis Cook on Jose-Miguel Cubero yielded a free-kick in dangerous territory for Pool and Andrea Orlandi’s exquisite curling hit the crossbar, with Madine the first to react, heading in the rebound from close to the goalline for his three goal for the Tangerines this term.

It was reward for a workmanlike first half from Pool, who edged proceedings as Leeds struggled to get going at all and toiled on the unforgiving pitch.

Leeds had two moments worth mentioning, the first coming when a rare tidy passage of play saw Luke Murphy get to the byline and send over an inviting cross to the back post, with Sam Byram - who found the net on Wednesday - dragging a well-struck volley wide just before the half hour.

Not too long after, Charlie Taylor showed tremendous footwork to dance his way past a couple of challengers but Joe Lewis raced out of goal and blocked his effort.

Other than that, there was precious little else from Leeds, with Blackpool having the more dangerous moments.

Early on, Michael Jacobs was inches away from converting Orlandi’s low cross while Madine was left unmarked on the left, but couldn’t get a clean connection to a free-kick from Orlandi, the hosts main creative force.

Madine was also left in splendid isolation on the left later on in the half, but his pull-back was poor and Silvestri gathered.

It made for pretty lame viewing for the 1,600 Leeds contingent, augmented by a pocket of supporters resident in the home end, who were taken to the away end when they made themselves known early on.

The start of the second half didn’t get much better with Neil Redfearn, having seen enough, making a double change on 53 minutes with Morison and Antenucci entering the fray for Billy Sharp and Alex Mowatt.

For Blackpool, Madine, making a nuisance of himself, headed an early effort wide for the hosts, seeking a morale-booster in a thoroughly torrid season.

With away fans starting to get increasingly agitated, Leeds finally pieced together a worthwhile opener with Geatano Berardi’s cross not dealt with, with the ball dropping invitingly for Antenucci, who had plenty of the goal to aim at, but powered a volley over the top.

But relief was finally at hand for United and their top-scorer on 62 minutes when a cool finish from Antenucci restored parity with his tenth goal of the campaign, although some charitable home defending aided United’s cause.

A routine punt forward wasn’t dealt with, with Peter Clarke’s attempted headed clearance landing in the path of Antenucci, who lobbed over the stranded Lewis, with the efforts of ex-United loanee Darren O’Dea unable to prevent the ball going over the line.

It was the prelude to a period of United dominance, with Morison soon played in expertly by Antenucci, but Charles Dunne saved the day with a fine covering tackle.

At the other end, Miles Addison orchestrated a good opportunity for Lee Clark’s strugglers, with his low shot was held by Silvestri.

United made their third and final change on 75 minutes with Souleymane Doukara coming on for Charlie Taylor.

A brief disturbance arrived soon after when a pocket of Leeds fans made themselves heard in the Blackpool end, with a small outbreak of fighting soon ensuing with home supporters before police and stewards restored order.

Action on the pitch petered out somewhat, although O’Dea had to be alert to nick the ball from Morison, when he was well placed to shoot.

The best chance to win it fell to Blackpool, when Jacobs’ well-struck free-kick arrowed towards goal, with Silvestri clawing away his effort.

Deep into stoppage-time, Giuseppe Bellusci headed home following a breakaway, but the effort was ruled out for a foul by the Italian defender on Cubero in the build-up, with referee Scott Duncan having already pulled play back.

Jacobs fired a free-kick over the top shortly before the final whistle.

Blackpool: Lewis, Hall, Clarke, O’Dea, Dunne; Orlandi, Cubero, Addison, Perkins, Jacobs; Madine. Substitutes unused: Parish, Ferguson, Aldred, Oliver, Osayi-Samuel, Telford, Delfouneso.

Leeds United: Silvestri; Wootton, Bamba, Bellusci, Berardi; Murphy, Cook; Byram, Mowatt (Antenucci 54), C Taylor (Doukara 75); Sharp (Morison 54). Substitutes unused: Austin, Cani, Cooper, S Taylor.

Referee: Scott Duncan (Northumberland).