Report: Blackpool 1 Stevenage 0
Mark Cullen’s strike from the spot earned Blackpool a vital three points against promotion-chasing rivals Stevenage.
The striker's effort was the only goal of the game, though several chances were missed by both sides.
The Seasiders hit the post three times through Jordan Flores, Kelvin Mellor and Jamille Matt but were frustratingly unable to double their lead.
Jack King had the visitors’ best chance of the game, firing over from a matter of yards, however Blackpool were able to hold on for a well-earned home victory.
As two of the league’s in-form teams did battle, both sides shared possession in the opening stages of the game.
Blackpool were to go closest early on through Flores on 12 minutes. The on-loan midfielder from Wigan crashed the bar with a whipped effort from 20 yards out, which had Stevenage goalkeeper Chris Day scrambling.
Minutes later, Pool took the lead through a penalty. Jack King handled at the back post whilst challenging Clark Robertson from a deep cross. Cullen stepped up to send the veteran goalkeeper the wrong way to continue his fine form in front of goal.
Blackpool began to dominate after the opening goal and Mellor was the second victim to fall to the Stevenage goal frame. The fullback’s close-range effort from a set-piece went agonisingly close to making it two.
Brad Potts continued the pressure on the 30 minute mark, his long-range drive fired just a foot over the bar, however.
The Hertfordshire side, who were on a four-game winning streak, tried to claw their way back into the match before half-time through King. The centre-half tried to make amends for his handball from a corner, but could only fire over the bar from three yards out following a fine Dean Lyness save.
Pool then had two chances of their own to score before the interval. First, Nathan Delfouneso went close after a one-two with Potts which started in Blackpool’s half. Luke Wilkinson tracked back just in time, however, to make the block.
Then, Tom Aldred had a header cleared off the line after another threatening set-piece from Blackpool.
Half-time score: Blackpool 1 Stevenage 0
Darren Sarll’s team came out for the second 45 searching for a quick equaliser. Ben Kennedy had a low strike trouble Blackpool in the half’s first attack, but Lyness again was on hand to keep the home side in the lead.
With just under an hour gone Blackpool were inches from doubling their lead. A cross from Mellor was met by goal scorer Cullen. The striker adjusted his body and met the ball high in mid-air with a volley. The 41-year-old in the Stevenage goal was left helpless and was lucky not to concede what would have been a contender for Goal of the Season.
Frustratingly, Cullen went close again moments later. This time having an effort cleared off the line from a corner.
Neil Danns was introduced after an hour, he slotted into the midfield to replace the impressive Flores. The substitution was followed up with another shortly after, with Potts being forced off with an injury and experienced enforcer Ian Black replacing him.
Matt was Gary Bowyer’s final substitution as he came on for Cullen, who had put in a tireless shift up top. Almost immediately, Matt became the third Pool player to strike the post. The striker hit the woodwork by following in on a 20-yard effort from Black, which was pushed out by Day.
Stevenage piled on the pressure late on with the referee adding five minutes of additional time. The Pool defence remained resolute, though, and held on for vital win in the final push for the play-offs.
Full-time result: Blackpool 1 Stevenage 0