In League One, much has been made about Portsmouth this season. They finally look like a side who can go the distance, and achieve promotion back to The Championship.
Portsmouth found themselves 27 games unbeaten, and were flying high at the top of the League One table, as the only unbeaten side left in the division.
That was, until, Blackpool turned up, and ran riot. Owen Dale scored against the club he was on loan at last season, with Jake Beesley, CJ Hamilton and Albie Morgan also getting on the scoresheet, as Blackpool thumped four past a sorry-looking home side.
But how did Blackpool manage to pull it off? Was it all just luck, or was it a well-deserved victory for The Seasiders?
A Willingness To Attack
Blackpool have come under much scrutiny from their own fans due to their inability to attack sides away from home.
There have been multiple times this season where The Seasiders have failed to impress, and have looked lacklustre when going forward.
Yet against Portsmouth, Neil Critchley made sure the fans knew that Blackpool were not going to be sitting back against the side at the top of the table, they were travelling with the intention to attack and win.
That was certainly the case as well. Blackpool settled into the game well, and took their time on the ball, but had the intention of getting forward at every opportunity.
The early, and slightly fortuitous, goal from Owen Dale settled Blackpool into the game, and whilst there were a few slight scares from Portsmouth, they looked relatively comfortable.
Even late into the game, where Critchley would often opt to go defensive, he remained attacking. The red card for Portsmouth certainly will have helped there, but Blackpool fans will have been glad to see their side not sit back and go defensive for once.
Steering Clear of ‘Hoofball’
Another thing Blackpool have been guilty of this season is relying on long ball tactics, even when it does not seem to be working.
With Beesley partnering Jordan Rhodes up front, Blackpool may be forgiven for trying the long ball tactic, but despite the pairs height, they have not been able to figure out a successful formulae as of yet.
Fixtures away against Wycombe, Exeter, Bolton and Lincoln have all shown that, especially away from home, Blackpool struggle to play long ball.
Against Portsmouth, many may have expected the same, with Beesley and Rhodes partnering each other up top again.
But the deployment of Karamoko Dembele behind the strikers in recent weeks has given Blackpool a new lease of life.
When The Seasiders can work the ball to the winger, he drifts inside and provides brilliant linkup play between himself and the strikers, and with CJ Hamilton when he overlaps.
It helped Blackpool massively as it allowed them to control the midfield, and they took their time when moving forward, often finding CJ Hamilton on the overlap in acres of space.
Blackpool seemingly enjoyed the space they were allowed at Fratton Park, as Kenny Dougall had one of his best games in tangerine since his brace in the League One Playoff Final.
Key Decisions Going In Their Favour
Often Blackpool find themselves on the wrong end of key decisions in games. Away against Wycombe they had a perfectly good goal ruled out for offside that would have got them back into the game.
Against Portsmouth however, the key decisions in the game went Blackpool’s way. At 1-0, Portsmouth had the ball in the back of the net, only to see it ruled out for a shove on a Blackpool player.
It kept Blackpool in the lead, who then went on to double their advantage, but not without a bit of controversy.
Karamoko Dembele cut inside from the right wing, drifted in before curling an effort towards goal. There were suggestions, and protests, that Jake Beesley had either obstructed the goalkeeper, and got a touch on the ball from an offside position.
The protests were ignored and the goal was given, and rightly so, with replays showing Beesley fractionally onside when Dembele took the shot.
Later in the second half, there were two quick fire decisions that effectively sealed the loss for Portsmouth.
First, Portsmouth had a penalty turned down, which in real time, looked very 50-50, but upon the replay, it looked to be a very good decision by the referee.
Shortly after that, Joe Morrell committed a foul and received a second yellow card, reducing Portsmouth to 10 men.
From there on out, Blackpool were coasting. They scored a further two goals and rarely looked threatened.
After a huge 3 points, Blackpool will hope that can carry them towards a top 6 finish, as they look to return to The Championship.
Next up for them, is a double header at home, as they host Northampton in midweek, and then Carlisle on the Saturday.