After an encouraging pre-season it was an up-beat Blackpool side that took to Stanley Park on Saturday afternoon. With the strongest squad Blackpool have assembled for many a year there was a swagger in their collective step as the team ran out. That said with Kieron Morrow the Blackpool Captain unavailable the team formation had to have some minor tinkering, with the younger Morrow moving from his usual right wing position into the centre and Rob Abbott moving up from the defence into the right hand side of midfield.
Perhaps a little over confidence had crept in as Blackpool were immediately put on the back foot by a slick passing Cheetham side. This early pressure was seized upon when a loose pass from Blackpool’s stand-in captain for the day Gettings was intercepted by a Cheetham attacker giving them a three against two which was duly converted. The initial fright of going behind obviously kicked the Blackpool side into shape as they then started to assert themselves on the game.
With some slick passing across the team Blackpool soon started to stretch the Cheetham back line and it was from this that Blackpool won a short corner from which Morgan fired home the equaliser. The Blackpool pressure continued unabated and after a typically direct run from Mortimer, Morgan was again on hand to give Blackpool a well deserved lead.
With half time fast approaching Cheetham were able to build some pressure in Blackpool’s final third of the pitch, with a succession of long corners. From such a corner the ball broke nicely off a Blackpool stick to the Cheetham Captain who drove the ball into the D which was neatly turned in to leave the honours even at the break.
During the break it was decided to switch Morrow and Abbott to sure up the centre of the pitch whilst giving an extra yard of pace out wide. The switch seemed to work immediately as the previously slick passing Cheetham side was stifled of possession. A further tactical change of Gettings dropping from sweeper to sit along side Latimer at the back allowed Woodman and Boniface the Blackpool fullbacks to push up and attack the Cheetham flanks.
At this point a bizarre incident involving Wright taking himself off in a fit of pique threatened to destabilise the Blackpool side, however these men are made of sterner stuff than that and Mortimer duly dropped back to left midfield allowing Edmondson to come on up front. Some slick passing between Woodman, Pasqualino and Abbott put Morrow in behind the Cheetham defence from where he was able to find an unmarked Edmondson who duly obliged to tap the ball in from 2 yards.
From here it looked like there could now only be one winner, however Blackpool always seem most vulnerable after scoring and this was no different, with the first attack from Cheetham re-start ending up in the back of the net after a heroic effort from Blakemore.
Again Blackpool picked themselves up dusted themselves off and duly went on the attack again. No one typified this Blackpool never say die attitude better than Morgan who picking the ball up just on half way ran directly into the heart of the Cheetham defence causing panic from which he was able to complete a hard fought hat-trick.
Cheetham tried to rally one last time but with some resolute defending lead by Latimer at the back Blackpool more than hung on and squeezed the last life out of a by now tired Cheetham side.
Man of the match went to young Morrow, but in truth one of a number of Blackpool players could have taken the accolade.
© Liam Morrow 27/9/04