Blackpool dragged themselves off the bottom of the Championship last night with a huge 1-0 home win over Cardiff.
Francois Zoko’s 63rd-minute strike handed Jose Riga’s men their first victory of the season on a night dominated by supporter protests against the club’s owners, the Oyston family.
The win saw Pool leapfrog managerless Bolton, who could sent Riga’s side back to the bottom with victory over Bournemouth this afternoon.
And after a rapturous reception at the end of the game, Riga was full of praise for his players.
“I’m so proud of everyone at the club,” he beamed.
“We have been looking for that first win and we’ve been so close in recent weeks, so we really deserved it.
“We were the best team on the field last night and in the first half we totally controlled the game.
“Cardiff reacted a little after the break but I felt under control for the full game.
“I am delighted for all the people at Blackpool, from the groundsman to the players. Everyone deserves the win.”
While fans were all smiles at the end, there had been a toxic atmosphere around Bloomfield Road during the game, particularly around the 53rd minute, when some left their seats and headed for the exits in protest against the Oystons.
The majority stayed to watch the team march to victory and Riga thanked them for the support.
The manager added: “The supporters deserve the win so much. They deserve it as much as myself and my players.
“The vocal support in the second half really helped the players and it was a special moment to celebrate at the end.
“It was a night which will spur us on for the rest of the season and inspire us.”
Pool could have sealed the win a minute from full-time, when man of the match Ishmael Miller teed up Nathan Delfouneso only for the striker to see his golden chance saved.
Riga said: “We had a big chance to make it 2-0 but in the end we managed to get the win we deserved.
“The circumstances make the win even more special. We had some big players missing, then we had to take Joan Oriol off early on.
“The win is the product of a lot of hard work. This result had been coming.
“If we hadn’t scored the own goal against Norwich or hit the post at Middlesbrough, we could have got this result much earlier.
“In this game we managed to get the result. It’s about enjoying it now and then building on it.”
It was Pool’s first win in more than five months and their first at home since March. And Riga summed up everyone’s feelings when he said: “We all needed that win. It means so much to us all. Now we’ll build on this.”