Armand Gnanduillet’s double was enough to see off a spirited Southend United display as Blackpool beat Blues 2-1 at Bloomfield Road.
Despite having the better of the first half, Gnanduillet would nod the Tangerines in front from close range just after the half-hour mark, getting on the end of a Liam Feeney cross.
The Frenchman would then double Blackpool’s advantage when sub Nathan Delfouneso was fouled in the box by Mark Oxley with Gnanduillet sending the ‘keeper the wrong way with his spot-kick.
Stephen McLaughlin would halve the deficit with a brilliantly taken effort that thundered into the top corner from 30-yards out, but Blues were unable to avoid defeat.
Victory for Simon Grayson’s side lifted the pressure on the Blackpool manager after an eight-game winless run prior to today, with Southend unable to build on last weekend’s win against Lincoln.
Sol Campbell was forced into making two changes for the visit to Lancashire with Timothee Dieng and Sam Mantom returning from injury to replace the injured John White and Harry Phillips.
Contrary to their positions in the league, Southend had been the form side coming into today’s game against the Tangerines who, as mentioned, hadn’t won in eight and had lost their last four.
Remarkably, it was Blackpool’s first home league game of 2020 and they almost made a perfect start on their return home as Armand Gnanduillet had an effort cleared off the line by Tom Clifford.
But after that early scare in just the third minute, Southend settled and Sam Barratt tested goalkeeper Chris Maxwell with a first-time effort from distance that was well held by the ‘keeper.
As the half wore on, the visitors would have the better of the opportunities with Mark Milligan and Stephen McLaughlin both having good chances to open the scoring but failing to hit the target.
Southend’s best chance though came after the half-hour mark when a poor touch from Ben Heneghan put McLaughlin clean through, but he was unable to beat Maxwell with a delicate chip.
It was a chance that Blues would rue missing too as just three minutes later the home side would take the lead through Gnanduilett, scoring his first goal in five matches for Blackpool.
Liam Feeney had been getting into good crossing positions all afternoon and this time he picked out a cross that took Mark Oxley out of the equation, leaving Gnanduillet to head in from close range.
It was a tough one to take for Sol Campbell’s side who’d arguably been the better team in the first half, but they looked to make amends quickly after the restart.
Within a couple of minutes of the interval, the ball fell kindly to Timothee Dieng who saw an effort blocked before Sam Mantom forced a good save out of Maxwell with a stinging strike from distance.
Backed by almost 300 boisterous Southend fans, the visitors weren’t able to make their pressure count and they would fall further behind after the hour when Blackpool were awarded a penalty.
Nathan Delfouneso, seconds after coming on, was fouled in the box by Oxley, allowing Gnanduillet to step up and score his fifth career goal against Blues and put Blackpool firmly in control.
It was looking like a long way back now for Southend who needed two just to get something out of the contest but they gave themselves a fighting chance with a fantastic goal from McLaughlin.
The Irishman picked the ball up 30-yards from goal and decided to have a go, superbly thundering the ball beyond a helpless Maxwell and finding the top right-hand corner.
With time running out, Southend forced a number of late corners as they went in search of an equaliser that their battling display had deserved but they were unable to find the breakthrough.
In the end, Gnanduillet’s double had been enough to stop Southend who next face another tough test away to Peterborough United this coming Tuesday.
Blackpool XI: Maxwell, Bola, Heneghan, Spearing (C) (Virtue 83’), Feeney, Dewsbury-Hall, Turton, Gnanduillet, Madine (Delfouneso 61’), Ronan (Ward 90+2’), Moore. Subs Not Used: Sims, Thorniley, Nuttall, McDonald
Blues XI: Oxley, Bwomono, Milligan, Dieng (C), McLaughlin, Mantom, Kelman (Rush 82’), Demetriou, Barratt (Goodship 46’), Clifford, Hutchinson (Kinali 60’). Subs Not Used: Taylor, Egbri, Coker, Mitchell-Nelson
Referee: Anthony Backhouse
Assistants: Alan Clayton & Richard
Fourth Official: Wade Smith
Blackpool: Armand Gnanduillet 37’, (p)64’
Southend United: Stephen McLaughlin 72’
Southend United: Stephen McLaughlin 89’
Attendance: 7,870 (291 Away Fans)