Blackpool cruise beyond Boro
18th Sept, 2012. 20:00
Thanks to the imperious Tom Ince, the clinical Nathan Delfouneso and the tenacity of a tight midfield unit, Blackpool again swept aside tough-looking opponents at Bloomfield Road.
Middlesbrough, tipped as dark horses for promotion from the Championship this campaign, tried to contain without serious intent when in possession and were picked off almost at will by a home side insistent on finishing this one early.
And if it were not for sloppy defending moments before half-time, Delfouneso's two first-half goals would have been enough of a platform for Blackpool not to have broken sweat after the break. As it was Andre Bikey`s header set up a nervy opening 10 minutes of the second half, re-kicking the likes of Ince and Gary Taylor-Fletcher into gear, with the former capping off another stunning performance with a goal, nicely rounding the goalkeeper for the third.
Late on Elliot Grandin won and then dispatched a penalty - much to the annoyance of Delfouneso, who was denied a hat-trick - to round off a team display to really behold.
The fluidity of passing and movement has been a hallmark of the tangerine success over the last 12 months, but the introduction of added dimensions in midfield and emergence of further talent from wide has seen Ian Holloway transform his side from play-off hopefuls to possible automatic promotion material. It is far too early to say probable, even though the omens are good.
Isaiah Osbourne possesses the type of leggy engine needed in a three-man midfield, someone who is willing to break the shackles and dictate proceedings higher up the pitch. Put bluntly, he is a step up from the departed Keith Southern, with the pair facing off on Monday.
Tiago Gomes has vibrancy that unsettles his opposite numbers while Ince, GTF and whoever leads the line feel that due to the added running between lines - clever movement, put simply - gives them more freedom to take up spaces in which they are relatively unmarkable. Especially at home, it means they can command the game and pin the likes of Tony Mowbray`s Boro back.
It was a fixture they were never going to lose and after six changes, just goes to show what a frightening proposition Holloway has assembled.