Blackpool 1-0 Barnsley: Shayne Lavery strikes again as Seasiders claim back-to-back wins in comfortable fashion
Shayne Lavery’s sixth goal of the season helped Blackpool beat Barnsley to claim their first back-to-back wins of the season.
The Northern Irishman struck midway through the opening half to hand the Seasides another deserved three points, building on last week’s victory against Middlesbrough.
The win sees Neil Critchley’s men move away from the danger area and up to 14th in the Championship table, sitting on 11 points, six points clear of the bottom three.
The hosts looked the hungrier side throughout and never really looked in danger against a Barnsley side that struggled to trouble Chris Maxwell in the Blackpool goal.
The men in tangerine had chances to build on their lead, but in the end one goal proved to be enough as they held on for one of the most comfortable 1-0 wins you’re likely to see.
Neil Critchley, usually a tinkerman who likes to spring the odd surprise with his team selection, opted to name an unchanged side from the team that beat Middlesbrough at the Riverside last weekend.
The only change in Blackpool’s 18-man squad was the return of Demetri Mitchell to the bench following his recovery from a foot injury.
The winger has yet to make an appearance this season having suffered the setback in the pre-season friendly at Morecambe.
Jordan Gabriel was the man to make way and drop out of Blackpool’s squad.
Reece James (foot), Matty Virtue (ACL), Grant Ward (achilles), Kevin Stewart (foot), Owen Dale (foot) and CJ Hamilton (foot) all remain sidelined.
Teddy Howe, Oliver Sarkic, Bez Lubala and Joe Nuttall, meanwhile, continue to be left out having not been registered in Blackpool’s squad.
Barnsley, who began the day level on points with the Seasiders having drawn five of their eight league games, made five changes to the side that drew 0-0 with Blackburn Rovers last time out.
Buoyed by a healthy away following of just under 3,000, the away side were the first to threaten through Ben Williams’ deep cross, which Callum Brittain couldn’t quite head back towards goal.
The Seasiders responded well though and, on six minutes, almost took a vital early breakthrough through Shayne Lavery.
The good work came from Keshi Anderson to set up the chance though, as the winger beat his man for pace down the left flank before cutting the ball back into the path of Lavery, whose close-range shot was well saved by Brad Collins.
A minute later, Lavery almost turned provider as he threatened with a similarly penetrating left-wing run, only for the visitors to desperately clear behind.
During a pulsating start, Pool were fortunate to escape when a short Barnsley corner caused mayhem inside the six-yard box.
The visitors had a couple of bites at the cherry after Liam Kitching had headed the ball back towards the danger area, but the hosts were somehow able to desperately scramble clear.
After the frantic nature of the opening 10 minutes, the pace and tempo of the game just dropped off a little as the half wore on - but there was still nothing to separate the two sides.
Midway through the half, Pool forced Barnsley keeper Collins into another big save, this time denying Luke Garbutt his first goal of the campaign.
It came after the tireless closing down of Lavery saw the Seasiders win the ball back high up the pitch. Anderson was picked out in space down the left, where he remained patient before noticing the run of the overlapping Garbutt.
The left-back’s initial cross was blocked, but the ball rebounded to him in front of goal giving him a shooting opportunity, albeit from a tight angle. But Collins did well to stand tall and smother Garbutt’s effort.
Blackpool were the side looking more likely to score though and, lo and behold, that goal came just after the half-hour mark.
The goal was dispatched in clinical fashion by Lavery, who latched onto a ball into the left channel before opening his body to create a better angle.
Lavery duly picked out the far corner, giving Collins no chance, to give Pool a deserved lead The game almost turned on its head on the stroke of half-time with both sides going close to scoring the game’s second goal.
The first fell the way of Tyreece John-Jules, who was slipped through on goal only to be denied by Collins after the Seasiders had played through Barnsley’s ranks with ease.
The Tykes, who had barely threatened all half, almost made Blackpool pay for that miss with the following move of the game.
Victor Adeboyejo initially did well to nip the ball past Richard Keogh to create the opening, only to see his low effort superbly saved by Maxwell.
The two sides traded ambitious long-range efforts at the start of the second period, Callum Styles dipping an effort a yard or two over Maxwell’s bar while Anderson dragged wide of the Barnsley goal at the other end.
Not for the first time, Anderson and Lavery combined well to create an opening for the latter, whose tame effort was easily saved by Collins.
Pool, still well on top, then broke with speed and numbers from a Barnsley corner, only for the counter to break down at the all-important moment when Anderson’s pass to Garbutt was intercepted by a defender.
The more men Barnsley committed forward, the more space opened up for the hosts to exploit on the counter.
The Seasiders averted danger just after the hour-mark when Maxwell sprinted off his line quickly to intercept a dangerous ball over the top of Pool’s backline, which looked to be heading straight to Cauley Woodrow.
With 20 minutes to see out, Critchley turned to the bench to freshen up his team, replacing John-Jules with Gary Madine.
Another half chance went begging for the hosts when the increasingly impressive Marvin Ekpiteta nodded Garbutt’s deep free-kick back towards the six-yard box.
It fell kindly for Lavery, but the striker couldn’t quite get the ball under control and it ricocheted off his shin pads and behind for a goal kick.
A rare Barnsley venture forward ended with substitute Clarke Oduor dragging his shot comfortably wide of the upright.
The Tykes began to threaten more and more as the clock slowly ticked towards the 90.
First, Maxwell was required to make a crucial save to deny Woodrow after a cross had inadvertently deflected into his path.
Then, a Barnsley corner fell kindly for the unmarked Michal Helik, but he could only head wide unopposed.
Pool moved to five at the back for the final 10 minutes, as Critchley brought on an extra defender in James Husband.
Demetri Mitchell, meanwhile, was handed his first appearance of the season in place of Josh Bowler.
In the final minute of the 90, Barnsley had desperate appeals for a penalty waved away by the referee.
Aaron Leya Iseka was the man to go to ground under a trailing foot, but the Barnsley man was actually booked for simulation, with the Seasiders awarded a free-kick instead.
Pool saw out the remaining three minutes of stoppage time with ease, leaving Critchley and co to celebrate another fine victory with the North Stand.
Blackpool: Maxwell, Sterling, Keogh, Ekpiteta, Garbutt, Dougall, Wintle, Bowler (Mitchell), Anderson (Husband), John-Jules (Madine), Lavery
Subs not used: Moore, Connolly, Carey, Yates
Barnsley: Collins, Moon, Helik, Williams, Styles, Kitching, Frieser (Oduor), Brittain, Benson (Palmer), Adeboyejo (Leya-Iseka), Woodrow
Subs not used: Walton, Williams, Sibbick, Gomes
Referee: Stephen Martin
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