MATCH REPORT: Blackpool 3-0 Northampton Town

Armand Gnanduillet celebrates giving Blackpool the lead
Armand Gnanduillet celebrates giving Blackpool the lead
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Blackpool’s virtually confirmed their League One status for next season after recording a one-sided victory against relegation-threatened Northampton Town.

Goals from Armand Gnanduillet, Sean Longstaff and Jimmy Ryan ensured the win that takes the Seasiders up into the top half of the table, 11 points clear of the dropzone.

It capped off the perfect week for Gary Bowyer’s men, who have picked up their first back-to-back wins since September in style with eight goals against Bradford City and Northampton respectively, conceding none in return.

The Seasiders, who now have a positive goal difference, are in fact closer to the play-offs than they are the bottom four.

Gary Bowyer was forced into making one change to his side, bringing Armand Gnanduillet into the starting 11 in place of Kyle Vassell.

The striker was forced to hobble off the pitch during Blackpool’s superb 5-0 thrashing of Bradford City on Saturday.

But the Seasiders were unsurprisingly unchanged elsewhere, although Danny Philliskirk did return to the substitutes bench.

As you might expect after such a dominant victory, Pool started the game brimming with confidence looking to take the game to the Cobblers.

Armand Gnanduillet looked to latch onto a long throw into the Northampton box inside the first 60 seconds but his header was straight at ‘keeper Richard O’Donnell.

O’Donnell was again called into action on six minutes to make a superb save to deny Viv Solomon-Otabor, who had looked to find the bottom corner with a low, curling effort.

Jimmy Ryan was the next player to try his luck, as the midfielder tried to catch O’Donnell out with a dipping volley from range but the shot stopper did well to beat it away to safety.

The Seasiders continued their early domination as they flooded forwards in numbers. Solomon-Otabor looked to find a teammate with a ball into the six-yard box from the byline but Northampton managed to scramble clear.

The Cobblers slowly grew into the game and had their first shot on goal on the 20-minute mark, when Sam Foley shot straight at Joe Lumley .

A couple of good goalscoring chances came the visitors’ way, as Kevin van Veen looked to pick out the bottom corner of the Blackpool goal with a downward header only to see his effort superbly tipped around the post by Lumley.

Regan Poole then came close from the subsequent corner but he sent his half volley just wide.

Sean Longstaff was picking up plenty of loose balls in the pockets of space and that’s how a shooting opportunity came his way on the half-hour mark, as he picked up on Armand Gnanduillet’s knockdown before volleying wide of goal on his weak foot.

The visitors were gifted a priceless opportunity to break the deadlock on the break after Curtis Tilt had failed to clear his lines near the halfway line.

That allowed Chris Long to race through on goal but again Lumley produced another fine stop to keep the scores level.

A piece of comedy followed shortly afterwards as the ball fell nicely to Leon Barnett on the edge of the Blackpool box, but the centre back produced an airshot, allowing the Seasiders to clear.

The Seasiders forced a couple of corners in quick succession just before the half-time interval, but frustratingly both were cleared away at the front post as has been the case many a time this season.

But thankfully, on the second occasion, the clearance fell to Solomon-Otabor who slipped in Jimmy Ryan to cut the ball back to Gnanduillet - who tapped into an empty net from close range to hand the Seasiders the lead.

It was the perfect way to sign off what had been a fairly even first half, with both sides looking lively in attack.

Pool were straight onto the front foot at the start of the second half and were inches, perhaps even centimetres away from doubling their lead.

Gnanduillet flicked a header onto the bar from Solomon-Otabor’s floated cross before Nathan Delfouneso saw his rebound cleared off the line. The Blackpool players appealed it went over but it was to no avail.

The Seasiders certainly weren’t content to sit on their one-goal lead and they came close to finding a second through Clark Robertson, who rose highest from Ryan’s corner to head just wide of the far post.

Gnanduillet missed a glaring chance to find that all-important second as he blazed over the bar after O’Donnell had palmed Solomon-Otabor’s drilled effort into his path.

It appeared only a matter of time until Blackpool found that second as Colin Daniel chipped a teasing ball over the back pedalling keeper and towards the back post, but no one was there to take advantage.

But not to worry, Pool found that elusive second with their next attack and boy, what a goal it was.

Longstaff received the ball in space around 30 yards out from goal where he took a touch before unleashing an unstoppable effort into the top corner of the Northampton net.

The on-loan Newcastle United midfielder, who now has nine goals for the season, was given a far simpler chance a minute later when Ryan crossed to him inside the six-yard box but he could only steer his effort against the post.

We had to wait until the 70th effort for Northampton’s first effort of the second half, but Lumley was untroubled as Sam Hoskins shot straight at him.

But the three points were all wrapped up when Ryan found the back of the net with a 25-yard free kick that took a wicked deflection, leaving O’Donnell wrongfooted.

Blackpool: Lumley, Turton, Tilt, Robertson, Daniel, Spearing, Ryan, Longstaff (Cooke), Delfouneso, Solomon-Otabor (Agyei), Gnanduillet (Cullen)

Subs not used: Mafoumbi, Aimson, Menga, Philliskirk

Northampton: O'Donnell, Buchanan, Barnett, Foley (Bridge), Van Veen, O'Toole, Facey (McWilliams, Poole, Grimes, Long (Powell), Hoskins

Subs not used: Cornell, Turnbull, Bunney, Roberts

Referee: Christopher Sarginson

Attendance: 2,964 (349 Northampton)