'We've put all facets of our game together': Neil Critchley delights in Blackpool's crucial three points against play-off rivals Oxford United
Neil Critchley felt Blackpool’s superb win against play-off rivals Oxford United was one of their best performances of the season.
Kenny Dougall and Dan Ballard netted the all-important goals as the Seasiders - depleted by injuries to SEVEN key first-team players, extended their unbeaten run to nine games in the process.
Critchley’s side did the damage during a magnificent first 45 minutes, where they had Oxford pinned back in their own half through a combination of constant pressing and clever build-up play.
The result, Blackpool’s first ever win at the Kassam Stadium, sees them move into the top 10 for the first time since September, sitting just three points off sixth-placed Charlton Athletic with FOUR games in hand.
“I thought we were outstanding from the first minute to the last, we were as good as we’ve been this season” Critchley said.
“What we’ve done today is put all facets of our game together, so our defensive organisation has been added to with some really good moments of football and two goals.
“We gave a really good team lots of problems and the only criticism I could have is that we’ve not scored one or two more goals in the second-half and put even more of a gloss on the victory.
“But I can’t praise the players enough, I was really proud of that performance. It’s hard to talk too much about individuals because there were lots of brilliant performances.
“The way we set up, we caused them a lot of problems in the middle of the pitch. We forced them to make a change and change their shape.
“The game opened up and you’d expect them to have some chances in the second-half, but if anything we had the clearer opportunities on the counter-attack.
“If we had scored one of those chances and gone 3-0 up, then the game would have been completely over.
“The longer it stays 2-0, they might get a goal and you’re left hanging on which would have been a total injustice because three points is nothing less than we deserved.”
While Pool played some magnificent football at times, especially in the first-half, both of their goals came from set-pieces.
Dougall scrambled home after a partially-cleared corner had been worked back into the danger area, before Ballard climbed above his marker to power home a header from Sullay Kaikai’s corner.
“We’ve been working on our set-pieces for a number of weeks now, it’s something we’ve highlighted that we need to get more goals in those situations,” Critchley added.
“We started the game really well, we were on top and I actually said that we needed to score now while we’re in the ascendancy.
“We’ve probably been a bit guilty of that in our previous games, but today we’ve done that.
“Jordan Thorniley kept the ball alive from the second phase from a corner but I couldn’t quite see what happened because there were lots of bodies in the way, although Kenny obviously scored.
“Danny Ballard then produces a terrific header, something he had threatened to do just before when he had one cleared off the line.
“It’s brilliant to see a centre-back climb above somebody and slam home a powerful header. At the time it was something we richly deserved.”
Thanks for reading. If you value what we do and are able to support us, a digital subscription is just £1 for your first month. Try us today by clicking here