Blackpool FC writer Matt Scrafton takes a look at the key talking points from the Seasiders' dramatic late win against local neighbours Fleetwood Town.
Seasides deserved late victory - and what a way to earn it!
They had to come from behind to secure their hard-earned three points, and we had to wait until the fourth and final minute of stoppage time for the winner, but I don't think too many can deny Blackpool deserved their Derby Day win today. If we're being generous, the first half was competitive if a little dull. If we're being harsh, and perhaps a bit more truthful, we'll label it a complete non-event. The two sides cancelled each other out and the only talking point, or chance for that matter, was Jay Spearing’s superb 30-yard effort that clattered onto the foot of the post. With the stern words of Gary Bowyer no doubt ringing in their ears, Blackpool came storming out of the blocks at the start of the second half. They were a changed team. In fact, they played like the side we watched beat Bradford City and Northampton Town so convincingly. Chances cane and went and, as the game struck the hour-mark, you're beginning to think if today might just be one of those days. That feeling only worsened when Fleetwood broke the deadlock on 75 minutes through Wes Burns' close-range strike. Although Viv Solomon-Otabor's leveller came on 88 minutes, you just knew another chance would come their way. Thankfully it did and Armand Gnanduillet stuck it away expertly to seal a deserved victory.
Wes Burns' miss proved to be pivotal
After missing a glut of chances, Blackpool suffered the ultimate kick in the teeth when Fleetwood took the lead with just 15 minutes left all thanks to a defensive mistake. Colin Daniel, who up until that point had been enjoying a solid game, misjudged a high ball as Blackpool’s last man. That allowed Jordy Hiwula the chance to race through on goal, round Joe Lumley before hitting a shot against the post - only for the ball to rebound into the path of Wes Burns whose shot ended up in the back of the net via a fortuitous deflection. One nearly became two as Burns found himself through on goal with the chance to complete a Derby Day double - but his chip over the onrushing Lumley went wide of goal when it looked easier to hit the target. That miss proved to be the pivotal moment in the game. Score that and Fleetwood would surely have gone on to record their first ever win against Blackpool. But as it turned out, it only seemed to spur the Seasiders on to fight their way back into the match.
Substitutes made a difference
Buoyed by Bowyer’s hat-trick of substitutions - Mark Cullen, Dolly Menga and Armand Gnanduillet - Pool launched attack after attack on the Fleetwood goal as they searched for a route back into the game. That pressure eventually paid off as Solomon-Otabor, previously wasteful in front of goal, showed wonderful technique to lash a volley into the roof of the net on the turn. Although that goal came on 88 minutes, you just knew that wouldn’t be it. There would be another twist in the tale - and it came Blackpool’s way. Two of Bowyer’s substitutes combined, Menga delivering a superb, teasing cross to Gnanduillet to head home into the bottom corner in the fourth and final minute of stoppage time to send the home sections of Bloomfield Road into pandemonium. I noticed some fans had questioned the timing of Bowyer's substitutions, especially as Fleetwood had already made all three of their allotted changes before Blackpool had made any. But there's no denying the effectiveness of Blackpool's changes when they did come...
It was great to see Gnanduillet get another goal
With the luxury of a virtually fully-fit squad to choose from, Gary Bowyer was given the ultimate decision to make when it came to today's line-up. Stick with Armand Gnanduillet, the man who scored and played so well in Blackpool's 3-0 win against Northampton Town? After all, we all know about the old adage of not changing a winning team. Or, do you bring back your top scorer, the man who terrifies opposition defences and makes such a difference to the team when he plays in Kyle Vassell? Bowyer opted to go with Vassell. It was harsh on Gnanduillet but such is the ruthless nature of football. I can see why he did it and I probably would have done the same. But as it turned out, Vassell didn't have the greatest of games. He did little wrong but things just didn't seem to be going his way and he wasn't having the same effect on the match as he normally does. On 79 minutes, Armand Gnanduillet entered the fray. Strikers coming off the bench are paid to make an impact - and that's exactly what he did, climbing highest to get on the end of Dolly Menga's cross before steering a superb header into the bottom corner. The Frenchman can only continue to play well and get goals when he's given the opportunity. Right now he's doing that.
Derby day victory caps off the perfect week
The nine points gained from Pool’s three home games in the space of a week have propelled the Seasiders away from the danger zone and into the top half. In fact, Gary Bowyer’s men now sit 10th, eight points off the play-offs. Okay, Blackpool only have three games left to play so the top six is certainly out of sight, but Blackpool’s goal this season has always been to avoid relegation. That will be achieved. The fact Blackpool have such a major buffer to the dropzone, 11 points and 10 sides in between themselves and the bottom four, shows just what a remarkable turnaround it’s been from Bowyer and his players. Normally, coming from behind to beat your local rivals with a stoppage time goal would be enough to keep you satisfied. But the fact it finished off a week which included three wins, 10 goals and just one conceded makes it all the sweeter. And if there’s one way to win a derby, it’s a stoppage time winner. Winning 5-0 and 3-0 is great when you can do it, but there’s no side in existence who can maintain that sort of form for an entire season. Sometimes these sort of victories are all the more sweeter, especially when they come against a side situated just down the road who are yet to record a victory against you.