With no midweek Sunderland game for the first time in what feels like an age, surely we could afford to relax last night... but no, the fixture at Bloomfield Road had many of us glued to Sky Sports or nervously refreshing our apps for score updates until a fantastic result came through. Peterborough, who started the day two points above us in second having played the same amount of games, had lost 3-1 to Blackpool and not only that, Sunderland loanee Elliot Embleton had played a key role in the victory.
Elliot Embleton with the assist anarl https://t.co/KaQPcwIsJ9— Roker Report (@RokerReport) March 23, 2021
Any pre-match nerves that we might have had about the prospect of sitting five points adrift of Darren Ferguson’s side at 9pm were settled almost immediately, when Jerry Yates struck a powerful shot home in the first minute. The scoreline remained the same until just before the break, when Joe Ward equalised for the Posh, and the growing sense of excitement amongst us dissipated. Surely the side who have been in the top two for most of the campaign would come out and claim the points in the second half?
It was the home side, however, who came out strongest after the break and Peterborough’s lacklustre performance overall was punished with two goals in seven minutes. First Yates converted a penalty on 52 minutes after a handball in the box, and then a wonderful strike from Luke Garbutt from a short corner by Embleton won them the game on 58. Cue celebrations on Sunderland (and Blackpool) social media at what feels like a pivotal result in the League One promotion race overall.
Kristjaan Speakman, in his interview with the SAFC Unfiltered podcast, explained that both the club and Embleton had been very selective when it came to deciding which team he would go out on loan to. The Blackpool manager, Neil Critchley, is highly regarded and employs similar methods and ethos to Lee Johnson, and as such the Tangerines were considered the perfect outfit to allow Embleton to develop when, given the competition for places, game time at Sunderland may have been limited.
Embleton. Why Sunderland lent him to us I’ve no idea. What a performance last 2 games @RokerReport— Mark Webster (@mark_webster87) March 23, 2021
Blackpool are in excellent form – they moved into the playoffs last night, and we will need to be extremely wary of them when we meet them twice in ten days towards the end of April. Embleton was replaced on 78 minutes yesterday by Ethan Robson, who we can be sure will have a point to prove to his former employer before the season is out.
The second of those two matches at home on 27th April will be the game that we currently have in hand over Peterborough, having been cancelled in December due to the Covid-19 outbreak among the squad, and it will come a week after we play top side Hull City. A win that day and promotion will surely be within touching distance.
So the job is far from done, 11 nerve-wracking 90-minute games from done in fact, but automatic promotion to the Championship really is in our own hands now. Sunderland’s form has put the pressure on the teams around us and it’s starting to show.
Watching this game you'd think it was Blackpool sat second and not Posh. Posh are absolutely woeful. All they do is pass it around the back and then give it to Dembele, who does nothing before losing the ball— Gav (@CackStottie) March 23, 2021
Each win will now edge us closer to the prize, regardless of what our rivals for the top-two do. Simply not losing in our games against both Hull and Peterborough will be good enough if we can beat all the sides below us that we’re still to play, including overcoming the Seasiders twice.
Performance levels will dip, as they did for Lee Johnson’s team at the weekend, and points will almost certainly be dropped by all four contenders. We should expect many twists and turns over the next six weeks, and I for one am looking forward to it with (anxiety-edged) confidence – although more results like last night’s will make the run-in a lot more comfortable for us all.