Match verdict: Doncaster 0 Blackpool 1 - lady luck finally favouring the Seasiders

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All season lady luck appeared to have fallen out with Blackpool and their manager Neil McDonald.

While it’s fair to say you make your own, having that bit of fortune can go a long way. And out of nowhere, Pool suddenly can’t get enough of it.

Blackpool's Mark Cullen scores a vital winner for Blackpool

Blackpool's Mark Cullen scores a vital winner for Blackpool

At Crewe the Seasiders saw a hugely deflected effort drop into the net to earn the Seasiders a huge win against a relegation rival, and yesterday history repeated itself.

And you only had to look at the reaction of Blackpool’s bench to Mark Cullen’s goal to realise just how big a goal that could be.

Everyone was on their feet to punch the air, seven points in three games representing a huge turnaround for a side that looked dead and buried after losing at Oldham.

Speaking of Oldham, their win against Chesterfield means Blackpool still have plenty of work to do.

Blackpool’s late breakthrough came after a scrappy, cagey and nervous game, but was a breakthrough they probably deserved.

Heading to the Keepmoat Stadium yesterday it was fair to say Neil McDonald would have been happy with a point.

Facing a side just below them in the table it was absolutely vital the Seasiders weren’t beaten, with the phrase ‘must not lose’ probably burned into the thoughts of everyone in navy blue.

Had Cullen not found a winner with just four minutes to go, Pool wouldn’t have been happy.

While Darren Ferguson said all the right things in the build-up to the game, his side were dreadfully poor must now be favourites for the drop. For that reason it was clear to see yesterday’s game was infact a must win, and McDonald will be delighted his side obliged.

Although they didn’t exactly go the easy way about it.

The team news at 2pm was one which left most people in the Keepmoat Stadium press box surprised. After hammering his side’s opening 45 minutes against Burythree days earlier, it’s fair to say we all wanted and expected changes.

They didn’t come as he named the same team, with both Bright Osayi-Samuel and Mark Yeates again having to make do with a place on the bench despite a really positive impact from the bench.

The line-up gave everyone a clue of Pool’s game plan, it was very much a case of keeping it tight and hitting their hosts on the break, and that’s exactly what happened.

Had Blackpool and McDonald had a more positive out look and taken the game to their hosts, for me they’d have comfortably seen off a doomed looking Doncaster side. But to be fair to the Blackpool boss he travelled to Yorkshire with a game plan, one which worked to a tee.

Ahead of the game much was made about it’s importance, and with that in mind, Doncaster’s nervous start to the game surprised no-one.

In the very first minute a wayward clearence from keeper Remi Matthews earned Blackpool a corner, while it came to nothing it showed confidence was certainly lacking around their squad.

Blackpool themselves weren’t exactly comfortable, as shown with the way Cullen made a bit of a mess of their first real chance of the game.

A free-kick was contested in the box by Tom Aldred, falling to the path of Cullen who was totally unmarked, only for his miss-hit to spin into the air and the arms of the keeper.

It would have been some finish to score on the volley, but his lack of connection probably showed he snatched at it a little. And the nervy theme continued in the opening stages, with both sides making unforced errors with the size of the game clearly weighing on their minds.

On the quater-hour mark came another chance for Blackpool, although one Clark Robertson probbaly didn’t know much about.

Jim McAlister’s right-wing free-kick was flicked on at the near post into the path of Robertson who headed just wide.

At this point you could see why Doncaster had lost six on the bounce, they looked poor to say the least.

When on runs like that the first goal in games is always so vital, and you got the feeling a Pool one could see the home side collapse. And five minutes later that goal should have arrived - Danny Philliskirk will get few better chances.

Cullen did well to turn a ball into the path of Philliskirk who was clear in on goal, only for the striker to hit it early and straight at Matthews.

He should have scored, but it was nice to see him popping up in the right places, chances have been few and far between for the striker lately.

While Blackpool were the better side at this point, Doncaster were showing signs of playing some decent stuff in an around Pool’s box.

And on 23 minutes Tommy Rowe had their first real sight of goal when he headed a Gary McSheffrey corner just wide.

Ferguson’s side knew nothing but a win would do, and their style certainly reflected that. Pool often found themselves three on three in attack when they won the ball back, although in the early stages of the first half it was the final ball which let them down when it really mattered.

If McDonald and Blackpool’s fans were nervous, those were almost turned into panic on the half hour mark as Doncaster had a big claim for a penalty. A ball into the box bounced akwardly up onto the arm of Luke Higham, only for referee Keith Hill to wave the claims away.

From where I was sat he got it right, there was no intention at all from the youngster.

All of a sudden we had a pretty entertaining game on our hands as things opened up, and Pool worked another good chance moments later.

An early ball found Cullen who shifted the ball onto his left foot at the edge of the area and fired goalwards, only for keeper Matthews to react well to beat the ball away.

This was a game which really could go either way.

As half time approached the game finally settled down a little, although just before the break the home side came close to opening the scoring.

After a scrappy passage of play, winger Andy Williams robbed Higham before bursting towards the edge of Pool’s box and curling just wide of Doyle’s goal. It was probably one the keeper had covered.

As the fourth official held up the board to indicate four minutes of stoppage time, there was a chance at either end. First a half cleared corner bounce right in the middle of Pool’s six yards box sparking a goalmouth scramble.

Good defending from Robertson saw the danger cleared and a lovely ball from Potts released Cullen. His first touch was excellent, his second firing straight into the chest of the advancing keeper.

Int was a great save, although Cullen maybe should have opted for placement rather than power.

Although the hour mark past without any second half moments of note, it was the home side who were on top and very much on the assendancy. McDonald’s men looked more than happy to sit in, soak it up and hope for something on the break.

And on 63 minutes they almost got exactly that. A long ball into the area was flapped at by the Doncaster keeper and as David Norris’ header goalwards was cleared off the line by Craig Alcock.

Even that clearance was done in a nervy way, with the full-back turning the ball onto his own post. Yet another decent opporunity went missing for Blackpool, whose tactics of soaking up pressure continued and on 73 minutes their sitting back almost cost them.

Doncaster midfielder Rowe found space to control and fire a sensational effort off the underside of the bar, luckily for Pool it bounced onto the goaline and away from danger.

Just has the game looked to be drifting towards a draw, Blackpool found themselves what could be a massive goal in their survival race.

Substitute Liam Smith found space and curled a lovely pass into the path of Cullen who saw his effort deflected into the air and under the bar.

The goal was reward for the striker, who’d caused problems all afternoon. It sparked huge scenes of celebration, although just a point separates Pool from the bottom four.

Blackpool probably need nine more points but now face back-to-back home games against Southend and Colchester.

Two more wins and they’ll almost be there.