'The best performance of the season': Matt Scrafton's verdict on Blackpool's magnificent victory against Peterborough

Momentum is an important ingredient in football.

By Matt Scrafton
Sunday, 22nd November 2020, 11:58 am
Updated Sunday, 22nd November 2020, 12:02 pm

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On the back of four straight victories that had revitalised Blackpool’s season, I was concerned that Blackpool’s 10-day mini-break would come at just the wrong time for Neil Critchley and his men.

When you’re in the groove and winning games on a regular basis, you just want the fixtures to keep coming thick and fast. Having a weekend without a game can often stutter your progress.

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Well, how wrong I was. The Seasiders made full use of their time on the training ground and when they took to the pitch at London Road, they looked fresh, rejuvenated and on top of their game. Blackpool subsequently produced their best performance of the season.

In picking up a fifth straight victory in all competitions for the first time since November 2018, the Seasiders made Peterborough – who started the day atop of League One – decidedly ordinary.

Critchley’s side were utterly dominant from the first whistle to the last and, had Posh found themselves on the end of a defeat by a three or four-goal margin, Darren Ferguson really could have had no complaints.

Instead, Blackpool left it late to snatch a thoroughly deserved three points in the most dramatic of circumstances courtesy of Gary Madine’s 90th-minute strike.

Jerry Yates celebrates his fourth goal in his last five matches

Just six minutes prior to Madine’s decisive, match-winning effort, Blackpool found themselves back in familiar territory.

Having squandered numerous opportunities to extend their lead, having already missed a couple of glorious chances before Jerry Yates’ early opener, Pool were made to pay for their wastefulness in front of goal when Posh drew themselves level with their first shot on goal of the match.

Defender Frankie Kent was the man to head home from a corner, although Madine – somewhat unusually – claimed in his post-match interview that the ball had actually flicked off his head before arrowing into the bottom corner. It’s not often you get a player volunteering for an own goal!

It would have been a travesty had Peterborough walked away with a point given Blackpool’s supreme superiority throughout.

Right from the off, they were on the front foot and stopped Posh from playing. The high pressing proved successful against a team that like to build from the back. Peterborough’s front three, probably the most talented trio in the division, were starved of any supply. Their midfield, identified by Critchey as their main threat, weren’t given a chance to control the ball, never mind get any passes off, such was the effectiveness of Pool’s closing-down.

But those feelings of misery and despondency after Peterborough’s late leveller soon transformed into elation thanks to Madine’s last-gasp winner.

The 30-year-old, continuing his impressive recent run of form with his third goal in his last two outings, showed impressive composure to control CJ Hamilton’s pullback eight yards out from goal before calmly slotting home.

It was a moment that was tailor-made for wild celebrations with Blackpool’s away fans, but we must wait a little longer for that – but hopefully not too long. Such contrasting emotions, after all, are the absolute cornerstone of our game.

Madine’s goal was exactly what the striker deserved for another strong showing, as he continued his blossoming partnership with Yates in attack. Both produced tireless shifts to lead by example from the front.

They were by no means the only impressive performers though, because Blackpool were magnificent from back to front. There were no weak links whatsoever.

Kenny Dougall in particular was magnificent, providing a virtuoso display in the middle of the park. He was first to everything, won the ball back time and time again but still had the quality and presence of mind to pick out a wide array of dangerous passes – most of them forward, too.

At the back, Daniel Gretarsson enjoyed his best display in a Blackpool shirt to date, demonstrating his positional sense to clear everything that came his way.

CJ Hamilton was also a constant threat down the right and, having come close with a ferocious curling effort in the first-half, he provided the vital assist for Pool’s winner, turning on the after-burners before pulling the ball back for Madine to slot home.

The game really ought to have been put to bed by half-time given Blackpool’s supremacy. Yates missed a sitter with just four minutes on the clock after Pool had carved through Peterborough’s porous defence.

The striker, nevertheless, atoned for that miss just eight minutes later when he cut inside before lashing home in confident style after Posh had failed to clear their lines from a Sullay Kaikai corner.

Speaking of Kaikai, he was another that was guilty of some poor finishing – the winger wasting two glorious opportunities at the start of the second-half.

Kaikai could only curl wide with the first of his two chances after Blackpool had forced a mistake out of the hosts, who were insistent on playing out from the back. Minutes later, Kaikai would then shoot tamely at keeper Christy Pym from just eight yards out with the goal at his mercy.

These weren’t half-chances Pool were squandering either, they had a good six or seven gilt-edged opportunities. On another day, Blackpool would have handed out a thrashing that really would have sent out a message to the rest of the division.

In the six minutes of stoppage time, that actually ended up being nine – something we’re probably going to have to get used to with the new five-sub rule – Posh still found time to go close to a second equaliser.

Jonson Clarke-Harris, who had destroyed the Seasiders during his stint at Bristol Rovers, but was inconspicuously quiet on this occasion, flicked a header towards goal that glanced off the top of the crossbar in the third minute of time added on.

Had that gone in, it really would have been unjustified. Thankfully it didn’t, and the Seasiders ended up seeing out the remainder of stoppage time, thanks in large to Madine’s skillful time-wasting by the corner flag, to pick up another important victory.

Blackpool march on.