Stevenage 0-2 Blackpool: Five things we learned
Blackpool FC writer Matt Scrafton takes a look at the key talking points from the Seasiders' hard-fought 2-0 win at Stevenage.
This is more than just a patch of good form
Blackpool's win, their eighth in the league this season, took Gary Bowyer's men back into the play-off spots. They have now won two games on the spin on the road in the league, which was previously considered one of their weak points. They kept another clean sheet, which again, was thought to be one of their weaknesses. And now they have only lost one game from their last 11 fixtures. As we all know, stats and figures can be spun to suit your argument, but however you look at Pool's recent form it makes for pleasant reading. But this isn't just a bright patch, this goes back three months or so. On the pitch at least, Pool are turning the corner under the management of Bowyer and they are finally beginning to look upwards.
Osayi-Samuel's first goal was worth the wait
The 18-year-old's first professional goal was probably long overdue, but when it finally came, boy was it good. The winger showed immense composure far beyond his years to take a touch on the edge of a crowded penalty area after Andy Taylor's probing cross had been cleared to him, and he opened his body to side foot a delightful effort into the bottom corner and beyond the desperate dive of Stevenage 'keeper Chris Day. Gary Bowyer has long been calling for Osayi-Samuel to improve his end product, whether that be scoring or assisting, and the sought-after teenager needs to grab this chance and prove the attention he has garnered over the last year or so is worth it.
Cullen took his chance
Despite missing a couple of gilt-edged chances in the Checkatrade Trophy tie against Doncaster during the week, Mark Cullen was superb. He held the ball up, chased relentlessly and worked expertly with strike partner Armand Gnanduillet. He showed everything his manager would have wanted him to show and he could perhaps consider himself unlucky not to have started against Stevenage. But, after coming off the bench on Saturday, the 24-year-old continued in the same vein and deserved the goal that, although well taken, was gifted to him by an embarrassing defensive mistake from Stevenage defender Dean Wells. It was his first goal since August, and the perfect time to get his third would be against his former club Luton on Saturday.
Pool are learning to win ugly
As impressive as Blackpool's home form is, where Bowyer's men are considerably free-scoring, grinding out ugly wins on the road are often more satisfying. Blackpool really weren't up to much on Saturday, in fact Stevenage probably edged it, but they stayed in the game courtesy of some vital stops from Sam Slocombe, rode their luck a little and got their reward with Osayi-Samuel's late magic. When things are going well, it's all well and good scoring three or four goals against the likes of Doncaster and Portsmouth. It's great to watch and shows just how potent Blackpool are in attack. But the Seasiders can't be at their best in every game, especially on the road, where sometimes they're going to have to do the ugly stuff and roll their sleeves up to secure more regular wins.
Bond between team and fans is growing
Gary Bowyer marched over the pitch towards the 424 Blackpool fans before the game to show his appreciation for their support. After his side had earned a hard-fought 2-0 win, the players came straight over and saluted the away end and lapped up their support. That might not sound like much, but to fans it means the world. There's clearly not a great deal to be proud of surrounding the club off the field, with another court case coming up this week, but on the field Gary Bowyer is putting things right and the players are playing for the shirt. Again, that might not mean a great deal to some people but given what Blackpool fans have had to put up with in recent years, it's those little details that can put a smile on a fan's face come 5pm on a Saturday.