Blackpool FC writer Matt Scrafton takes a look at the key talking points from the Seasiders' morale-boosting win at Peterborough.
First half display up there with the best of them
The manner of Blackpool's performance in the opening period was a delight to watch – in fact it was probably the best football I’ve seen from Blackpool since I've been reporting on them. The link-up play between the likes of Sean Longstaff, Callum Cooke and Kyle Vassell was simply magnificent. Pool carved Peterborough open time and time again with as few as two or three sharp, incisive passes. It wasn’t just pretty passing for the sake of it though, it was well constructed team moves that saw Gary Bowyer’s side create numerous chances. Vassell, Longstaff and Viv Solomon-Otabor all had opportunities to extend their lead. It was as close to the perfect first half performance as you’re going to get – especially away from home. It was an open game so Pool certainly had to do their bit at the back as well, but they earned their clean sheet with some superb, dogged defending.
Seasiders laid down a gauntlet from the start
Managers often say the first minute of a football match is the most important one – it sets the tone for the rest of the game and you’re able to lay down a marker for how you want to play. Well, if that’s what Blackpool were aiming to do on Saturday, they certainly achieved it. Within 30 seconds of Peterborough’s kick-off the Seasiders had won the ball back, passed their way out from the back and won themselves a corner thanks to a sumptuous team move. And then Will Aimson was inches away from heading Blackpool in front from the subsequent corner. It might not sound like much, but it got the Seasiders into a groove they kept up for the remainder of the first half. The second half wasn't quite as pleasing on the eye but the manner in which Blackpool grounded out the three points with a dogged display will no doubt satisfy Bowyer as much as the lovely football.
Vassell shows Pool what they've been missing
The manner in which Kyle Vassell led from the front just goes to show how badly Blackpool have missed him in recent weeks. The Seasiders aren’t a one-man team, far from it, but any side would suffer without a player of Vassell’s calibre – so it’s no surprise their form dipped off while he was out of action through injury. Pool are at their best when they’re playing high-energy passing football but it seems that’s only possible when they have Vassell spearheading their attack. His strength and reluctance to give up the ball, as well as his hold-up play, has also been a glaring miss in the last month. The striker, who had missed the previous four games with a hamstring injury, struck the decisive blow early in the first half. Having been played in behind the Posh defence thanks to a smart ball from Longstaff, he sent the ball looping over the onrushing ‘keeper via a small deflection.
Tilt just gets better and better
When the home side did get into good positions, the centre back pairing of Curtis Tilt and Will Aimson put their bodies on the line to defend their goal. Tilt in particular caught the eye, as he has done so many times this season. In fact watching him put in that display on Saturday makes you wonder what he’s been doing plying his trade in non-league football up to this point. It’s staggering that, at the age of 26, it’s taken him this long to be picked up by a league club. The Walsall-born defender is more than capable of doing all the nitty gritty side of it, in fact he excels at it. But the most impressive thing for me is watching him look so settled on the ball as he waltzes out of defence. His know-how and gamesmanship also came in handy towards the end as Blackpool ran the clock down much to the frustration of the home supporters. While Tilt rightfully continues to receive all the plaudits, it’s important Aimson gets recognition for another confident display. On another day he could have scored twice as well.
Longstaff back to early-season form
Another Blackpool player to receive praise from his manager was young Newcastle United loanee Sean Longstaff. The midfielder has been out of the team in recent weeks and of his admission has suffered a bit of a dip in form after starting the season so well. But he was back to his best on Saturday with an all-action display. He was the man receiving the ball in space and threading the through-balls through the eye of a needle, one of which led to Vassell’s goal. His clever movement meant Peterborough were unable to pick him up in the first half and it's those pockets of space he finds himself in that he thrives on. Longstaff is still only young and Bowyer wants him to work on the defensive side of his game, but he certainly has a bright future ahead of him.