Memory Match: Blackpool put distraction of Owen Oyston's arrest to one side to claim vital win against Oxford

Owen and Vicky Oyston
Owen and Vicky Oyston
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Matt Scrafton trawls through the archives to take a look back at Blackpool's crucial 2-1 victory against Oxford United on February 11, 1995.

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Out of adversity came Blackpool’s best performance of the season so far – and set the fans talking of play-offs and a possible return to Wembley.

The circumstances could hardly have been more difficult with uncertainty over the club’s future after chairman Owen Oyston’s arrest 48 hours earlier and a quagmire of a pitch to test the players even further.

But Pool showed a commendably professional attitude to achieve their longest unbeaten run of the season and move within six points of Second Division leaders Brentford.

A haul of 16 points from the last 21 says it all about the improved form the Seasiders have shown since the turn of the year and the supporters were quick to acknowledge a battling performance against one of the division’s most dangerous sides.

With Oyston making a dramatic appearance on the pitch before kick-off following charges levelled against him in court the previous day, it would have been easy for the football to be overshadowed by other events.

The heavy rain which left the match in doubt up until an hour before kick-off also provided a major test of the players’ resolve – and yet no-one need have worried.

The extra confidence gained from two impressive away results over the previous week gave the players just the lift they needed to make sure Oxford were left looking a poor second best.

Pool dominated from the outset despite the ever-worsening conditions making genuine scoring chances difficult to create.

But a solid defensive show made sure the Seasiders’ goal was rarely threatened and, at the other end, patience was the key.

Pool finally got their reward just after the hour and it was fitting that Micky Mellon should have set up the opening with a neatly taken quick free-kick.

Mellon had been a key performer in the club’s improved run of form of late and was again instrumental in them gaining their fifth win from seven games.

Andy Morrison’s move into midfield has helped improve Mellon’s form even further but this was a match in which the workrate of the whole team was exemplary.

Tony Ellis didn’t get on the scoresheet but he played a key role in the two goals, from Andy Gouck and James Quinn, while Darren Bradshaw was in superb form at the heart of defence.

If Pool can continue to produce performances of such quality, there is no doubt they are well capable of ending up in the top five play-off zone.

Oxford, among the promotion favourites at the start of the season, were bound to provide one of the toughest tests yet of the Seasiders’ promotion potential.

Yet the visitors were never allowed a look-in by a Pool side who really made a splash in strength-sapping conditions and passed the examination with top marks.

Manager Sam Allardyce felt the win, which lifted Pool above Oxford into sixth, was their most significant of the season.

“It was a great performance, especially considering the conditions,” he said.

“We never even spoke about it (Oyston’s court appearance) and I think the result and performance says everything about what we were concentrating on.

“We are here to play football and it was up to me and my assistant Bob Saxton to just make sure we all got on with the job.”

Andy Morrison, who captained Pool to their 10th home win of the season, said the chairman’s court appearance on sex charges hadn’t done anything to affect the good spirit among the players.

“We are on a good run and have been buzzing all week,” he said.

“We haven’t thought about anything except what is happening on the field and I think that showed through in the performance.”

Match winner James Quinn added: “I think all the attention that was being concentrated on Mr Oyston elsewhere actually took some of the pressure off us.

“We never even thought about it and all credit to the boss and Bob for making sure we were fully concentrated on the match and nothing else.”

The only downside to come out of Blackpool’s win was the yellow card picked up by the club’s top scorer Tony Ellis, his sixth booking of the season.

Ellis had been a key performer for the Seasiders in their unbeaten run but he will now sit out the next two matches – away to Cambridge United and at home to Chester the following game.

Attendance: 5,206