Blackpool boss hails Cullen’s spot of courage

Penalty hero Cullen with Potts, who missed Pool's last spot-kick
Penalty hero Cullen with Potts, who missed Pool's last spot-kick
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Gary Bowyer paid tribute to Mark Cullen after the striker overcame his side’s recent penalty woes to step up from 12 yards and earn a vital three points for Blackpool.

Brad Potts had made it five penalty misses for Pool this season at Wycombe on Saturday, but Cullen made no mistake last night as he found the bottom corner to score the only goal of the game against Stevenage after 15 minutes.

The hard-fought win left Pool just one place outside the League Two play-off zone, though they remain three points behind seventh-placed Exeter, who beat Cheltenham 3-0.

Bowyer was keen to focus on the qualities of his players. “It was a great game,” he said. “It was two good teams on show. It was a proper battle and we’ve come through it with a penalty.

“The team has shown some wonderful characteristics that were needed – the first one being Mark Cullen stepping forward for the penalty because obviously we’ve had a couple of misses recently. He took the ball and I’m delighted it went in the net.

“It was interesting because the lad who gave it away (Jack King for handball) booted the ball away, so Mark had to fetch the ball from a long way away and compose himself. He did ever so well and put it away.”

The Seasiders were forced to throw bodies in front of everything in the dying stages as Stevenage looked to extend their own fine run of form, which has seen them lose just once in 10 games.

A delighted Bowyer added: “We’ve created chances, we’ve hit the post and we’ve had to withstand the ball being pumped into our box from every throw and every free-kick, and we stood up to it.

“We threw our bodies on the line to a man. At the end we had people on who shouldn’t have even been on the pitch. That just shows you how committed they are.

“We were organised, although we could have been better organised at times. There are still one or two areas we need to improve on from a defensive point of view.

“But credit to the players for the bravery they showed putting their bodies in front of the ball.”

The Pool boss revealed Potts was brought off as a precaution with a tight hamstring, while Jordan Flores also hobbled off with what appeared to be a slight knock.

The manager said: “We’ve travelled over 1,000 miles in the last couple of weeks and it takes its toll on the players.

“But we have the luxury of having the experience of Neil Danns and Ian Black to come on and I thought the pair of them were terrific.

“It just shows you the know-how and experience they’ve got to take the ball into the corner, slow it down, organise people and talk. That’s so valuable.”