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Irvine defends Wallace celebration
Published : 01 Dec 2009 08:19:36
Billy Clarke, who became Ian Holloway's first signing in the summer after he was released by Ipswich, opened the scoring after just 27 seconds with a sweetly-struck shot from 25 yards. The 21-year-old striker went on to hit the woodwork twice in the first half but the Seasiders could not make their dominance pay and Wallace punished them with a fine goal seven minutes before the break. He was booked after he ran to the visiting supporters to celebrate and a steward appeared to get injured after being caught up in the ensuing melee, yet Irvine absolved his player of any blame. He said: "It was a fantastic free-kick and absolutely top class from Ross. "If we start to take celebration out of the game then it will be a poorer game. "Ross ran over to our fans but I can't tell from here whether he stepped off the pitch or stayed on the pitch. "But I certainly don't think that he was jumping over barriers to get to our supporters. "Our supporters understandably reacted in a very excited way and I believe that a steward got injured, which I'm extremely sorry to hear. "I hope he's okay but I don't think Ross did an awful lot wrong." Preston deserved credit for grinding out a result after being outplayed for the majority of the first half by Holloway's vibrant side. Irvine added: "We deserved a point. We got off to the worst possible start but full credit to the lads, they showed a lot of character, determination and courage to stay in the game at a time when it could have gone away from us. "Gradually we worked our way back into it and deserved to come away with something." The result lifted Blackpool into sixth spot but Holloway was left furious with the free-kick decision that allowed Wallace to fire Preston level. Holloway said: "There was a blatant foul on Marcel Seip just beforehand and what he gave that free-kick for I do not know. "But other than that, I thought we were fantastic and I thought it was a moral victory for Blackpool over Preston, even though there is a long way still to go this season. "I'm very proud of my team, my ground, my pitch and the way we tried to play. "If that's my first taste of this derby then I can't wait for a few more." Holloway reserved special praise for Clarke, adding: "He's got fantastic talent and as long as he believes himself in the future then he'll have no worries. "He's hungry, he wants to play and he's only 21, but I'm really pleased with my whole team."