Blackpool earned a hard-fought 1-0 victory against Stevenage at Bloomfield Road to maintain their play-off ambitions.
The Seasiders could have won more convincingly as they struck the woodwork three times during the match, but Jack Cullen’s confident penalty in the 15th minute – which came after Jack King’s handball – proved enough to separate the sides.
The visitors dominated possession in the opening stages but failed to threaten the Blackpool goal, with only Steven Schumacher managing to drag a strike well wide from the edge of the box.
Blackpool had only tried their luck from range themselves by that point, but nearly took a sensational lead in the 12th minute through Jordan Flores, who struck against the bar from 25 yards out with his fine curling effort.
It was a let off for Stevenage, but they allowed Blackpool another chance to go ahead just moments later when King handballed in the area, and the referee immediately pointed to the spot.
Despite their well-documented penalty woes in recent weeks – Brad Potts was the latest to miss in the weekend draw at Wycombe – Cullen made no mistake from 12 yards. He sent the goalkeeper the wrong way with an excellent spot-kick into the bottom-right corner.
Gary Bowyer’s side hit the woodwork for a second time midway through the half, as Kelvin Mellor hit the post from a tight angle after Potts’ looping header fell to him inside the six yard box.
After an unconvincing start, The Boro began to show some intent late in the half. King had the chance to make up for conceding the earlier penalty when the ball fell kindly for him in the six yard box, but he fired well over.
Nathan Delfouneso almost doubled Pool’s lead shortly before the interval when his goalbound shot was diverted by a Stevenage diving header, and the hosts had another header cleared off the line moments later.
Clark Robertson had to make an excellent challenge in the box in stoppage-time before a long-range Stevenage volley was well blocked.
The Tangerines held their lead going into the break, but it was the visitors who once again started better after half-time.
Jobi McAnuff cut in from the left and saw his shot blocked from the edge, before Ben Kennedy picked up on the loose ball and forced Blackpool goalkeeper Dean Lyness to save his low strike from the left side of the box.
Stevenage sustained their superiority for a little longer, and Luke Wilkinson might have levelled matters ten minutes after the break but instead headed straight at Lyness from a promising position.
Blackpool began to regain control as Cullen acrobatically volleyed just past the post before Mellor headed back across goal to set up another goalmouth scramble, but none of the home attackers could convert.
Colin Daniel’s curling effort from the left with just under a quarter of an hour remaining then drifted just wide of the far post.
Away substitute Josh McQuoid almost provided a rare moment of quality when he cut inside from the left and dragged a shot just wide of the near post in a desperate last few minutes for the visitors.
The hosts then went up the other end of the field and hit the woodwork for the third time, as Stevenage goalkeeper Chris Day parried substitute Ian Black’s strike from distance and fellow second-half introduction slammed the rebound against the post from just metres out.
King’s volley was well saved in stoppage time as Stevenage pushed for an equalizer in the dying moments, but Blackpool held firm to make it seven games unbeaten while also ending the visitors’ run of nine matches without defeat.
Blackpool: Lyness; Mellor, Aldred, Robertson, Taylor; Payne, Potts (Black, 68), Flores (Danns, 64), Daniel; Cullen (Matt, 76), Delfouneso. Subs not used: Slocombe, Aimson, Osayi-Samuel and Gnanduillet.
Stevenage: Day; King, Wilkinson, Franks, Ogilvie; McAnuff (McQuoid, 73), Godden, Schumacher, Lee; Pett, Kennedy (Hinds, 64). Subs not used: Preston, Gorman, Tonge, McKee and Ntlhe.
Referee: Ross Joyce (Cleveland)
Attendance: 2,456 (188)