Championship Analysis – More joy for Ince family as Tom sends Blackpool top

Blackpool continued their highly impressive start to the season as Tom Ince struck a late winner against Watford to send the Tangerines top of the Championship going into the international break.

His father and manager, Paul Ince, has bemoaned his side’s injury crisis from day one of the season, with only 14 professional players fit and several of those playing out of position, but secretly the former Manchester United and England midfielder will be delighted with the campaign so far, particularly the resilience of his depleted squad. Blackpool have now struck at least one goal in the last 15 minutes of every game; all but two of those six have proved decisive in ensuring victory – as was the case on Saturday.

For the time being, of course, he is very much grounded and admitted his side were fortunate against Gianfranco Zola’s Hornets, who were denied from the penalty spot and struck the post twice, saying post-match: “If it had been a boxing match it would have been all over at half-time. Watford were outstanding in the first half and if they had scored the penalty [saved by Matt Gilkes from Troy Deeney] it would have been a different game.

In normal circumstances Ince senior would probably be cursing next weekend’s absence of domestic fixtures, with momentum being momentarily halted, but now that breathing space is available for some of his absentees to potentially work their way back to fitness, the boss will take it. Nevertheless, there may yet be movement before then with the obligatory fast-and-furious activity in the transfer market to take place before the window’s imminent closure.

The Bloomfield Road faithful will be hoping Ince junior isn’t on the departures list, and from that point of view his wonder goal on Saturday – a mazy dribble culminating in a fierce left-foot drive – couldn’t have come at a more ominous time. Tom Ince has continually been linked with Premier League clubs over the past 18 months and was very close to leaving in early July when Blackpool accepted a bid of around £8m from Cardiff City, only to decide to stay having just become a father.

Matt Phillips is one player who has departed the club within the last week, joining QPR, who are neck and neck with Blackpool but second courtesy of an inferior goal difference. Harry Redknapp’s team dug out three points at Leeds. The top two are now the only unbeaten clubs in the division after Nottingham Forest were defeated for the first time this season at Wigan. Forest slipped down to fourth behind Burnley as a result of their fierce rivals Derby being thumped 3-0 by the Clarets, whose goal tally became superior.

One team that epitomises the Iain Dowie-invented term “bouncebackability” is Bournemouth, who, after their two previous severe beatings away from home, this time kept a clean sheet on the road and ground out a 1-0 win at Doncaster. Eddie Howe’s team currently sit in the final play-off spot despite a shocking goal difference of -6. It’s early days but the Championship is a notoriously tight division and if Bournemouth stay in and around the top six a big turnaround is needed if points are shared.

Indeed, only Barnsley in 20th and rock-bottom Bolton fare worse in the goal difference department. The much-fancied Trotters are one of three teams yet to win, the others being Sheffield Wednesday, who were held by Middlesbrough, and Millwall, who were agonisingly denied in the dying seconds at Brighton.

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