With Blackpool on fire, scoring goals for fun, and an ailing Southport side not having won for 20+ games, there may have been a bit of complatency before the start of the match at Stanley Park.
Southport battled hard at the start and Blackpool struggled to get their rhythm, with mis-passes, and some general lethargy.
The marking was also suspect, leaving a clear one on one for a Southport breakaway which keeper Nick Rainbow dealt with skillfully. There was also a succession of short corners for Southport which could have been dangerous.
Calm was resored when Blackpool took advantage of the short corners they won, firstly from Ian Swaine and then from dave Morgan.
Blackpool now started exerting their dominance, with skillful midfield play by Kieran Harris and Dan Woodman. A third goal was scored by Swaine going on a mazy run, taking an initial shot which was saved, only to score from the rebound.
There was a brief interruption when a small terrier wandered on to the pitch from seemingly nowhere, and no owner around to claim it, but the umpire took control by picking it up and pushing it back through a small hole in the wire fencing.
Nowhere near as bad as the delay a couple of minutes into the second half. Kieran Harris flicked a ball within the D, not noticing that a defender was just in front of him. The ball smacked him directly in the face, and he fell down, and there were calls for a first aid kit, then a call for an ambulance. 15mins later, the paramedics arrived driving the ambulance all over the new astroturf and parking in front of the goals. The poor Southport defender, with a suspected fractured cheekbone, was loaded in, and one of his fellow players joined him.
As Southport had no subs, they were left with just 9 players to withstand the Blackpool team, who were already frustrated that they’d only scored 3 in the first half.
As it happens Blackpool scored 5 in the second half, although it should probably have been double. Swaine scored his hat-trick, Simon Thomas got in on the act with a neat flick over the advancing keeper. Swaine got another when the last defender fluffed his hit out, Morgan scored another from a short corner, and Swaine scored once more from open play.
Credit to Southport who kept on battling, and several players were limping around the pitch by the end. Blackpool then celebrated going top of the league when checking the other scores from the division. Only 3 games gone, and much tougher teams still to face, but a very promising start to the campaign.
© Peter Latimer
PS Blackpool do wish the Southport player well, and would like to reassure other teams in Div 4 that 2 hospitalised opposition players in 2 weeks is entirely coincidental!
PPS The BHC Disputed Goal Panel has met and decided that the 4th goal that Ian Swaine scored should actually be awarded to Dave Morgan, as the shot was going in despite Ian’s minor deflection a foot away from the goal-mouth. So congratulations to Dave who now has to buy a jug for his hat-trick! And the difference in the league goals reduces to 2 between these two competitive strikers.