Blackpool's Mark Cullen back on the goal trail after 15 months

Mark Cullen celebrates his goal against Portsmouth
Mark Cullen celebrates his goal against Portsmouth

His goal might have proved in vain but Blackpool’s Mark Cullen spoke of his delight at finding the net for the first time since his play-off final winner 15 months ago.

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The striker endured an injury-hit 2017-18 season, making just nine appearances after hamstring surgery.

The 26-year-old is back to full fitness and marked his first appearance of the season with Pool’s goal in Saturday’s 2-1 home defeat by Portsmouth.

His previous goal in tangerine was that winner against Exeter City at Wembley which secured Pool’s return to the third tier.

Cullen has now been officially credited with Saturday’s late strike after replays showed he got the final touch, though it was initially recorded as an own goal by Pompey’s Matt Clarke.

“It was a great goal by myself,” he joked. “I don’t know how anyone is trying to take that away from me.

“You wait a full season for a goal, then people try and take it away from you! It’s scandalous. It’s really good to score. It’s been a long time coming. I won’t have anyone trying to take it away.”

Pool’s first defeat of the season followed two Ronan Curtis strikes for Pompey.

Cullen came off the bench to reduce the arrears eight minutes from time,then looked to have bagged an equaliser in injury-time only to be ruled offside.

Cullen insists there are plenty of positives to take from Pool’s spirited fightback. He added: “It’s obviously not a good result. To get beaten is not what anyone wants.

“We had a tough week as a team, so to show that grit and determination to carry on until the very end shows you a lot about the group.

“The two goals were not good goals to give away. They were not up to our usual standards but these things happen.

“After that it’s all about how you react and I think we did give a good reaction to try to get back in the game.

“There are positives to take and we have to build on them on Tuesday night.”

Cullen was referring to tonight’s League Cup first round clash at home to early League One pace-setters Barnsley (7.45pm).

Asked if he’s ready to start the tie, Cullen replied: “I’ve been working hard in pre-season and I’ve had no issues really. I’ve had a few things with my knee but my hamstring feels good, which for me is an absolute bonus.

“I haven’t started a game for over a year. I’ve worked hard to get my fitness up and to get ready, which I will be when called upon.”

Tonight’s tie will go straight to penalties if the score is level after 90 minutes.