Bradford City 0-4 Blackpool: Armand Gnanduillet bags a brace as Seasiders reignite play-off charge
Armand Gnanduillet bagged a brace as Blackpool reignited their play-off charge with the perfect away-day performance against Gary Bowyer’s bottom-of-the-table Bradford City.
The Seasiders compounded the Bantams’ misery with an array of clinical finishing, Matty Virtue and Chris Taylor also getting in on the act with two well-taken finishes.
Gnanduillet had earlier given Pool the lead in the first half, heading home before directing an even better header into the back of the net for his second of the afternoon in the second period.
With Pool getting back to winning ways and play-off rivals Doncaster Rovers losing to table-topping Luton Town, it leaves Terry McPhillips’ men in eighth, just two points adrift of Peterborough United who have played the same number of games.
McPhillips rung the changes after last week’s humbling at Burton Albion, making five in total.
Christoffer Mafoumbi took the goalkeeping gloves in the absence of Mark Howard, who is now recovering from surgery after rupturing his Achilles in the 3-0 defeat at the Pirelli Stadium.
Curtis Tilt recovered from a hip injury to replace Donervon Daniels, who dropped out of the squad.
Antony Evans returned after being left out of the squad at Burton to replace Jordan Thompson, who is currently away on international duty with Northern Ireland.
Marc Bola and Nathan Delfouneso also came back into the side in place of Nick Anderton and Chris Long.
Ollie Turton, Jimmy Ryan and Max Clayton all remain sidelined with injuries.
Given the two sides’ poor recent form, it was no surprise there was a shortage of quality and confidence in the opening exchanges.
The first opening of sorts came after 13 minutes, when Armand Gnanduillet failed to hit the target with a header at the back post from Antony Evans’ corner.
The first bit of quality resulted in Blackpool taking the lead halfway through the opening period, Armand Gnanduillet heading home his 13th goal of the season.
The striker had Evans to thank though, the midfielder putting it on a plate for him eight yards out after working some space for himself down the left with a sublime bit of skill.
The Seasiders continued to have plenty of joy down that side of the pitch thanks to the pace and directness of Marc Bola, who was back in the side for the first time since picking up an injury in the draw at Sunderland.
Liam Feeney, still without a goal for Pool, squandered a huge chance to make it two as he narrowly curled over the bar with only the keeper to beat after Nathan Delfouneso had opened up the hosts with a surging run down the middle.
Blackpool had a similar opening five minutes into the second half, Matty Virtue given too much time to sprint down the middle of the pitch completely unopposed.
But this time the Seasiders didn’t allow the chance to go to waste, as Virtue lashed home a superb low effort which fizzed beyond the despairing dive of O’Donnell and into the bottom corner.
The home side were gifted a route back into the game when they were awarded a heavily disputed penalty.
But, moments after making a couple of superb reaction stops, Mafoumbi came to the rescue again as he clawed Eoin Doyle’s spot kick away from the bottom corner.
Doyle was again guilty of a poor miss when he failed to trouble Mafoumbi when the ball fell kindly to him from close range, but he could only hook wastefully over the bar.
Substitute Harry Pritchard was straight into the thick of the action, coming agonisingly close to adding a third as he diverted Bola’s left-wing cross agonisingly wide of the far corner.
But it wasn’t to matter, as just a minute later Gnanduillet bagged his second of the day, seeing his header rebound off the inside of the post and into the back of the net from Michael Nottingham’s cross into the centre.
Many Bradford fans saw this as the right time to leave the stadium in their droves, but it got even worse for them when sub Chris Taylor added a fourth.
It owed a great deal to Nathan Delfouneso, who drove forward before laying it off the midfielder who arrowed a 12-yard effort into the top corner for his first goal for the club.
Bradford: O'Donnell, Chicksen, O'Connor, Anderson (Wright), Akpan, Knight-Percival, Caddis, O'Brien, Payne (Butterfield), Ball, Doyle
Subs not used: Wilson, O'Connor, Clarke, Patrick, Devine
Blackpool: Mafoumbi, Nottingham, Heneghan, Tilt, Bola, Spearing (Taylor), Virtue, Evans (Pritchard), Delfouneso, Feeney, Gnanduillet (Kirby)
Subs not used: Boney, Anderton, Long, Dodoo
Referee: Antony Coggins