Blackpool Batter 'Boro
Football's a funny old game. Prior to last week the Seasiders looked impregnable at home. Not so now. Prior to tonight the Seasiders looked incapable of winning on the road. Not so now.
Although our home record has been dented, our away record has been improved almost in exchange.
Sceptics might say that one swallow doesn't make a summer, but the style of tonight's victory will give everyone connected with the club a real boost and confidence that more away wins will follow.
Ian Holloway seems to be becoming the new 'Tinkerman', but in his defence his changes have on the whole resulted in great results and so it was the case tonight.
Matt Gilks was inexplicably dropped for Paul Rachubka, whilst Alex Baptiste shifted back to right back as Ian Evatt replaced Neal Eardley. In midfield Barry Bannan and Brett Ormerod replaced Hamuer Bouazza and the injured Billy Clarke, whilst up top Gary Taylor-Fletcher came in for the injured Ben Burgess.
Middlesbrough meanwhile welcomed back Adam Johnson, and included Leroy Lita whose pace threatened to give Evatt and Rob Edwards problems.
The opening exchanges were pretty even, with Blackpool's wingers playing slightly deeper than usual as Holloway looked to adapt his tactics in an attempt to improve the club's away form.
After ten minutes, a clash of heads saw Rob Edwards led down the tunnel for stitches. Unfortunately the defender, so magnificent on Saturday, was unable to continue and was eventually replaced by Neal Eardley.
With around 20 minutes gone Blackpool took the lead. The very impressive Barry Bannan's ball found Gary Taylor-Fletcher who finished with aplomb.
Five minutes later it was 2-0 with the same two players linking up again to the same effect.
On the half hour Charlie Adam smashed a freekick just over with ex 'Pool loanee Brad Jones beaten in the 'Boro goal.
On 34 minutes Leroy Lita raced clear but was denied a certain goal by Alex Baptiste who after a dip in form of late was back to his best tonight.
A minute later and down the other end of the field Taylor-Fletcher headed straight at Jones.
Brett Ormerod then hit the side netting attempting to loan Jones after a ball over the top of a horrible 'Boro defence by Charlie Adam.
'Boro were creating the odd chance but were roundly booed off by their own fans at half time.
Gordon Strachan threw Tony McMahon on for Rhys Williams at the break and the 'Boro began the second half brighter, forcing the Seasiders back.
It was the Seasiders who went closest to scoring though, David Vaughan shooting agonisingly wide on 55 minutes.
Just before the hour 'Boro captain Gary O'Neil was stretchered off in a neck brace following a challenge by Keith Southern. He was replaced by Mark Yeates, a player highly rated by the Vital Blackpool editorial team and the ex Colchester man gave the Seasiders some problems for the remaining half hour.
Just after the hour Ian Evatt nearly scored an own goal but was relieved to see the ball go behind for a corner.
With 15 minutes left Taylor-Fletcher gave the ball away in a bad position but Mark Yeates could only fire over the bar.
As a result, Ian Holloway made a double chance: Taylor-Fletcher and Bannan left to a standing ovation to be replaced by Jason Euell and Al Bangura.
With just under 10 minutes to go, Blackpool wrapped the game up. Having missed a similar chance just moments earlier, Charlie Adam burst into the 'Boro box to fire home.
The last action of the game took place at the other end of the field however with Dave Kitson missing a sitter. It summed up 'Boro's evening.
Back up to 6th, but just imagine where we'd be if we hadn't dropped those five points last week (sorry, couldn't resist)!