Last updated : 18 February 2003 By

Blackpool continued their recent good form when a hat-trick from the Seasiders’ John Murphy won the crucial play-off six-pointer against Luton town at Kenilworth Road on Tuesday evening.

Steve McMahon’s side started brightly and took the lead when Murphy netted from close range following a good through ball from the impressive Martin Bullock.

Joe Kinnear’s team, with ten points from the last four league games, edged back into the contest three minutes after half time when following a good run and cross by Dean Crowe, Tony Thorpe with a great piece of control, turned and struck an equaliser past visiting keeper, Phil Barnes.

But any hopes the Bedfordshire side had of winning their third consecutive home game, after recent successes against Cardiff City and Wycombe Wanderers, evaporated four minutes later when Murphy notched his second of the evening. Again Bullock was the provider, whipping in a neat ball that Blackpool’s leading goal scorer made no mistake with, planting a firm header past Mark Ovendale in the home goal.

The prolific Murphy then sealed the points for the Tangerines with his and Blackpool’s third goal 16 minutes from time. The effervescent Bullock again made a telling run at the heart of the Luton defence before laying the ball off to the returning Scott Taylor, who rounded Ovendale before squaring to Murphy to leave the prolific marksmen with no more than a simple tap in to complete his treble.

In-form Blackpool move up two places into seventh place in the table, replacing the beaten Hatters, as they stretched their unbeaten league run to ten games.

Meanwhile in an extraordinary game at Vale Park, Port Vale overcame Chesterfield 5-2, following a four goal blitz in the game’s opening 18 minutes.

The lowly Valiants, beaten in six of their previous nine games, took the lead inside two minutes, with a wonderful effort from Steve McPhee and never looked back against a strangely lack lustre Chesterfield. Mark Boyd, who scored in the defeat against Luton Town at the weekend, doubled the home side’s advantage in the tenth minute after the visitors’ keeper Ben Williams, on loan from Manchester United, could only parry a fierce shot from Steve Brooker.

The Vale supporters in a crowd of 3, 039 were still celebrating the unexpected 2-0 lead, when their favourites notched a third. McPhee found Ian Armstrong, who cut inside his marker, before unleashing a great right foot shot that flew past Williams in the Spireites goal. Four minutes later and the game was as good as over as Brooker ran through an unmanned defence and coolly placed the ball past the hapless Williams.

The shell shocked Derbyshire outfit did try to respond and managed to pull a goal back through Rob Edwards just after the half hour, and Marcus Ebdon reduced the deficit still further on the stroke of half time, to complete an amazing first period.

After the interval, Brian Horton’s side made the game completely safe in the 66th minute, as Boyd scored his second goal of an incredible evening.

The Potteries’ outfit move onto 34 points and up into 15th place, whilst Dave Rushbury’s defeated Chesterfield drop to 14th, courtesy of the point out of form Brentford gained in a goalless draw at play-off chasing Bristol City at Ashton Gate.

Bristol City had the better of the chances in a game which saw both defences predominately on top, and Bees keeper Paul Smith had to be alert to save from on loan Birmingham striker, Craig Fagan and substitute Christian Roberts.

Scott Murray also struck a post, and the Robins pressed the West London side back in the latter stages of the match as they tried to break down a resolute visitors’ defence. But it was to no avail, and Brentford continue to be the Robins’ bogey side. The men from Griffin Park have now not lost to Danny Wilson’s outfit in their last eight league encounters, whilst both clubs have not managed a single league win between them so far in 2003. (A full report on this game can be found elsewhere on this website).