Neil Critchley hails his players as Blackpool recover from a goal down to claim 'terrific' win against Middlesbrough
Neil Critchley hailed his players’ character and resilience after fighting back from a goal down to beat Middlesbrough.
A Marvin Ekpiteta strike and a late own goal handed the Seasiders their first away win of the season at the Riverside Stadium.
It came after Marcus Tavernier had put Neil Warnock’s side in front early on with a contentious close-range strike.
Reflecting on the victory, Critchley said: “It was a terrific win.
“When you go 1-0 down so early in the game, with their crowd behind them, you fear the worst.
“I shouldn’t fear the worst though because I should know how many times our players have bounced back from being a goal down or two, so it doesn’t surprise me the character and resilience we show. It’s unquestionable.
“I thought we played our way back into the game. We actually had a big chance through Tyreece (John-Jules) to make it 1-1 not long after they scored their first.
“We tried to take the game to them, because it’s difficult with the way they play. They man mark you and they don’t leave a lot of space in behind, so you have to work really hard for your chances.
“We got a bit of fortune, particularly with the second goal. But everyone to a man, the shift they put in was absolutely incredible.”
After starting the second-half brightly, Pool drew themselves level through Marvin Ekpiteta’s first goal of the campaign.
The centre-back did superbly to control Richard Keogh’s lofted ball, before turning and firing past former Pool loanee Joe Lumley in the Boro goal.
“We felt at half-time there was a goal in the game for us, we definitely felt that,” Critchley said.
“We also said if we could get to 60 to 65 minutes, then we’ll create chances towards the end of the game.
“Firstly, because of physical reasons because they played 24 hours later than us in midweek and secondly, with the possession we had if you keep moving them around the pitch then you can tire them out.
“I didn’t expect the goal to come the way it did and I’m not sure the players did either, but Marvin took it like a centre-forward. It was a fantastic goal.
“We got a bit of fortune for the second goal which we haven’t had in our previous games this season, so we deserved that.”
Pool had no interest in sitting back and settling for a point and continued to take the game to their opponents.
The manner of their winner was a little fortuitous though, as Luke Garbutt’s corner flew into the net off the face of another former Seasider in Grant Hall.
“I’d like to say we worked on that on the training ground, but I can assure you we haven’t,” Critchley said with a wry smile.
“I think it was Kenny (Dougall) who touched it to Keogh and he stepped in, which left me thinking what we were doing!
“But he clipped in a little diagonal into Marvin and he’s held it up, showed some strength, swivelled and scored a fantastic goal. It was like a centre forward backing in.”
The Seasiders, who now find themselves out of the bottom three, were unfortunate to find themselves a goal behind in the first place.
Boro’s Dael Fry was a good three or four yards offside after Lee Peltier flicked on a left-wing cross.
But the linesman’s flag stayed down allowing play to continue, with Fry playing the ball back across the face of goal for Tavernier to tap home.
“He does look offside. They’re obviously saying he didn’t get a touch to it, we think he did. I’m not sure why that wasn’t given,” Critchley said.
“You want the linesmen there to do his job.
“I’m sure Neil will say the same for Middlesbrough, because he said to me near the end that we’ve had everything.
“I’m not sure that was true! I’m sure both teams could have grievance with the referee to be honest.”
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