Francois Zoko's individual effort was enough to earn Blackpool a 1-0 victory over Cardiff City.
Seven-hundred and forty-six Cardiff City fans played their part in an otherwise sparsely populated Bloomfield Road in Friday night’s televised SkyBet Championship fixture.
Indeed, it was the noisy travelling contingent who almost had a goal to celebrate inside a minute. Neat link-up play between Ravel Morrison and Joe Ralls saw the former burst into the area, bearing down on goal; only the last minute intervention of full-back Donervon Daniels denied the England U21 international a strike at goal.
City started with confidence and a direct threat, working the channels well, particularly through Anthony Pilkington. In the 11th minute another great chance almost bore fruit, Sean Morrison connecting with a Whittingham set-piece to nod inches wide of former City ‘keeper Elliott Parish’s goal.
Substitution Blackpool: Joan Oriol replaced by Joel Dielna (14 minutes)
Blackpool’s best moments were coming in the air, specifically through Ismael Miller. The former West Bromwich Albion man had a good opportunity to test David Marshall in the 17th minute, though he was unable to get a true connection in front of goal.
The home side found a route into the game after a shaky opening 20 minutes, and arguably should have taken the lead in the 33rd. Only a last ditch Fabio tackle on Delfouneso kept the scores level, though the clear break through the defence gave the Bluebirds a stark warning of the threat they faced from being too open at the back.
A 42nd minute Peter Whittingham free-kick – central and 30 yards from goal – was the last real incident of the first-half. It was well-struck, though dipped just over Parish’s cross-bar without threatening the ‘keeper. A long-range Perkins effort that deflected off the offside boot of Miller in the closing moments could have had consequences, but for the flag of the nearside linesman.
HALF TIME: BLACKPOOL 0-0 CARDIFF CITY
It took a fair while for the second half to kick into life, neither side testing their opponents’ goalmouths significantly amidst a hostile Bloomfield Road environment. In the 58th minute however, City came close through each full-back – Fabio and then Brayford seeing their respective efforts deflected wide.
Substitution Cardiff City: Kenwyne Jones replaced by Federico Macheda (61 minutes)
But in the 63rd minute, against the run of play, Blackpool took the lead. The Tangerines broke from a Bluebirds corner, finding substitute Dielna in the left-wing position. He slipped Francois Zoko into the area with ease, turning Sean Morrison before firing low under David Marshall into the centre of the goal.
GOAL: BLACKPOOL 1-0 CARDIFF CITY (Zoko, 63 minutes)
Substitution Cardiff City: Ravel Morrison replaced by Adam Le Fondre (69 minutes)
Substitution Cardiff City: Joe Ralls replaced by Craig Noone (69 minutes)
Substitution Blackpool: Francois Zoko replaced by Nile Ranger (83 minutes)
The home side could have added a second goal late on when Miller played Delfouneso through on goal, the forward’s low effort was exquisitely saved by Marshall from less than five yards out to keep Cardiff in the match.
Substitution Blackpool: Eduard Oriol replaced by Jacob Mellis (90 minutes)
Substitute Adam Le Fondre could have punished Delfouneso for wasting a good opportunity in added time, but the former Reading man couldn’t beat Elliot Parish. The former City shot stopper’s Championship debut turned out to be a successful one as the Seasiders held on to pick up their first win of the campaign.
FULL TIME: BLACKPOOL 1-0 CARDIFF CITY
BLACKPOOL: Parish, Daniels, J. Oriol (Dielna, 13), Perkins, Zoko (Ranger, 83), Delfouneso, Miller, E. Oriol (Mellis, 90), Lundstram, Rentmeister, McMahon. Subs Not Used: Milton, Cywka, Mendy, Zenjov.
CARDIFF CITY: Marshall, Brayford, Fabio, S. Morrison, Manga, Whittingham, Gunnarsson, R. Morrison (Le Fondre, 69), Pilkington, Ralls (Noone, 69), Jones (Macheda, 61). Subs Not Used: Moore, James, Adeyemi, Maynard.