Blackpool 2-0 AFC Wimbledon: Armand Gnanduillet brace helps Seasiders back into League One play-offs
Armand Gnanduillet was the hero once again as Blackpool saw off AFC Wimbledon to move back into the play-off places.
The striker netted two second-half goals to break Wimbledon’s resistance and seal a richly deserved three points for the Seasiders, who have now won their last four in all competitions.
The men in tangerine were in control for the vast majority of proceedings against a spirited but fairly limited Dons outfit.
Gnanduillet, who scored 14 goals for the Seasiders last season, now has 12 to his name this term in mid-November.
The win sees Simon Grayson’s men, who are now unbeaten in their last six outings, move up to fifth place in the League One table, five points adrift of the top two.
Pool will also be delighted to keep a seventh clean sheet of the season in all competitions, with goalkeeper Jak Alnwick enjoying a fairly quiet day at the office.
Given Blackpool’s three-game winning streak, it was no huge surprise to see Grayson named an unchanged line-up.
Nick Anderton was the only absentee through injury, the left back continuing his recovery from a hairline fracture.
Rocky Bushiri, Christoffer Mafoumbi and Jordan Thompson were unavailable owing to international call-ups.
Despite making a fairly sluggish start to proceedings, Blackpool were the first side to threaten as they came within a whisker of breaking the deadlock after just seven minutes.
Sullay Kaikai was the man to go close, thundering a swerving effort onto the crossbar from the edge of the Wimbledon box.
The ball bounced back into the danger area where Nathan Deflouneso then hooked an effort over from eight yards out.
Kaikai turned playmaker for Pool’s next chance, as he slipped Matty Virtue through on goal only for the midfielder to get the ball stuck under his feet.
Virtue continued to bomb forward from midfield, drilling a low shot straight at keeper Nathan Trott after doing well to control a high ball on his chest.
It was all one-way traffic, as Pool continued to probe a Wimbledon defence that was set up to hold out for as long as possible.
Pool keeper Jak Alnwick was a virtual spectator until the 35th minute, when he was called into action to punch clear from Max Sanders’ vicious free kick.
But Alnwick was forced into an important save a few minutes later, getting down well to claim Terell Thomas’ powerful shot.
The start of the second half started just as how the first period ended, with the Seasiders desperately attempting to break down a stubborn Wimbledon side that were only too happy to sit back and frustrate.
Thankfully that all changed on 51 minutes when Pool finally found a way through courtesy of top scorer Armand Gnanduillet.
The Frenchman bagged his 11th of the season in clinical style, beating keeper Trott at his near post after latching onto Delfouneso’s through ball.
The goal came just two minutes before the ground broke out in a spontaneous minute’s applause in recognition of former Seasider Cyril Robinson, the last surviving member of Blackpool’s 1953 FA Cup winning side, who sadly passed away last week.
Despite going a goal down, Wimbledon remained cautious and refused to throw too many bodies forward.
This made for a fairly actionless affair, but the Seasiders remained professional while always looking for that killer second to put the game to bed.
And that goal came with nine minutes remaining, with Gnanduillet bagging his second of the game with a fairly simple finish.
The striker sent Bloomfield Road into raptures with his 12th of the campaign, tapping home from close range after assist king Liam Feeney put the ball on a plate for him at the back post.
Pool ought to have added a third in stoppage time, with substitute Joe Nuttall seeing his low shot palmed away by the goalkeeper to Kaikai, who was denied from close range.
There was still time for Wimbledon to waste a last-gasp opportunity to grab a consolation, with Alnwick pushing Kwesi Appiah’s long range effort away for a corner.
Blackpool: Alnwick, Edwards, Heneghan, Husband, Macdonald (Tilt), Feeney, Spearing, Virtue (Guy), Kaikai, Delfouneso, Gnanduillet (Nuttall)
Subs not used: Sims, Turton, Scannell, Hardie
Wimbledon: Trott, O’Neill, Thomas, McLoughlin (Hartigan), Delaney, Sanders (Reilly), Osew, Wagstaff, Pinnock (Appiah), Piggott, Forss
Subs not used: McDonnell, Gunness-Walker, Wood, Madelin
Referee: Andy Haines
Attendance: 7,588 (301 Wimbledon)