Blackpool FC writer Matt Scrafton takes a look at the key talking points from the Seasiders' dominant win at the Priestfield Stadium.
A game in which Blackpool controlled from start to finish
The Seasiders stamped their authority on today's game from the very start and ought to have broken the deadlock long before they eventually did on the 28-minute mark. Prior to Kyle Vassell opening the scoring, the striker had smashed a header against the crossbar while Nathan Delfouneso also glanced another header agonisingly wide of the far post. But, despite the misses, it seemed only a matter of time until Blackpool would find that goal and it did eventually come. Vassell was the man to get it, following in to capitalise after Jimmy Ryan's low free-kick had been spilled by the young Gillingham goalkeeper, who was making his league debut. A second soon followed as Vassell turned provider, drilling a low cross for Delfouneso to steer home. Blackpool weren't made to pay for Jay Spearing's penalty miss at the start of the second half, as Kelvin Mellor came off the bench to make his first appearance since February to wrap up the win with a close-range tap-in with just seven minutes to go. The margin of victory was the least Blackpool deserved for what was ultimately a one-sided display on away turf. Gillingham really could have had no complaints had it been six or seven.
The win confirms Pool's League One status
We all knew after Blackpool's three wins in the space of a week that Pool weren't going to go down, but today their safety has been officially confirmed. Given everything Bowyer and his players have faced, both last season and this, one should never underestimate what has been achieved in these last couple of years. The Pool boss was today asked what was the bigger achievement, promotion from League Two or survival in League One? He said the latter, and I wholeheartedly agree. Of course, given the ruthless nature of this sport, as soon as something is achieved the immediate question posed is 'what next?'. For Blackpool, that's an impossible question to answer for a whole magnitude of reasons. When asked that very question today, Gary Bowyer came out fighting. He delivered an impassioned speech of what he wants the future to hold for this fine football club. His exact words were: "the club has got to build. It’s a big stage now for the football club." For a start, the club needs normality. It needs foundations to be put in place. It needs its best players signed up to contracts. It needs investment. None of that will come under Owen Oyston. See the light Owen, sell up and let this football club prosper. Everything Bowyer and his players have achieved this season is in spite of you, not because of you.
Seasiders' penalty woe continues...
The game could have been dead and buried on 48 minutes, when, with Blackpool already leading 2-0, they were awarded just their second penalty of the season. But Jay Spearing missed the chance to add a third when he curled his penalty against the foot of the post after Curtis Tilt had been hauled down in the box by Tom Eaves. It was a blatant penalty and the only surprise was how long it took the referee to blow his whistle and point to the spot. But the miss means Spearing, who has now played 33 games for the Seasiders, is still yet to score while playing in tangerine. For the Seasiders, meanwhile, it means they haven't scored a penalty all season. In fact, they haven't converted from 12 yards since Mark Cullen completed his hat-trick from the penalty spot in the first leg of their League Two play-off semi-final against Luton Town last year. Since then, Jimmy Ryan has seen a penalty saved against Southend United in September of last year before today's miss. Last season was one where Blackpool missed penalty after penalty, almost reaching double figures. Thankfully it didn't prove costly back then and neither did it prove costly today, either.
Pool ending the season in style
Until this weekend, Blackpool hadn’t won four league games on the trot since April 2010. You don’t need me to tell you what history the Seasiders made during that campaign. We have to go all the way back to 2007 for the last time Blackpool last recorded five straight wins - which of course came during Simon Grayson’s ‘perfect 10’. In both 2007 and 2010, the winning runs culminated in promotion. That won’t be possible for Blackpool this season, who are now eight points behind sixth-placed Scunthorpe United with two games of the campaign remaining. Of course, other than a certain delusional owner of the football club, no one could have seriously expected the Seasiders to have competed for a play-off berth. Giving everything that has happened off-the-pitch this season, the aim this year was always to avoid relegation and Blackpool are doing that and in some style too. But the fact the top six is even being mentioned just goes to show what a sterling job both Gary Bowyer and his players have done.
Pool boosted by a couple of welcome returns
It was great to see both Kelvin Mellor and Jim McAlister named among Blackpool's substitutes today. Given the comfortable nature of Blackpool's win, both were given the opportunity to come off the bench in the second half to get some much-needed minutes in those legs. Mellor's appearance was his first since February when he suffered an ankle injury. He made the ideal return, capping off his reappearance with a late goal - his seventh off the season, which is the second season running he has managed to reach that tally. Not bad for a right back! McAlister, meanwhile, saw his first league action in 14 months. The midfielder has endured a torrid time of it this last year, having broken his leg against Colchester United back in February 2017. He thought he had returned for good back in January when he made an appearance in the Checkatrade Trophy, but he suffered another setback in training that set him back another three months. Fingers crossed he is now over the worst of it. It's just a shame that, for both Mellor and McAlister, both of their returns have come so close to the end of the campaign.