Match report: Blackpool 3 Oxford United 1

Kyle Vassell (left) celebrates opening the scoring
Kyle Vassell (left) celebrates opening the scoring
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Kyle Vassell’s double and another goal from Callum Cooke extended Blackpool’s undefeated run to seven league matches with victory at Bloomfield Road.

The pair had set Gary Bowyer’s players on the road to three points with two goals in 10 first-half minutes as the Seasiders bossed the opening period.

A much more even second half followed as James Henry’s 89th minute goal set up a nervous finale before Vassell settled matters in added time.

Bowyer made one change to the starting XI which won at Plymouth Argyle in midweek with Sean Longstaff replacing Sessi D’Almeida.

The visitors, for their part, went one better with an unchanged team and subs bench from the side which had drawn their previous outing against Bradford City.

Those supporters who made the journey north, however, could have been forgiven in wanting 11 changes as the Seasiders threatened to put the game to bed before half-time.

A combination of some excellent attacking play and dreadful defending, especially in midfield and on the right-hand side, saw Bowyer’s players threaten to run riot.

Clark Robertson headed over inside 90 seconds before Vassell opened the scoring on six minutes.

He outmuscled Curtis Nelson on the corner of the area before turning inside and hammering a left-footed effort across keeper Simon Eastwood and in off the far post.

Vassell was inches away from heading in a second before keeper Simon Eastwood raced from his line to block Longstaff’s effort with the quarter-hour approaching.

Respite was brief though as Cooke doubled the hosts’ lead with a 25-yard shot which seemed to dip on its way past Eastwood.

Curtis Tilt was off target twice when well placed, Eastwood turned behind a Vassell effort and Longstaff headed wide as Bowyer’s players continued to threaten.

Little was seen of the visitors as a first-half attacking threat, summed up best by the early withdrawal of striker Wes Thomas.

Their only half-chance arrived nine minutes before the break when Rob Hall’s cross was cleared as far as Jack Payne but, with little time to adjust his feet, he could only shoot well over.

If that was the sum total of their first-half endeavours, then the visitors came out a different side for the second 45 minutes.

They were a yard faster and began to get into dangerous positions, albeit without the final ball to back up their efforts.

Hall had a shot blocked and curled another off target, while some neat passing ended with Ryan Allsop holding Ryan Ledson’s effort at the second attempt.

The main talking point of the half came when Allsop dived to grab the ball under pressure from Henry and rolled over, seemingly in pain.

Henry made his displeasure known to the keeper, leading to Colin Daniel rushing in and having his say.

Once the handbags were put away, both players and their respective skippers were given a talking-to by referee Darren Handley and no further action taken.

Gino van Kessel sent a Henry cross wide of goal and Payne wastefully sent a free-kick off target but that was as close as they got.

At the other end, Jimmy Ryan shot over from 18 yards before Eastwood did excellently to tip over Cooke’s fierce volley.

Vassell saw an effort diverted behind by Nelson’s last-ditch challenge, while Allsop did well to hold Hall’s late effort.

Henry set up a tense five minutes of added time when he tucked away the rebound after Allsop had palmed away a shot from distance.

Any nerves were settled, however, when Vassell was brought down on the edge of the area and hammered home the resulting free-kick to wrap up another three points.

Blackpool: Allsop, Turton, Robertson, Tilt, Daniel, Mellor, Longstaff (D’Almeida 90), Ryan, Cooke, Solomon-Otabor (Delfouneso 69), Vassell (Quigley 90). Subs not used: Williams, Taylor, Aimson, Clayton.

Oxford United: Eastwood, Mousinho, Nelson, Williamson, Silva, Hall, Ledson (Mowatt 58), Rothwell, Henry, Payne, Thomas (van Kessel 34). Subs not used: Shearer, Martin, Ruffels, Fernandez, Carroll.

Referee: Darren Handley.

Attendance: 5,274.