The old cliché that gets thrown around at this time of the season is that fixtures against teams near you become ‘six pointers’. So for Blackpool to win both their relegation ‘six pointers’ over the Easter period was huge.
Both wins came at a time when even the most optimistic of Pool supporters were starting to plan for life in League Two next season. Prior to the 2-1 victory away at Crewe Alexandra, Pool were on an eight-game winless streak, yet another one of those runs which have plagued Neil McDonald’s side this season.
Without a win since the end of January (a 1-0 defeat to Gillingham); if Pool lost at Crewe, then alarm bells would have been ringing loudly across the Fylde coast, because Crewe are as good as down, marooned at the bottom of League One and now eleven points from safety.
Prior to that game, Blackpool were in the relegation zone themselves, and anything other than three points against a team in that situation would have severely knocked the belief and spirit amongst the players in Pool’s dressing room.
At this stage of the season, and in the position McDonald’s side find themselves, they will take any points they can, and not care how they acquire them. Performances become secondary to results, and of course you need some luck along the way.
So McDonald must have been saluting magpies for days to come after the three points against Crewe; going down to ten-men after forty minutes, and then seeing Crewe’s Brad Inman sky over a last minute penalty that would have levelled things up. But you need rubs of the green like that if you’re to have any chance of staying up.
Pool made it hard work for themselves in their latest victory too, a 1-0 triumph at fellow relegation rivals Doncaster Rovers, with Mark Cullen’s late strike coming after eighty-seven minutes of hardly anything to note. Poor quality from both teams and a lack of any sort of tactical plan from McDonald meant Blackpool were trudging to a bore draw which no one would ever talk about again, but somehow they pulled off another vital three points to help our survival fight.
Although results are more important than performances at this stage of the campaign, it is rather frustrating that McDonald wants to just play a hit and hope game. His post-match comments about how pleased he was with his counter-attacking plan coming off against Doncaster are rather disconcerting.
Pool were facing a team without a win in fourteen games, so setting up to counter-attack weak opposition stinks of negativity. But I suppose it’s just the results that matter now, right?