Blackpool squad still improving for Bowyer

Blackpool celebrate Vassell's second goal
Blackpool celebrate Vassell's second goal

Gary Bowyer praised his Blackpool players’ willingness to learn after watching them make it four home wins from four this season.

oals from Kyle Vassell (2) and Callum Cooke gave the Seasiders a 3-1 victory against Oxford United at Bloomfield Road.

As well as making it 12 points from 12 at home in League One this season, the win extended Pool’s unbeaten league run to seven matches and lifted them to fourth in the table, level on points with second-placed Peterborough.

They could have been out of sight by half-time after Vassell and Cooke both scored inside 16 minutes.

Numerous chances to extend that lead came and went before half-time, after which the visitors improved on their dreadful first-half showing.

That improvement culminated in James Henry’s 89th-minute goal, only for Vassell’s stoppage-time free-kick to wrap up victory.

It was a performance which triggered memories of the victory against Oldham Athletic three weeks earlier – a dominant first half followed by a troublesome second period.

“A very pleasing performance, especially in the first half with two very good goals,” Bowyer said when asked to sum up the match.

“We created numerous opportunities and I couldn’t believe it was only 2-0.

“This group keeps getting better and wants to improve. You could see that in the performance, especially in the first half.

“This group also likes to make you sweat in the second half.

“It was very similar to the Oldham game here but what we did this time was we learned from that.

“We knew Oxford would come at us because they have quality throughout the team. I think we’ve learned our lessons from that game.

“We knew they would come at us, so it was important we were disciplined off the ball and it was important we were organised.

“We limited them in the first half to only one chance and second half it was important we were organised.”

Henry’s late goal undoubtedly gave the visitors renewed hope of snatching what had looked

the unlikeliest of points after the first half.

The biggest mystery was how Blackpool only led by two goals given their absolute dominance.

Vassell was also denied by United keeper Simon Eastwood, had another effort blocked and was inches away from converting Jimmy Ryan’s corner.

Sean Longstaff spurned a headed chance, Clark Robertson headed over and Curtis Tilt wasted two opportunities.

Though Oxford made it a more even second half, there was also time for Ryan to shoot wide, Eastwood to tip over Cooke’s volley and for Vassell to head over.

“We had a couple of great opportunities on the counter to have finished it off,” Bowyer admitted.

“If I’m being critical of them, then it’s the number of chances we created in the first half that weren’t capitalised upon.

“We have to be more ruthless in front of goal to kill teams off. If you don’t do that against a team of Oxford’s quality, then you know you’re going to go to the death.”