David Goodwillie’s goal after sixteen seconds was emphatically overturned by Derby County, as strikes from Chris Martin, Craig Bryson and Patrick Bamford secured a 3-1 win over Blackpool at Bloomfield Road.
With the Tangerines having won only two of their previous 24 games in all competitions, the home supporters could have been forgiven for thinking Goodwillie’s 25-yard thunderbolt, virtually from kick-off, was too good to be true.
The goal occurred after a long diagonal pass was only half cleared by Jake Buxton, with the ball ricocheting off of Bryson and then George Thorne before being collected by the Scottish forward, who lashed it into the roof of the net to stun the visitors.
However, the Tangerines’ lead lasted a mere 100 seconds, as Johnny Russell scampered down the left-hand side, prior to seeing his low cross turned into the net by Martin from inside the six-yard box.
The former Norwich City forward’s goal marked Martin’s twentieth of the campaign and his fourth against Blackpool this season, after netting a hat-trick against the Tangerines in the 5-1 demolition at the iPro Stadium earlier in the campaign.
It was a frantic opening, as Barry Ferguson deployed a 4-3-3 formation, looking to match up with the Rams, with Elliot Grandin, Andy Keogh and Goodwillie in attack. But the forwards lacked discipline and failed to track back when required, leaving gaps down the wings for Derby to exploit.
And it was Derby’s left-hand side in particular that proved most fruitful, with right-back Tony McMahon hideously exposed when Bryson crossed for Bamford to turn the game on its head inside 14 minutes.
Bryson’s high pressing was causing the trio of Blackpool midfielders plenty of problems, as they appeared nervous in possession, while for the Rams, Thorne was proving Derby’s metronome, spraying passes across the pitch in a confident manner and was often the source of the host’s attacking moves.
It was the West Bromwich Albion loanee’s quick thinking that fired Derby into a two goal advantage. Thorne’s early free-kick released Bryson down the left, who cut inside and drilled the ball into the bottom corner, past goalkeeper Matthew Gilks after 19 minutes.
Bamford almost doubled his tally on the night in the first-half, when he latched onto Bryson’s through ball, but the on loan Chelsea striker was thwarted by the onrushing Gilks.
At half-time, Ferguson looked to add steel to his midfield by introducing Neil Bishop in place of Elliot Grandin, switching to a 4-2-3-1 formation. The Scotsman’s amend almost had an instant impact, as lone striker Keogh forced Grant into a wonderful save from point blank range minutes after the restart.
However, other than Keogh’s close range header, Blackpool failed to really test the former Burnley shot stopper, as Derby repelled a barrage of long balls into the penalty area, with substitute Bishop displaying his frustration, slamming the turf after nodding a cross wide of goal.
In fact it was the Rams who came closest to finding the back of the net again, with Bryson’s first-time left footed shot well held by Gilks, before the Scotsman was denied by a terrific last ditch tackle from Craig Cathcart just as he was about to pull the trigger after collecting Will Hughes’ perfectly weighted pass.
The result elevates Steve McClaren's men back up to third in the Championship table, above Queens Park Rangers, although the gap above Derby to second, and below them to seventh, still remains at 11 points.
Blackpool: Gilks (GK), McMahon, Cathcart, MacKenzie, Robinson, Angel (Basham 55'), Perkins, Grandin (Bishop 45’), Dobbie (Barkhuizen 68'), Keogh, Goodwillie.
Substitutes not used: Halstead (GK), Osbourne, Halliday, Haroun.
Derby County: Grant (GK); Wisdom, Keogh, Buxton, Forsyth; Thorne (Bailey 90'), Bryson, Hughes (Eustace 83'); Bamford (Sammon 77’), Russell, Martin.
Substitutes not used: Legzdins (GK), Whitbread, Naylor, O’Brien.
Attendance: 13,435 (1,077 visiting supporters).