'Seasiders produce their best display of the season': Matt Scrafton's verdict on Blackpool's pulsating win against Peterborough
Blackpool decided to fight fire with fire against a side that, prior to Saturday’s encounter, had scored 36 times in just 15 games.
Instead of sitting back and opting to soak up pressure, something Simon Grayson has been accused of doing by supporters on more than one occasion this season, the Seasiders instead decided to go on the attack.
They could quite easily have ended up with their fingers being burned but what followed was nothing short of sensational, Grayson’s men unquestionably producing their best display of the season.
Blackpool have played well in spells and spurts throughout much of this campaign, yet until now they had struggled to put it all together for the entirety of a match. That’s not the case anymore.
The men in tangerine played on the front foot and looked to attack whenever possible. The ball was kept on the deck and, when a forward option was available, more often than not Pool’s passes met its intended target.
The Seasiders were direct, they were incisive and, most importantly of all, they entertained.
The fans, who have been screaming out for this type of display all season, responded in kind and gave their team raucous backing from start to finish.
Blackpool, winning for the first time in five, were in scintillating form. But this must now be used as a marker to set the standard week in, week out.
Coming into the game, Pool were without a win in their last four in a run of games that coincided with just two goals being scored.
The Seasiders managed to double that goals tally in just 47 minutes on Saturday, which was the gap between their first and fourth goals against Peterborough.
Onlookers would have been fearing another frustrating day at the office for Blackpool when, after just 13 minutes, they found themselves going a goal down.
Despite making a strong start to the game, their opponents broke the deadlock with their first opportunity of the game – striker Mo Eisa curling a delightful shot up and over Jak Alnwick and into the far corner of the net.
Yet the goal was an avoidable one from Pool’s point of view, Matty Virtue being punished for his failure to shepherd the ball out of play before Eisa had chance to shoot.
In recent weeks, Pool have often looked lost for ideas when chasing a game. They’re not the sort of side that enjoy the challenge of breaking down a side that sits back and refuses to attack.
It’s a good job then that they were facing a Peterborough team that know nothing else other than attack, attack, attack.
Darren Ferguson’s men must be the most open team in League One. While supremely talented at the top end of the pitch, they’re decidedly abject at the back and play with an openness that is begging to cause themselves problems.
Blackpool were only too pleased to take full advantage of the rare space afforded to them on home turf and their leveller came halfway through the opening period.
Posh’s feeble defence dithered over Alnwick’s long punt up the pitch, which Armand Gnanduillet latched onto by barging his way past the helpless Niall Mason.
The only thing Mason could do was to stretch out a leg in an attempt to clear the ball – something he did successfully – only to see it bobble past his goalkeeper and into the back of his own net.
There was only one side in it at this point and Pool edged their noses in front four minutes before the interval, Gnanduillet slotting home calmly after the brilliant Calum Macdonald saw his fierce cross palmed into the striker’s path.
Blackpool would have richly deserved their lead at the break had they managed to hold onto it, but Ivan Toney levelled things up again when he got in between Ben Heneghan and James Husband to stoop to a header underneath Alnwick.
The defenders were incredulous the striker, who leads the league’s scoring charts alongside partner Eisa with 12 goals, was not flagged offside.
It was a disappointing setback for the Seasiders, who had done more than enough to hold a lead at the half-time break.
But they responded superbly, edging ahead again just three minutes into the second period when Gnanduillet converted a penalty to make it 3-2.
The Frenchman dusted himself off after being fouled by Mark Beevers to send the goalkeeper the wrong way for his ninth of the season.
Beevers was involved in yet more penalty controversy with 20 minutes remaining when the cumbersome defender was adjudged to have had his shirt pulled in the box by Ryan Edwards.
Much like the Gnanduillet one, it appeared soft. But Marcus Maddison dispatched from 12 yards to level things up once more.
In tune with the rest of the game, the entertainment didn’t stop there – with plenty of time remaining for further twists and turns.
Fortunately for Pool it came in their favour, a second own goal, this time from Dan Butler, proving to be the decisive moment.
The goal had much to do with Liam Feeney’s brilliance, the wing-back rinsing his marker for pace and guile down the right after being set up by Alnwick’s quick-thinking to launch a throw.
Feeney played a dangerous ball across the face of Peterborough’s six-yard box and there was Butler to inadvertently divert the ball into the roof of his own net, much to the delight of the Pool fans housed in the North Stand.
It sealed Pool’s first four-goal haul of the season, an impressive stat given they only managed three shots on target for the entirety of the game.
But the stats don’t always tell the whole story, because this is a win Grayson’s men fully merited.