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Blackpool 2 Gillingham 3: Brandon Hanlan scored at the death to win a thriller on the seaside

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Brandon Hanlan headed home a stoppage-time winner for Gillingham at Blackpool on Tuesday night in League 1.

The Gills looked to be heading home with another point after Nathan Delfouneso’s injury-time goal but Hanlan converted an even later effort to win it.

Brandon Hanlan got the winner for the Gills at Blackpool Picture: Ady Kerry (28976749)
Brandon Hanlan got the winner for the Gills at Blackpool Picture: Ady Kerry (28976749)

Armand Gnanduillet’s early opener had been cancelled out by John Akinde and substitute Regan Charles-Cook then put the Gills infront before Blackpool thought they had a share of the spoils - Hanlan had other ideas.

It’s now 12 games unbeaten for the Gills in League 1 and victory at Blackpool keeps their play-off hopes well and truly alive - they are now seven points outside the top six.

Steve Evans named an attack-minded team, with Hanlan back in the XI to play in the same side as Akinde, Jordan Roberts and Jordan Graham, who impressed off the bench on his debut against Burton at the weekend.

Blackpool hadn’t won a game in 10 before beating Southend at the weekend, ending a three-match losing streak in League 1 and fueling them with confidence.

The hosts certainly started the game like they meant business. Gary Madine had a shot blocked by keeper Jack Bonham a minute before the hosts took the lead.

Gnanduillet - Blackpool’s two-goal hero at the weekend - was there again for the Seasiders, fending off Gills’ defence in the box and guiding the ball past Bonham into the far corner.

Blackpool continued to look the sharper of the two sides before the Gills had a good spell of their own midway through the half. Hanlan turned well on the edge of the box before lobbing a shot wide of the far post.

The Gills striker got the better of a defender again soon after, this time laying the ball off for Graham, who was bundled over on the edge of the box. The on-loan Wolves winger got to his feet to take the free-kick but put it into the wall.

Blackpool were defending deep but almost caught the Gills out on the break when Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall slipped in Connor Ryan. His shot went into the side netting.

Hanlan glanced another effort wide for the Gills but Blackpool striker Madine wasted a great chance to put them two up before the break, meeting Marc Bola’s low ball in but the ball bounced up into the arms of a grateful Bonham. Ronan lashed another effort wide before the half-time whistle.

Stuart O’Keefe was introduced at the break in an effort to protect the back four a little more, alongside Tom O’Connor.

O’Keefe made a couple of timely interceptions as both teams struggled for a clear-cut opening at the start of the second half.

O’Connor put a speculative effort well over the bar for the Gills before Blackpool’s Dewsbury-Hall went a lot closer at the other end with a low, powerful shot that went narrowly wide.

The game turned on its head during a crazy four-minute spell. Roberts played Akinde in to level the scores as the big striker fended off the home defenders and finished well past keeper Chris Maxwell, showing a cool head.

Then with 76 minutes gone Charles-Cook took a ball down on his chest from Akinde’s flick and squeezed it home past Maxwell at the near post.

Moments later Jack Tucker almost scored with a header, a looping effort hitting the bar and bouncing out. Hanlan came close to pouncing but his follow-up was blocked.

If that goal burst was exciting, then it was trumped in stoppage time. First, Delfouneso headed home in the 91st minute but the Gills weren’t to be denied as a dramatic finale saw Hanlan head home O'Connor's corner to give the 125 away fans something to cheer about on the long journey home.

Blackpool: Maxwell, Bola, Heneghan, Spearing (Virtue 46mins), Feeney, Dewsbury-Hall, Turton, Gnanduillet, Madine (Delfouneso 76mins), Ronan (Ward 83mins), Moore. Subs not used: Sims, Nuttall, Husband, MacDonald.

Gillingham: Bonham, Fuller, Ogilvie, Tucker, Ehmer, O’Connor, Pringle (Charles-Cook 70mins), Graham (O’Keefe 46mins), Hanlan, Roberts (Mandron 90mins), Akinde. Subs not used: Walsh, Woods, Lee, Willock.

Attendance: 6,816 (125 away).

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