A JOHN Murphy goal helped Blackpool beat North West rivals Wigan Athletic for the third time this season and move 9 points away from the drop zone.

Blackpools first ever win at the JJB Stadium is impressive when you take into consideration that Wigan were in top form before the game, with high flying Brentford and Brighton amongst their recent conquests.

Blackpools all round commitment and desire was a level above that of the previous Saturday where Pool lost a vital six-pointer to Bury in a lack-lustre performance at Bloomfield Road. It was as if Steve McMahon had put out a brand new team as in a space of week Pool were strong at the back, commanding in midfield and in attack, scored a wonderful goal which could have easily been added to later in the game.

After scoring in last Tuesdays LDV vans win against Huddersfield, John Murphy was on target again for Pool after 11 minutes. A ball down the left put John Hills clear, who cut inside to make room for a shot. Wigan keeper John Filan palmed away only for it come to Bullock, on the right side. Bullock coolly slotted the ball to Taylor who in turn found Murphy in space 8 yards from the goal. Murphy kept his head and slid the ball under the keeper for the opening goal.

The performance from Murphy has sparked new interest in the strikers contract situation. With his contract expiring in summer, Murphy has been in talks about a new contract but so far no deal has been agreed between club and player. But if Murphy continues this new spell of form, Pool may be tempted to up the stakes and make an offer Murphy cannot refuse.

The goal was excellent from Blackpools point of view but what Steve McMahon will be most pleased about is how Pool defended their lead from the goal onwards. Blackpool arguably played the better of the two teams in the rest of the first half and could have easily gone two goals up. The best chance came again to Murphy who came agonisingly wide to grabbing a second after some excellent work by fellow strike partner Scott Taylor.

Not surprisingly Wigan came out after the break playing much better and just edged the second half. But that was so pleasing, Pool dug in and protected their lead to record their first clean sheet since November. Everything the home side through at Blackpool, the Pool defence of Barnes, Coid, Day, Marshall, Jaszczun a 61st minute substitute Ian Hughes defended stoutly and never looked in much danger despite long spells of pressure from Wigan. And the Wigan players frustration showed when they began to lash out at the Blackpool players towards the end, in particular Richie Wellens was given a hard time. The tackles earnt yellow cards but really should have been more than that.

Steve McMahon was understandably delighted with his players after the game. He can now look forward to Saturdays game against Peterborough with anticipation, a win there would give Pool some well-needed breathing space.

Wigan 0-1 Blackpool

Murphy (11)