Hartlepool 0-1 Blackpool: Five things we learned

The Blackpool players celebrate Mark Cullen's winner.

The Blackpool players celebrate Mark Cullen's winner.

3
Have your say

Blackpool FC writer Matt Scrafton takes a look at the key talking points from Pool's Boxing Day 1-0 win away at Hartlepool.

Storm Conor ruined Boxing Day

Well, not quite. But taking a quick glance at match reports from a handful of fixtures played on Boxing Day, Pool's game wasn't the only one blighted by the strong winds and cold temperature. At one point it became so ridiculous that Trevor Carson's goal kick got held up in the wind and almost flew back at him. The first half was especially poor, with the Seasiders opting to cross looped balls into the Hartlepool box that ended up yards away from their intended destination. They learned their lesson in the second half and kept the ball on the deck a lot more, but it's ironic the decisive moment came through Andy Taylor's hopeful punt upfield that dropped over the Hartlepool backline and fell kindly for Mark Cullen, who drilled the ball home.

Pool weren't impressive, but they're winning ugly

Although the aforementioned conditions certainly didn't help, Blackpool's performance was fairly laboured as they appeared to be dragged down to Hartlepool's level. It was an ugly win, but as I've said countless times before, it is these type of wins that prove to be the difference in this league. They did exactly the same at Stevenage earlier this month and it appears Gary Bowyer's men are learning that you can't be at your best and score four goals every week. When you travel to grounds such as Victoria Park, you know you're going to have to battle it out and do the dirty stuff if you have any thoughts of bringing home the three points. Fortunately they managed to do that, but it'll be exactly the same at Blundell Park for the trip to Grimsby on New Year's Eve.

Cullen is taking his chances

The striker's goal was virtually a carbon copy of the one he notched against Stevenage in Pool's 2-0 win - in the way he gambled on the defender making a mistake and nipped in to fire home. The 24-year-old is in somewhat of a mini purple patch, having netted twice in his last three games, but it is also his performances that are catching the eye. The former Luton man deserves his shot in the team having sat on the sidelines for the majority of the campaign. He's had to be patient but as he said during his post-match interview yesterday, not once has he questioned his ability to stick the ball in the back of the net and that confidence seems justified.

Seasiders react well to defeat

Yesterday's win was the perfect response to the defeat to Luton, but it shouldn't come as a surprise. Gary Bowyer's side are making somewhat of a name for themselves for bouncing back from disappointment - having won the following game after defeats to Plymouth, Accrington, Mansfield and now Luton. It can be easy to rack up two or three defeats in this league with the games coming thick and fast, as we've seen with Plymouth recently who are still second in the table despite losing three on the bounce in November. Pool are also yet to lose back-to-back games in the league this season, which is the sort of form that goes a long way in this league. It's easy

Pools are in deep trouble

Hartlepool are now without a goal in their previous five games, in a spell which has seen them suffer drubbings at the hands of Port Vale and Cambridge (4-0 and 5-0 respectively). They showed plenty of heart and desire against Blackpool, but they never really seriously threatened Sam Slocombe's goal - even from the penalty spot. There's a distinct lack of quality in their side and that told as they struggled to break down Blackpool's stubborn defence. Billy Paynter is obviously their talisman, but his legs appear to have gone. The North East outfit have only won five of their 22 league games this season, and the fans I spoke to acknowledge they could well be plying their football in non-league next season.