Neil Critchley spoke of his delight after his Blackpool side picked up yet another win in their “toughest” game of the season.
The Seasiders moved up to sixth place in the Championship with a hard-earned 1-0 win against Sheffield United this afternoon.
Pool had to survive large swathes of pressure from the home side, who rattled the Blackpool bar, had a goal ruled out for offside and were denied by a series of fine Dan Grimshaw stops.
But Critchley’s men stayed in the game and got their reward late on when Keshi Anderson beat the offside trap before curling home into the top corner – sending Blackpool’s 2,000 visiting supporters into bedlam.
Blackpool’s third straight win and their seventh from their last 10 means the newly-promoted Seasiders now move into the play-off places.
“When you win 1-0, keep a clean sheet and score a goal like we scored, you’d have to say it was a perfect away performance,” Critchley said.
“We knew we were facing a very good team today and a lot of Sheffield United fans will go home unhappy, but I’ve got no doubt this team – if they keep playing the way they’re playing – will be up there this season.
Neil Critchley celebrates with the Blackpool fans at the full-time whistle
“In preparation for this game, I was saying to the staff and I obviously speak to the analyst and I honestly thought this was our toughest game this season.
“The way they play, the positions they take up on the pitch and how they control the game gives you real problems.
“We rode our luck a little bit at times, the goalkeeper makes a magnificent save, they hit the crossbar, they miss a big chance in the first-half, so it’s that fine line.
“We’ve scored a magnificent goal to win the game and after that, I have to say we were quite comfortable. They didn’t really threaten the goal or create many chances.
“If anything, I felt we probably looked more likely to get the second goal.”
Blackpool’s winning goal came with 15 minutes to spare, when Dan Grimshaw beat Sheffield United’s high line with a pinpoint ball over the top.
Anderson took it down superbly before cutting inside and unleashing a curling effort into the top corner of the net.
“It looks like a big boot down the pitch, which it was, but it’s something we had highlighted before the game,” Critchley added.
“They push up very quickly and they play a high line, so if we got the timing of the run right and we get the right delivery, then we knew we could get in behind.
“Keshi shows great presence of mind and great intelligence because he times the run perfectly and then he takes the ball out of the sky, cuts back inside and unleashes a fantastic strike off his left foot into the top corner.
“It was a goal fitting to win this game.”
While the home side were unable to get the goal their play arguably deserved, they did cause the Seasiders plenty of problems with their fluid movement and one and two-touch interplay.
While Slavisa Jokanovic’s side currently languish in 17th place, Critchley has no doubt they will rise back up the table sooner rather than later.
“They’re excellent and I’m not saying that because we’ve won. They’ve got Premier League players. Look at their squad, look at their bench,” Critchley said.
“They caused us a lot of problems today and we won the game, great, but as ever we’ve not done everything right.
“We’ve got a good feeling now but that doesn’t mean we got everything right and Sheffield United could easily have won this game and I’d be standing here feeling different and speaking different.
“The games are decided on moments and the moments didn’t go for them today and they did go for us.”