Blackpool 3-0 Cheltenham: Five things we learned
Blackpool FC writer Matt Scrafton takes a look at the key talking points from the Seasiders' dominant win against Cheltenham.
Win couldn't have been much more convincing
There’s no such thing as a complete performance at this level and yet on Saturday against Cheltenham, Blackpool’s victory was as convincing as it was needed. As the old cliché goes, it’s only the result that matters at this stage of the season but the manner of Blackpool’s win will certainly please Bowyer and the Bloomfield Road faithful. Not only that, it will send out a clear message to their play-off rivals that they mean business and any potential nerves aren’t being felt just yet. We will see if that remains to be the case for the last two games. Pool settled any lingering nerves with two first-half goals but in truth it could and perhaps should have been more. Neil Danns hit the post with a low drive and also had a back post header well saved and there were a number of times when the ball pinballed across Cheltenham's six-yard box without anyone finding that final touch. But the Seasiders put in a professional display in the second half to wrap it up with a third goal.
Pool deserved a bit of good fortune
There were a few nerve-jangling moments at the start of Blackpool’s eventually dominant win against Cheltenham when the Seasiders spurned two or three good opportunities to open the lead. There would have been a few fans sitting in the stands who were thinking it might just not be their day after Neil Danns’ low shot thundered off the foot of the post, just moments after the midfielder had seen his back post header somehow kept out by the Robins ‘keeper Scott Brown. But after that, Cheltenham had to withstand something of a bombardment on their goal with crosses and balls coming into their box from all directions, but the final touch was missing. That was until Mark Cullen finally broke the deadlock just before the half-hour mark and from then on, it was clear there was only going to be one winner. The goal came in fortuitous circumstances with Jordan Cranston's clearance rebounding off Cullen straight into the net but it was just deserts for their first half display.
Defensive solidity provided the platform
As pleasing as it is to score three goals, Gary Bowyer’s men also ground out yet another clean sheet - their third in a row - to cap off an encouraging couple of weeks for the tangerines. Pool now find themselves right in the thick of it in the hunt for a play-off spot but it remains as tight as ever with two games now remaining, with just four points separating Blackpool and Colchester United in 12th. Currently, Pool are sixth and ahead of that all-important line and with their remaining home game against the already-relegated Leyton Orient seemingly a banker, their fate will surely rest on their trip to Notts County next week. If Blackpool are to pick up another positive result against the Magpies next week they will need to put in another impressive rearguard performance, as they did against Cheltenham. Tom Aldred and Clark Robertson dealt with everything that came their way and trust me, there was plenty of it. The Robins are a direct, physical side and don't mess about when it comes to getting the ball in the box. But Pool negated their threat completely.
Robertson's first goal long overdue
The visitors continued to struggle defensively after Cullen's fortunate opener, as they did all afternoon, and that was ultimately their downfall as the Seasiders doubled their lead with Clark Robertson smashing home his first goal of the season. It came after the Robins had failed to clear their lines once again following a goalmouth scramble, with Gary Bowyer’s men being denied twice before Robertson found the back of the net with a smart finish. That capped off a fine performance from Robertson, who excelled at the back alongside centre back partner Tom Aldred. As clinical as Pool were in attack, it was their defensive display that was perhaps the most impressive. Cheltenham came to pump balls in the Blackpool box but Aldred and Robertson dealt with everything that was thrown at them and eventually, the Robins’ physical threat mounted to nothing. It's quite surprising that Robertson, who goes up for every corner, took until the end of April to bag his first goal of the season. Goals from defence is something Pool have lacked this season, aside from Kelvin Mellor's seven-goal haul, and Gary Bowyer admitted as much after the match.
Colin Daniel brings natural width to the side
The Seasiders look a much better side when they have Daniel flying up and down the left-hand flank. The winger brought some much-needed natural width and the side looks a lot more settled and balanced with him in the team. He deserves credit for being unselfish and setting up Neil Danns for Pool’s third and final goal and he also played a vital role in Pool's opener, beating his man down the left before providing the cross which eventually ended up in the back of the net via a rebound off Cullen. Daniel has been one of Pool's best performers in recent weeks, whether that be on the left wing or at left back. He's one of those players who probably doesn't get the plaudits he deserves but there was no doubting he was one of the best performers against the Robins.