Southend were seconds away from a vital win on the road before a Taylor Moore own goal in the sixth minute of stoppage time meant the points were shared in a 2-2 draw at Bloomfield Road.
In front of a bumper home crowd of almost 16,000, Southend took the lead midway through the first-half with Rob Kiernan heading in his first Blues goal from a Sam Mantom corner.
Blackpool would level matters shortly after when Armand Gnaduillet thundered the ball into the roof of the net sparking wild celebrations by the formerly exiled Tangerine fans.
But Southend would score again from a corner early in the second-half as Michael Turner flicked on another Mantom set-piece to put the visitors back in front.
Nathan Bishop pulled off a superb fingertip save from Ollie Turton to keep Chris Powell’s side in front until Moore headed the ball into his own net in the final seconds.
The nature of the equaliser and the subsequent pitch-invasion rounded off a day to remember for Blackpool as a huge sign over the dugouts read “Blackpool are back”, although the two points dropped could prove pivotal for Southend in the run in.
Southend’s appearance at Bloomfield Road had appeared to be nothing more than a side note on what was always going to be a momentous day for Blackpool and their fans, as their self-imposed exile from the club ended following the introduction of a new board.
There was a carnival atmosphere inside and outside the ground ahead of kick-off with the home players being greeted with thunderous applause, even for the warm-up, and they came into the game with renewed confidence following a midweek win over Accrington Stanley.
Blues travelled in the hope of gate-crashing the party and Chris Powell made four changes in an attempt to try and end Southend’s seven-match winless run. Charlie Kelman, Luke Hyam, Harry Lennon and Rob Kiernan – making his first start since August 2017 – all came in.
Blackpool had the majority of the early possession and Nathan Bishop had to be at his very best to stop Harry Pritchard from scoring from the edge of the area, tipping his curling effort away for a corner, before Curtis Tilt was denied by a Michael Turner clearance on the line.
Southend had had to weather a bit of an early storm which Powell’s side would have expected in front of a such a partisan home crowd, but Blues would, momentarily, silence the Bloomfield Road crowd as they took the lead through Rob Kiernan.
The centre-half, who’d been out of action for well over a year following surgery on both his knees, rose highest to head in Sam Mantom’s corner kick at the far post and was subsequently mobbed by the rest of the Blues players as Southend went in front midway through the half.
But that advantage didn’t last long as Blackpool were level seven minutes later. Armand Gnanduillet was picked out inside the penalty area and rocketed the ball beyond Bishop at this near post and into the roof of the net as Bloomfield Road erupted.
Gnanduillet was involved again moments after grabbing the equaliser and went close to grabbing a second when he headed Pritchard’s cross to the far-post over the crossbar as Blackpool finished the half in the ascendancy.
The home side thought they had briefly thought they’d grabbed a second when Bishop appeared to drop the ball over the goal-line only for the referee to rule it out for a foul on the Blues ‘keeper with Southend having to put in some last-ditch defending in injury-time to keep it level.
Right from the restart, Blackpool went close to taking the lead when Ollie Turton was found with acres of space inside the penalty area, shooting across the face of goal and narrowly missing the far post as well as the outstretched leg of Gnanduillet.
But just like the first-half, Blues would make the most of a set-piece as Michael Turner scored his first goal of the season. The centre-half got on the end of a near-post corner by Mantom, delicately flicking the ball up and over Mark Howard and in to put Southend back in front.
Blackpool quickly set about finding another equaliser and some pinball inside the penalty area almost resulted in a fortunate leveller before Mantom hacked the ball clear on the goal line, before substitute Chris Long forced a smart save from Bishop at his near post.
Matty Virtue then saw his curling effort well held by Bishop before Blackpool had a huge appeal for a penalty go begging when Bishop came rushing out of his goal and looked like he brought down Long only for the referee to book the striker for simulation.
The home side continued to push for an equaliser and only a superb fingertip save from Bishop kept Blackpool at bay as the young goalkeeper tipped Turton’s swerving effort over the crossbar as the noise level rose another notch.
Southend though had the chance to seal the victory when Simon Cox beat the offside trap to be clean through on goal in the final minute of normal time, only for the striker to see his goalbound effort saved by Howard.
Five minutes of additional time were shown with Blues camped in their own half defending ball after ball coming into the box, but they couldn’t hold on as Jordan Thompson's cross rebounded in off Taylor Moore, nestling into the bottom corner with the final touch of the game.
A pitch-invasion ensued with the referee choosing not to restart the match leaving Blues once again ruing a late goal that this time cost them potentially two vital points ahead of Tuesday night’s trip to Scunthorpe.
Blackpool XI: Howard, Anderton (Daniels 60’), Heneghan, Delfouneso (Thompson 81’), Spearing (C), Pritchard (Long 60’), Tilt, Virtue, Turton, Gnanduillet, Feeney. Subs Not Used: Boney, Evans, Dodoo, Taylor
Blues XI: Bishop, Bwomono, Hyam, Turner, Dieng, Cox (Bunn 90’), Kiernan, Mantom (C) (Moore 84’), Lennon, Kelman (Demetriou 73’), Hart. Subs Not Used: Smith, Kightly, Yearwood, Wabo
Referee: Chris Sarginson
Assistants: Anthony Moore & Nik Barnard
Fourth Official: Joe Simpson
Blackpool: Armand Gnanduillet 27’, Taylor Moore OG 90+6’
Southend United: Rob Kiernan 20’, Michael Turner 48’
Blackpool: Chris Long 76’
Southend United: Simon Cox 36’, Luke Hyam 65’, Jason Demetriou 66’
Attendance: 15,871 (373 Away)