Report: Blackpool 2 Hartlepool 1
Blackpool jumped to fifth in League Two table as Kyle Vassell’s late winner earned three points against Hartlepool United.
The Seasiders found themselves a goal down in the early on, however, as a defensive error at the back allowed Lewis Alessandra to finish in the bottom corner.
Thankfully for Pool, Bright Osayi-Samuel equalised in quick-fire fashion, drilling the ball across the Hartlepool goal and just inside the post.
And it was left for Vassell, who was returning from a month out, to win it with a cross-cum-shot which dropped in at the back post.
The visitors threw caution to the wind in the final minutes of the game, but Blackpool held on for a vital three points in the race for the play-offs.
Brad Potts was lively in the opening stages as the home side looked to take an early lead. The midfielder had a shot blocked on the edge of the box, then Tom Aldred headed just wide from Jack Payne’s wide cross.
With just under 20 minutes gone, Hartlepool took the lead through Alessandra. Much against the run of play, a mix-up between Aldred and Mellor at the back allowed the wide player to latch onto the ball inside the Blackpool box. After a twist and a turn, Alessandra fired past a helpless Dean Lyness with his right foot to open the scoring.
The lead wasn’t to last long, however, as Osayi-Samuel levelled within minutes. Making up for his earlier mistake, Mellor intercepted a loose pass in his own half and drove down the pitch to find Nathan Delfouneso. He crossed deep into the box where Osayi-Samuel brought the ball down, shifted it on to his left, and rifled home the equaliser across goal.
The visitors almost responded again with Pool’s defence looking uncharacteristically shaky. A superb save from Lyness denied Lewis Hawkins from close range after another defensive mix-up, and Lyness was on hand to save Padraig Amond’s following effort, too.
Alessandra was close to putting his side back in the lead from 25 yards, but another great save from Lyness forced the ball out for a corner.
Potts’ lung-busting run late on in the half earned a corner, but Blackpool failed to take a lead into half-time.
Half-time score: Blackpool 1 Hartlepool 1
Blackpool started the second 45 on the front foot and had two chances fall to the in-form Mark Cullen.
The Geordie striker was first played in by Osayi-Samuel on the counter-attack but was forced into a blocked effort from outside the area by the visiting defence.
Then, Clark Robertson sent a searching ball through the Hartlepool lines from deep to send Cullen through. The striker’s left foot shot, though, was wide of the mark.
Neil Danns was next to go close, but, again, Blackpool failed to hit the target after the midfielder’s run in-behind was found by Colin Daniel.
At the other end, Dave Jones’ side nearly hit Blackpool with a sucker punch on the break. Amond found himself one-on-one with Lyness after Nathan Thomas broke through the Pool defence. Amond shot early, and the Blackpool stopper continued to keep the scores level with a fine, low save.
Delfouneso made way for Flores with 20 minutes to go, as both teams went searching for a winner.
Potts, who had been moved to the right hand side, tried the spectacular inside the opposing box, but could agonisingly only find the side netting.
With his final substitutions, Gary Bowyer rolled the dice by bringing on the returning Vassell for the first time since picking up an injury against Barnet. Ian Black replaced Danns, too, to shore up the midfield.
Shortly after, Blackpool found themselves in behind the Hartlepool defence once more. Potts this time hit the target, but Joe Fryer was able to make the save.
Not long after, though, Bowyer’s substitutions and Blackpool’s pressure paid off. Vassell put Pool in the lead, looping the ball over Fryer’s head from a tight angle. The Hartlepool goalkeeper had saved Vassell’s first effort, but was left with no chance with the second as Pool’s number seven found the bottom corner with his cross-cum-shot.
Hartlepool huffed and puffed towards the end, sending the goalkeeper up for the final set-pieces, but the three points were to stay at Bloomfield Road as Blackpool’s unbeaten run stretched to nine.
Full-time result: Blackpool 2 Hartlepool 1