Michael O’Neill ‘delighted’ his Stoke City side matched Blackpool’s high energy on and off the pitch

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Michael O’Neill was delighted with the way his Stoke City side matched Blackpool’s high energy on and off the pitch during their narrow victory at Bloomfield Road.

 

The Potters snatched the points thanks to Steven Fletcher’s close-range effort 11 minutes from time.

Blackpool, roared on by another electric atmosphere, were comfortably the better side in the first-half, but Sonny Carey and Jerry Yates both squandered gilt-edged chances.

Stoke responded well in the second-half and eventually found the winner late on, bringing an end to Blackpool’s three-game winning run.

“I’m delighted with the three points,” O’Neill said.

“I don’t think we played great in the first-half, we were a little edgy which was understandable.

“We played some good football at times, but I always thought we looked vulnerable and got ourselves in a dire situation with five players being booked.

Michael O'Neill watches on behind Neil Critchley

Michael O’Neill watches on behind Neil Critchley

“But that’s what you have to do here, you have to compete because they’re a high energy team and you have to match that.

“In the second-half we were the dominant team, looked the team more likely to win the game and thankfully we managed to find the goal.

“All over the pitch we seemed to find that extra five or 10 per cent that we needed.

“I thought our goalscorer Steven Fletcher was brilliant. Even in the first-half, his link-up play was good and he won a lot of headers.

“He lasted the game as well, which is really important.

“It was really important for the team to get a clean sheet as well. You need that security because we know we’ve got enough quality to score.

“Our support was terrific and it was a great atmosphere in the stadium. Our fans certainly contributed massively to that.

“We needed it because this is a place where the fans really get behind their team and you can see they’re enjoying being in the Championship.”