Memory Match: Blackpool 3, Bristol Rovers 0, October 31, 1995
Blackpool's fans got just the Halloween night treat they wanted '“ and manager Sam Allardyce's trick was to drop his leading goalscorer.
The announcement that Andy Preece had lost his place in the starting line-up as Allardyce looked to end a run of three games without a win was greeted with gasps all around the ground.
But the boss’ decisions to switch around his personnel paid handsome dividends practically immediately as Pool killed off Bristol Rovers in a dramatic start.
Within 18 minutes they were 3-0 up and the scorer of the goal which started the spree was Andy Gouck, called back into the team at the expense of eight-goal Preece.
The main points of a switch which saw Preece join Andy Watson and Scott Darton on the bench were to get more out of Marvin Bryan as a wide man and to allow James Quinn to provide more variety in attack.
Both tactics paid off ideally as Pool laid the Rovers challenge effectively to rest before the match was 20 minutes old.
Such was their level of domination throughout that another goal or two in addition to the three they scored might have told a more accurate tale of the difference between the sides.
But despite having to be content with a three-goal margin which was the least they deserved.
Pool can take great satisfaction from a victory which was their first against Rovers at Bloomfield Road for eight years.
They can take particular delight too in keeping a clean sheet as they rattled up their most convincing home win since they beat Plymouth Argyle 5-2 way back in January.
An injury to Andy Morrison meant they had to play half of the match with a makeshift back four which involved assistant manager Phil Brown partnering Jason Lydiate at its heart.
Brown brought all his vast experience to bear in that crucial role and all credit to him for a job well done. Morrison is a hard act for anyone to follow but Pool were great value for the lockout.
The Seasiders could hardly have got off to a better start. As they played some tremendously flowing football from the outset.
Gouck gave them the lead with a piledriver within seven minutes. Rick Holden got away down the left and crossed low to the edge of the 18-yard box where Gouck was on hand to hammer a first-time left-foot shot high into the net.
By the time goalkeeper Andy Collett could react, the ball had already gone past him and Pool were ahead in a match for the first time in a month.
But there was no letting up after that, with Ellis setting up Quinn to score the second only four minutes later.
A long pass by Brown set Ellis off on a run towards goal, he ignored Mark Bonner to his right, decided not to have a shot himself and passed to his left to Quinn, who shot low into the bottom right hand corner of the net.
And seven minutes after that, Pool were three up as Ellis reacted like lightning to shoot home from six yards out after Gouck had had a shot blocked following a Holden cross.
Bryan, revelling in the extra space provided for him by Quinn’s switch to a central striking role, went close with a diagonal shot from just inside the box on 32 minutes.
But between the third goal and that Bryan chance, Rovers had probably their best opportunity of the match, a dipping long-range free kick by Justin Skinner which was well tipped over by Steve Banks.
Ellis went close for Pool twice shortly before the break and within a minute of the restart, the Seasiders signalled their second half intentions as Holden forced a great save from Collett with a point blank shot from a Bryan cross.
On 53 minutes, a shot from Ellis clipped the top of the bar after a neat pass from Quinn had set him off on a clear run into the box.
But despite all that rich promise of many more goals to come, Pool had to be content with their haul of three from those opening first half minutes.
One of the best Pool chances of the closing half-hour fell to Quinn, who had a chip fended away by Collett while Preece, on a sub for the final 16 minutes, shot wide from 25 yards after being set clear by a quick clearance from Banks.
The more picky among the Seasiders’ fans might suggest Rovers should have been made to suffer even more than a three-goal margin for their clear inferiority on the night.
But after the frustration of Saturday’s disappointing show against Oxford, it was a Halloween for the Pool faithful to savour – and gives renewed hope of an upset when Allardyce’s men visit leaders Swindon Town on Saturday.
Blackpool: Banks, Bryan, Morrison (Darton), Lydiate, Brown, Bonner (Preece), Mellon, Gouck, Holden, Quinn, Ellis. Sub not used: Watson