Blackpool 3-0 Northampton Town: Five things we learned

Blackpool secured their first back-to-back wins since September in superb style
Blackpool secured their first back-to-back wins since September in superb style
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Blackpool FC writer Matt Scrafton takes a look at the key talking points from the Seasiders' convincing victory against the Cobblers.


Gary Bowyer was delighted with his side's display

Gary Bowyer was delighted with his side's display

Pool utterly dominant for the second game running

In many ways, this was a better performance than Bradford City on Saturday. That sounds bizarre when you consider the Seasiders thrashed the Bantams 5-0, but it is testament to just how well they have performed in these last two games - where they have scored eight goals and conceded none. For the second game running the Seasiders were utterly dominant, pretty much from start to finish, and on another day could have run in five or six goals. They certainly had the chances. Nathan Delfouneso had a shot that was cleared off the line - when it looked clearly over - while the woodwork was also rattled twice. Northampton can have no complaints whatsoever. The Cobblers had a couple of chances in the first half but that was it. In the second period they offered nothing, as they were too busy being penned back in their own half by a rampant Blackpool side who recorded their first back-to-back victories since September. What a time to do it as well, as it takes Gary Bowyer's side up into the top half of the League One table, a mammoth 11 points clear of the dropzone. In fact they're now closer to the play-offs than they are to the bottom four, which just illustrates how impressive their turnaround has been. Bravo.

Longstaff scores a trademark long-ranger

The on-loan Newcastle United man took his tally for the season to nine goals, eight of which have come in the league. That's some record for a 20-year-old midfielder playing his first season of professional football in England. It was a magnificent finish as well. He received the ball in space 30 yards out from goal, but there was still a heck of a lot of work to do to find the back of the net. But he made it look simple as it took a touch to get the ball out of his feet before lashing home into the top corner - giving the keeper no chance whatsoever. It was a trademark finish from a player that continues to thrive at Bloomfield Road. He had been threatening something like that all evening, as time and time again he managed to find those tiny pockets of space in between the midfield and the backline where he's proven to be so dangerous. A couple of times in the first half he looked to have a go from range only to see his efforts blocked. It was just a shame Longstaff didn't add a second, which would have made it double figures for the season, when he hit the inside of the post from close range after getting on the end of Jimmy Ryan's superb free-kick delivery. It was a much easier chance than his goal, but it seems the midfielder only scores long-range wonder strikes!

Armand Gnanduillet was in impressive form in attack

Armand Gnanduillet was in impressive form in attack

READ MORE: Give us the credit we deserve says Blackpool boss Bowyer

Solomon-Otabor gives the Cobblers a kicking

The winger has taken his game to a whole other level in recent weeks. He was superb on Saturday against Bradford, scoring an excellent solo goal that would have grabbed all the headlines in any other game - but instead Nathan Delfouneso deservedly took home all the plaudits for his hat-trick. But for me, Solomon-Otabor was by far and away the best player on the pitch against Northampton last night and fully warranted the standing ovation he received when he was subbed off towards the end. Poor Northampton right-back Shay Facey was given a torrid time all night, being turned inside out time and time again and getting no where near the winger. He was given the runaround for a good hour before being withdrawn and replaced by Shaun McWilliams, who didn't fare much better. Like Longstaff, the 22-year-old is another player who is still learning his craft and there's no better way of doing that than playing regular games, week in, week out. That's what the on-loan Birmingham City man is doing this season and you can clearly see it is paying dividends. He still needs to work on his end product but you can see that is already starting to come. In these last two games the winger has looked head and shoulders above League One level.

Gnanduillet's goal capped off a fine display

Armand Gnanduillet deserved his goal that came at such a crucial time for Blackpool - as they broke the deadlock just a couple of minutes before the interval. That gave them the freedom to come out in the second half brimming with confidence to push on and make sure of the points. It was a simple finish from the striker, as he tapped home from close range to convert from Jimmy Ryan's pullback, but he could have quite easily snatched at it to send it over or wide. But it was his all-round play that impressed the most. The Frenchman threw his weight around and didn't give the Northampton centre-backs a moment's rest. His hold-up play was much improved and allowed his teammates to get higher up the pitch, which resulted in the Seasiders spending the majority of the game in and around the Northampton box. The 26-year-old had a couple of chances in the second half to grab another, as he headed against the post from close range before blazing over the bar, but it wasn't to matter as the result was already sewn up at that point. It will be interesting to see if Gnanduillet starts in the Fylde coast derby against Fleetwood Town on Saturday or, if Kyle Vassell is fit, whether he comes back into the side...

Seasiders staying in League One

Gary Bowyer won't say it, but I will: Blackpool are safe. We've heard about all sorts of points targets in recent weeks. Normally it's 50 points which is the magical tally that will keep you up. But this season it looks like that bar will be raised slightly, maybe to 51 or 52. In any case, 53 should surely be enough. Even if it isn't, the way Blackpool are playing at the minute there's no way they won't pick up another point or two - and even that's being cautious. The Seasiders' superb back-to-back wins mean they are now actually closer to the play-offs than they are to the bottom four, so all the focus should be finishing in the top half of the table, not looking over their shoulders. That is some achievement from Gary Bowyer and his players, who deserve all the plaudits that come their way. Last night's win, coupled with Fleetwood's dramatic late victory against Oxford United, sets us up perfectly for Saturday's derby. Both sides go into the game full of confidence, knowing their League One status for next season is all-but confirmed. Hopefully that results in an entertaining, end-to-end affair full of goals, and not a drab 0-0 as we've seen for the last two meetings between the sides.