Goals from Brad Potts, Jack Payne, Kyle Vassell and Kelvin Mellor secured a convincing 4-1 win for Blackpool as they rolled over bottom club Newport County.
Sam Slocombe’s super penalty save when the score was all square in the second-half kept Pool in it, but Gary Bowyer’s side were the better team from there on in.
Blackpool were to finish with ten men, however, with goal scorer Mellor stretchered off in the final minutes.
It took just over three minutes for The Seasiders to make the breakthrough. Payne’s through ball found the third man run of Potts inside County full-back Dan Butler. It was then a race to the ball between Potts and the opposition goalkeeper Joe Day. Day got there first but could only cannon the ball off Pool’s number eight, leaving Potts with an open goal to tap in to.
Exiles’ right-back Jazzi Barnum-Bobb tried his best to reply with a quick equaliser, but his cross-cum-shot could only fizz behind after a deflection.
Blackpool’s slender lead was neutralised soon after, however. Rhys Healey’s quick, nimble feet carved himself an opportunity and he just managed to squeeze it past Slocombe in the Blackpool goal.
Healey continued to make himself a nuisance to the Seaside defence. A ball in behind was latched onto by the pacey striker but two last-ditch tackles from Tom Aldred prevented any further damage, though.
Clark Robertson forced a save late into the first 45 after Aldred found his centre-back partner in the opposition box, but ended with the ball comfortably in Day’s arms.
Blackpool cranked up the pressure minutes before the break, and very nearly scored a second on more than one occasion. First, Colin Daniel’s speculative effort, deflected, then looped over the goalkeeper. Despite looking destined for the net, the ball hit the post and rolled across the goal line.
Then, Jamille Matt was bundled over in the penalty area by Darren Jones, but was waved away by official Mark Heywood.
Mellor headed just over before the whistle but both sides were to go in with the spoils shared at half time.
Half-time score: Blackpool 1 – 1 Newport County
Blackpool started the brightest in the second-half, but it was the Welsh visitors who had the first chance. Skipper Sean Rigg firing just over on the half-volley.
Minutes later, however, Mark Randall collided with Andy Taylor inside Pool’s box which prompted the referee to point to the spot for a soft-looking penalty. The Tangerines will feel that justice was served, though, as Slocombe brilliantly got down to his right and saved Rigg’s strike.
On the hour mark, Blackpool took a deserved lead through Payne. Matt’s superb hold-up play invited the midfielder to strike first time from the edge of the area. The first shot was blocked, but the rebound fell straight back to him, and this time he made no mistake. His second effort placed perfectly into to left side of the Newport net.
Daniel’s ferocious effort and Matt’s solo strike both nearly made it three moments later, but neither could keep their efforts on target.
They didn’t have to wait too long for the third to come, however, Vassell netted his ninth league goal of the season with 20 minutes to go. A long, searching ball was met by the returning striker, who muscled Abdoulaye Meite off the ball on his way to goal. Blackpool’s number 9 shot across the ‘keeper with his left foot, an inch-perfect finish blasted just inside the post.
More chances continued to fall to Blackpool’s leading scorer, he forced a corner with a right-footed shot. Substitute Bright Osayi-Samuel crossed in to the near post, and there was Mellor, unmarked, to nod home a fourth.
Another of Bowyer’s subs almost made it five, Danny Philliskirk, who replaced Matt, shot just wide after a scramble in the visitor’s area.
Victory for The Seasiders brought them back into the play-off positions going into the festive period.
Full time result: Blackpool 4 – 1 Newport County
By Peter McCarthy