Blackpool's Championship memories: Back on form with victory over Brighton and Hove Albion

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With Blackpool back in the Championship, we’re recalling the Seasiders’ previous stint in the second tier from 2011-15.

This week, we’re in March 2012 when, after a draw with Hull City was followed by defeats to Derby County and Peterborough United, they saw off Brighton and Hove Albion 3-1, as reported by STEVE CANAVAN…

That’s more like it.

Garbage (copyright Ian Holloway) at Peterborough last week; quite brilliant here.

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Kevin Phillips celebrates scoring for the SeasidersKevin Phillips celebrates scoring for the Seasiders
Kevin Phillips celebrates scoring for the Seasiders
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I think it was down to Ashrita Furman. They were clearly inspired by the 57-year-old from New York, who, the day before this game, at an aquarium in Brazil, set a new world record for underwater rope jumping – more than 900 in an hour.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg. Mr Furman has set 384 official records since 1979, such as juggling on a pogo stick the furthest distance, the fastest mile while balancing a milk bottle on top of his head and, with his pal, quickest time for a mile-long piggyback.

Mr Furman says he’s doing it to show ‘human capacity is unlimited if we truly believe in ourselves’. Either that or he’s bonkers.

After a couple of testing weeks both on and off the pitch, Pool needed to display the same mental fortitude as Mr Furman against Brighton – and they did.

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It is hard to overstate how important the three points are. Defeat and the season, while not over, would have been in serious danger of petering out.

As it is, Holloway’s men are right back in there, with as good a chance as anyone of making the top six.

It remains incredibly tight, though, and it will still require a hell of an effort to get to the play-offs, especially when one considers Pool have to face Southampton and Reading before the month’s out.

There was a much more important reason for victory than league position, and that was just to get a bit of feelgood factor back.

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After recovering from their customary slow start, Holloway’s men were sublime, finally mastering the tricky Bloomfield Road pitch.

Holloway made three changes, bringing in Neal Eardley, Keith Southern and Kevin Phillips.

Importantly, he switched Alex Baptiste to the centre of defence alongside Ian Evatt. Baptiste was excellent and must stay in that position now – he’s so good at defending it seems almost wasteful to have him at right-back.

Eardley, meanwhile, did well in that role, Southern was Herculean in the midfield, while Kevin Phillips, well, what can you say?

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The bloke just keeps on producing the goods and anyone who had any doubts about whether a fella two years shy of his 40th birthday could still deliver the goods, has got their answer time and time again.

His two strikes here made it 15 for the season and four goals against Brighton. Gus Poyet’s pre-match fears about the striker proved spot on.

It didn’t go to plan initially though, with the visitors starting much the better.

Matt Gilks made wonder save number 357 of the season when he brilliantly clawed away Craig Mackail-Smith’s close-range header five minutes in.

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Moments later, though, Gilks could do nothing when Joe Mattock headed Vicente’s corner into the top corner via a deflection off Southern.

At this point things looked a little bleak, but a team who have made more comebacks this season than George Foreman, Evander Holyfield and Muhammad Ali combined, once again, did the business and fought back.

Southern had a shot cleared off the line by Adam El-Abd, Tom Ince’s goalbound shot was blocked by a combination of Gonzalo Jara and the keeper Peter Brezovan, and Gary Taylor-Fletcher and Kevin Phillips both had good efforts saved.

Pool were well on top, attacking with confidence and intent, and fully deserved an equaliser which arrived eight minutes before the break.

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It was created by Stephen Crainey’s curling cross and scored by Evatt, who made the most of some poor defending to tap in at the back post.

Then, 117 seconds later, the turnaround was complete. Ince – fabulous all game – crossed from the right and Kevin Phillips slammed home from 10 yards out.

Backed brilliantly by a noisy crowd, the Seasiders roared forward and suddenly looked the team they were in the first few dizzyingly good weeks of 2012.

Kevin Phillips could have had two more before the break, while Ince miskicked in front of goal after another fine burst down the left from Crainey.

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The second half wasn’t quite so exciting as Pool, with their noses in front, displayed a little more caution.

They were able to take their foot off the gear further when Brighton defender Jara got himself a second red card in successive visits to Bloomfield Road.

Sent off in West Brom colours last season for a clattering challenge on Luke Varney, the full-back had another rush of blood here – lunging in two-footed on Southern and leaving referee Simon Hooper with little option but to give the player his marching orders.

Southern, who has had a torrid few months with illness and injuries, was fine, picking himself up as usual with the minimum of fuss and getting on with things.

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A man to the good, the Seasiders perhaps sat back a little too much, though understandably – they were in front in a game they desperately needed to win, so what was the point of taking risks?

It could have backfired – Vicente, one-time Spanish superstar, grazing the post with a beauty of a free-kick, and Gilks getting down smartly to smother Will Buckley’s low shot.

Any nerves disappeared on 80 minutes when Kevin Phillips grabbed his second, diverting Taylor-Fletcher’s drive into the net. A proper poacher’s goal.

Massive credit to Ince in the build up – his run down the right was superb. If he stays in this type of form, Ince will be key to Pool’s chances of going up.

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On the other flank, Matt Phillips – who was outshining Ince a few weeks ago – isn’t quite back to that same level of form he displayed during his run of 10 goals in 10 games.

What I like about him is that even when things aren’t quite going his way, he works hard and tries to make up for any mistake he might make.

He came close with a shot from distance in the second half and definitely has a big role to play between now and the end of the season.

Holloway changed his front three in the closing stages, withdrawing the Phillips lads and Ince, but victory had already been ensured.

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Best performance at Bloomfield Road since Middlesbrough were swatted aside on January 2, and it came in the nick of time.

Pool desperately needed three points here. Another maximum haul against Leicester and maybe we can dare to dream again.

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