KYLE Vassell bagged a brace against his former side as Oxford United slumped to defeat at Bloomfield Road.

The striker classily opened the scoring as Blackpool ran riot early on against a woefully off-colour U’s.

Callum Cooke added to a lead which in truth should have been more than just 2-0 on the balance of play.

But United survived and a change of formation in the second half led to a more even game.

James Henry’s 89th-minute effort gave the large travelling contingent hope of salvaging an improbable point, but the hope was short-lived as Vassell smacked a free-kick in off the post in stoppage-time.

United were unchanged from their entertaining 2-2 draw with Bradford City in midweek, but that is where the similarities ended.

From the moment in the opening minute Ricardinho allowed a simple pass to roll under his boot and out for a throw, the visitors were second best.

Blackpool, who had won their previous six games at home, were pushing against an open door and will have been incredibly disappointed they did not put the result beyond doubt in the opening half-hour.

Vassell put them ahead in the sixth minute, outmuscling Curtis Nelson for a high ball over the top before producing a stunning 20-yard finish, which flew in off the base of the far post.

The hosts were sharper and looked like scoring every time they came forward.

Viv Solomon-Otabor’s pace caused problems down United’s right and he began a move which presented a chance for Sean Longstaff.

Although his one-on-one chance was smothered by Simon Eastwood, Blackpool doubled their lead from the resulting corner.

The set piece was played short and although United forced the ball back to the halfway line, Cooke was found in a pocket of space and from 25 yards out the midfielder took aim with a shot which found the bottom right corner of Eastwood’s net.

It all came in front of the massed travelling support, many of whom had come for a weekend by the seaside.

They watched aghast as chances continued to flow.

Another Solomon-Otabor surge won a corner, where Curtis Tilt should have done better than blast over from eight yards.

United’s frazzled minds were shown on 21 minutes, when a mix-up between James Henry and Nelson gifted the ball to Vassell. The striker ran forward and let rip with a low shot which the overworked Eastwood shovelled for another corner.

Again a Blackpool player was first to the ball, with Tilt again off target.

It took the visitors fully half an hour to threaten, when Rob Hall’s cross won a corner. But even that turned into a Blackpool chance, as Vassell’s quick break was ended by Ricardnho’s obstruction, which saw the full back booked.

Boss Pep Clotet turned to his bench 11 minutes before the break, replacing Wes Thomas with Gino van Kessel.

Although United steadied the ship a little towards the end of the half, Blackpool still looked far more dangerous.

Eastwood saved from Cooke, while only a couple of blocks from Mike Williamson kept out Solomon-Otabor on the break.

The visitors switched to a 3-5-2 for the second half, which saw them match Blackpool’s five-man midfield which had been so dominant.

They immediately looked more comfortable and began to win some 50/50 challenges, lifting the spirits of the away fans.

Ryan Ledson finally called Ryan Allsop into action, with a low shot from the edge of the box seven minutes after the restart.

The Tangerines goalkeeper was involved in a flashpoint just after the hour, when he slid out to collect a through pass.

It did not appear that James Henry had made contact, but the goalkeeper rolled around, to the anger of United’s players and supporters.

After a lengthy discussion, referee Darren Handley opted for a drop ball in the Blackpool box, which the home side scrambled clear.

United knew as poor as they had been, if the next goal came their way it would give them a chance of salvaging something from the game.

But while they were seeing much less of the ball, Blackpool were still creating the clearer openings.

Eastwood spectacularly tipped over Cooke’s volley, while Vassell continued to cause his former side problems.

The striker saw one free header fly wide, while only a last-ditch effort from Nelson denied him a second goal after he ran at the U’s skipper and Williamson.

United were rapidly running out of time, but pulled a goal back with a minute of normal time remaining.

Hall let fly from outside of the box which Allsop parried to Henry, who made no mistake.

With five minutes added on for stoppage-time, there was hope of an equaliser.

But it was quickly snuffed out, as Vassell won a cheap free-kick on the edge of the box, which he thumped in off the far post to confirm a deserved victory.

Blackpool (4-5-1): Allsop, Turton, Tilt, Robertson, Daniel, Mellor, Ryan, Longstaff (D’Almeida 90), Cooke, Solomon-Otabor (Delfouneso 69), Vassell (Quigley 90+4).

Unused subs: Williams, Taylor, Aimson, Clayton.

Booked: Tilt, Ryan.

Oxford Utd (4-4-1-1): Eastwood, Mousinho, Nelson, Williamson, Ricardinho, Hall, Ledson (Mowatt 58), Rothwell, Henry, Payne, Thomas (Van Kessel 34).

Unused subs: Shearer, Martin, Carroll, Xemi, Ruffels.

Booked: Ricardinho, Ledson, Van Kessel.

Referee: Darren Handley (Lancashire).