Blackpool boss delivered this verdict on the key to their win over Sunderland

Blackpool boss Neil Critchley paid tribute to his side's defensive efforts after their crucial win over Sunderland on Saturday.

Sunday, 18th April 2021, 8:00 am

Critchley's side now sit fifth in the League One table, but are only three points behind the Black Cats and have played one game less.

There was an element of good fortune about their winning strike as Luke Garbutt's cross took a deflection to beat Lee Burge, but the visitors struggled to carve out clear chances both before and after the goal.

Sunderland were unfortunate to see Aiden McGeady's strike hit the post with the scores still level, but Critchley was thrilled with his team's resilience.

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Charlie Wyke sees a shot saved by Chris Maxwell

Centre-halves Dan Ballard and Daniel Leo Gretarsson were particularly impressive as they repelled a number of crosses into the box.

“I thought it was two good teams on the pitch," Critchley said.

"We had the best chance in the first-half, they hit the post in the second-half and after we’ve scored we had to withstand quite a bit of pressure.

“Psychologically this is big for us though to keep a clean sheet, because there’s been a few games recently - Plymouth at home, Wimbledon at home - where we’ve conceded near the end of the game.

“Over the course of a 46-game league season you have to find different ways of winning, to scrap and battle it out and I thought our players did that extremely well today.

“Considering the quality of players they’ve got in the attacking line, our back four were superb. In Aiden McGeady, Charlie Wyke and Jordan Jones, you’re talking about top, top players in this league who shouldn’t really be playing in this division. They’ve got great attacking options to come off the bench as well.

“But I don’t remember Chris Maxwell having too much to do in the first-half. They’ve hit the post in the second-half and they’ve had some moments, some corners, some crosses, there was some pressure we had to withstand but our grit and our resilience from the defenders and the protection they got in front of them was fantastic.”

Blackpool will travel to the Stadium of Light a week on Tuesday for the return fixture.

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