Blackpool’s festive spirit delights Bowyer

Blackpool celebrate Mark Cullen's winner
Blackpool celebrate Mark Cullen's winner
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Gary Bowyer praised the spirit and character of his players as Blackpool dealt with the harsh conditions to return to winning ways at Hartlepool.

Striker Mark Cullen struck for the second time in three appearances as the Seasiders bounced back from their home defeat by Luton with a 1-0 victory in the north-east.

Conditions were almost unplayable at Victoria Park as both sets of players struggled to deal with the strong winds.

Pool were grateful for Lewis Alessandra’s late penalty miss for the hosts but boss Bowyer said he was proud of the way his players stood up to the challenge.

He said: “Today we have shown great character and spirit, and dealt with the conditions.

“This is never an easy place to come to. They are a good side who went to Portsmouth and drew 0-0 last week.

“Obviously the conditions didn’t help and we had to play to them a little bit.

“The wind was a major factor. You’ve seen on several occasions players struggling to clear the ball.

“But we said at half-time that a moment of quality might be all that was needed in a game like this and that proved so.”

The winner was scored after 64 minutes, with Cullen drilling a shot across the goalkeeper and into the bottom corner after racing on to a long ball over the top.

It means the former Luton man has scored in Pool’s last two away games, having also scored in this month’s 2-0 win at Stevenage.

And Bowyer was full of praise for Pool’s goalscoring hero. He added: “Mark had a great chance in the first half but he stuck at it and anticipated that clearance ever so well. He got himself on the end of it and put it away brilliantly.”

Pool survived a massive scare six minutes from time, when a penalty awarded against Tom Aldred for handball was blazed high over Sam Slocombe’s bar by Alessandra.

Bowyer said of the decision: “It’s a penalty all day long. I don’t know what Tom was doing but fortunately for us the lad has missed it.

“You’re certainly not going to get any arguments over the decision from me.”

The win keeps Pool in eighth place in the League Two table, just a point outside the play-off zone ahead of Saturday’s final game of 2016 – a return to the north-east to face Grimsby Town.