Fans’ Panel: Great form, perfect timing

Pool scored four but Alex Baptiste was praised by our pundits for keeping Burnley at bay.
Pool scored four but Alex Baptiste was praised by our pundits for keeping Burnley at bay.
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THERE’S no bad time to hit top form, but the Seasiders couldn’t have timed it better.

Two wins over the past week have cemented that play-off spot and left our fans’ panel dreaming of a return to the promised land. Do you share their faith? Drop us a lien at tango@blackpoolgazette.co.uk.

CLICK HERE FOR OUR GALLERY OF POOL’S EMPHATIC WIN OVER BURNLEY.

DAVE WHITE

Firstly, huge congratulations go to the players and management for their fantastic achievements in reaching the play-offs once again. What might have proved a difficult season has turned into a fine campaign, betraying none of the attacking instincts brought to the club since the arrival of Ian Holloway.

As for the past week’s matches, winning both while scoring five goals and conceding none is exactly what we needed.

Leeds provided more resistance than Burnley and gave us a tough match. I thought that they were a very clever team – typical of a side managed by Neil Warnock– in that they knew exactly when to go down for a free kick and were in the ear of the referee at every decision that went against them. Had it not been for Andy Lonergan, they would have been behind at the break. Tough as it might be to give an ex-Preston player credit, he played quite well!

Having done what was necessary in that match, and backed up by a fine result elsewhere with Middlesbrough getting just a point, we went into the derby match knowing that a victory would seal the deal. Although I felt Burnley offered more up front than Leeds, and certainly created more chances, we were in a ruthless frame of mind and saw them off with some excellent play.

Dobbie’s goal was a supreme example of quick thinking at set-pieces, and from half-time onwards our march towards that top-six place was well under way. Lovely to confirm it against near neighbours! We now find ourselves fourth and I’d love to stay there to have the second leg at home. I’d like no let-up at Millwall – a win would keep us bang in form.

Man of match: Ince (Leeds), Baptiste (Burnley)

PHIL CORBETT

A great week for Blackpool in two contrasting games. Tuesday saw us battle to three points by defending well against a physical Leeds side who tried hard to stop us at all costs. The late goal from Martinez gave us a deserved win but it was close, with the result better than the style.

By contrast, in what was expected to be a close-fought local derby game, with pressure on to maintain play-off ambitions, the team prevailed with an abundance of verve and class, scoring four goals, but again keeping a clean sheet and playing well to a man, building on a great display from Gilks in the first half to go on and thrash Burnley. It’s a great time to get back into form, with a place now confirmed in the play-offs and the fans starting to dare to dream again.

By contrast, the majority of our rivals have hit a bit of a lean spell, so we’ll go into the games in confident form. Much of that is down to the manager keeping faith with certain players and also judiciously adding to the mix, whether by bringing back the likes of Martinez or loaning in Dobbie, who has added that spark to our attacking play.

All the squad know we have strength in depth in all positions and are playing well to keep their shirts.

Man of match: Martinez (Leeds), Taylor-Fletcher (Burnley)

FIONA MARTIN

IF there’s a way to secure a play-off spot, it’s to do it at home, putting four past your local rivals. Six points this week has really stamped our mark on the end of season.

On Tuesday we had to grind out the result, but it was a thrilling, entertaining game. In the end, we were good value for the win and we deserve credit for how we played, how we defended and mostly how we refused to allow ourselves to be brought down to Leeds’ level.

Saturday was different. At 1-0 we let Burnley back in the game, and they were on top for a lot of the first half. But when we re-emerged in the second half it was magnificent. We completely demolished them and 4-0 was the result that sealed it.

We can look forward now. We need to focus on Millwall, continue the form and, most importantly, try to finish fourth.

We’ve had a bit of a funny old season in part, but we saw in flickers what we were capable of. Of late we’ve managed to show it every week. A bit of balance, a bit of consistency, an improvement defensively and clearly a massive amount of hard work is what has done it.

It’s difficult to pick a man of the match at the moment, as everyone is turning in top-quality performances. This is a group of players worthy of standing on their achievements in their own right, not to be compared to predecessors – they’ve deserved it.

Now, we just need to keep going. Belief is building again. We have nothing or no-one to fear. Many people didn’t expect this from us this season, so to make the top six has been a good season. We’ve got our ticket, bring on Millwall, and let the good times roll. Believe.

Man of match: Ince (Leeds), Baptiste (Burnley)

PETER GILLATT

Blackpool signed off their regular season at Bloomfield Road with a flattering scoreline against our Lancashire neighbours Burnley to guarantee a play-off place.

It was pleasing revenge for the bruising 3-1 defeat at Turf Moor and ensured that Ollie regains the bragging rights with the locals around his East Lancashire home.

As with the late, single-goal victory over Leeds United, the whole of the Seasiders defence again stood up to be counted, aided by the reliable goalkeeping of Gilks.

Burnley were particularly dangerous, even as the Seasiders began to ratchet up the goals at the other end, and it meant Ian Evatt and Alex Baptise had to be on the top of their game throughout.

Eventually, like Leeds, the Clarets ran out of steam and Pool were able to coast home, with the bonus of yet another valuable clean sheet.

During the lap of honour I couldn’t help but think that it felt like only yesterday that a new but nervous-looking Pool kicked-off their Championship campaign at the KC Stadium, where Gary Taylor-Fletcher’s late wonder strike secured an unlikely three points.

Now the confident Seasiders are the form team, and with the inclusion of Angel Martinez and Stephen Dobbie, Ollie has them in just the right shape for the play-offs.

Whatever happens, it’ been a refreshing season to see young stars Tom Ince and Matty Phillips emerge, and seasoned professionals such as Kevin Phillips and Barry Ferguson wear the tangerine shirt with such pride.

Man of match: Ince (Leeds), Baptiste (Burnley)