Blackpool defeat high-flying Wigan to ease the pressure
Before Tuesday night, Blackpool F.C faced the prospect of falling into relegation territory. The Seasiders needed to dig a result out against League One leaders Wigan Athletic.
Gary Bowyer was determined to ensure his side came away with something from the DW Stadium. Before kickoff, Blackpool had dropped four points in the previous two games. A 1-1 stalemate with relegation-threatened Bury was followed by a 2-2 home draw against mid-table Walsall. The Seasiders' last league victory was all the way back on New Year's Day against Rochdale. It was vital to pick up points away at Wigan.
With only three minutes on the clock, Blackpool took the lead. Defender Kelvin Mellor picked up possession on the edge of Wigan's box and attempted a shot. Armand Gnanduillet was the quickest to react, flicking the ball in off the post to record his third goal this campaign.
Mellor continued to be a menace. From a 37th minute corner, the 27-year-old found space inside Wigan's penalty area before slotting past goalkeeper Christian Walton. It was the right-back's fifth league goal this season. The Seasiders held on to their 2-0 advantage to secure three valuable points.
It was Wigan's second consecutive defeat. This one proved more significant though. With Shrewsbury Town beating Fleetwood, the Latics lost top position. Manager Paul Cook must now reinvigorate his charges for upcoming matches to reclaim first place.
Wigan trail one point behind Shrewsbury but have played a game less. Another positive for the Latics is that the four teams occupying play-off positions have all played either two or three matches more. Cook's side can capitalise on the games-in-hand and cement their automatic promotion spot.
After Tuesday's win, Blackpool eased relegation worries. They sit 17th, with 38 points from 32 games. The Seasiders are four points above the drop zone, yet of the seven teams positioned below, two have played fewer games, two the same and three more. Poor pitch conditions have caused havoc to the schedule.
Fleetwood, in 18th, have played 31 matches. Victory in their game-in-hand puts the Cod Army above Blackpool. Bottom side Rochdale, meanwhile, have taken to the pitch four fewer times than the Seasiders.
With the Dale having played only 28 games, while six other sides have amassed 33 matches, League One is slightly uneven at the moment.
The English third tier is a competitive division. Only 16 points separate relegation from the playoffs. Blackpool, a side fighting to stay up, defeated a Wigan team which had lost only four league games this season.
Blackpool can push on now, putting distance to the relegation zone. Wigan, meanwhile, could struggle to get back on track.
This is why English football is loved around the world. Unexpected results occur. Blackpool's win over the Latics is the latest shock this campaign, but definitely not the last.