After a pair of comfortable wins Blackpool travelled to Ulverston to take on South Lakes for the first time in over 3 seasons. In fact you have to go all the way back to December 2006 to find Blackpool’s one and only win over their Cumbrian rivals. On that day, former South Lakes player Dave Morgan was one of four scorers, and this season’s joint top scorer was looking to pick up another win over his former club. However, despite once playing for them, he openly admitted he needed his sat nav to find his way there as we piled into the cars at the club.
There were a few murmurings about the meet time to say the least; 11.00 for a push back at 2?! Captain Rainbow explained he’d looked at the forecast and thought it wise to add 20 minutes onto the journey time for the impending rain. In unison, the team looked up to heavens to see a bright blue, cloudless, sky. Well at least we weren’t going to be late. Plus it gave Swaine and Dingle a chance to snap up a cheeky Burger King on the way. Nothing like a good pre-match meal!
Despite the pit stop, and Swainey driving extra slowly to allow Rainbow to finish singing along to yet another 90’s boy band, we still arrived with an hour to spare. After a lengthy warm up and establishing Whitely and Rob were sporting matching haircuts and Mariano cared more for his new stick than the well being of his team mates (and their children), we finally got on the pitch to warm up. ‘Mazza’, as he’s apparently now known, sought clarification to what exactly “back chat” was. After all other players wearing tangerine tried to explain using their own unique versions of sign language, we think he got the point…
From the opening whistle, Blackpool launched their first attack. Within a minute, Blackpool won a free hit near the edge of the South Lakes D. After a surging run from the back, Peter Latimer flew up to find space, only to be sent crashing to the ground just after he received the ball. Not wanting to risk further injury, Pete subbed himself off and sat out for the remainder of the half. In stepped Ben Mortimer, who had plenty to deal with in defence as South Lakes edged the first 10 minutes.
However the defence stood firm and a long reverse stick pass from Mariano launched a counter attack through Morgan who found Swaine at the top of the D. After drawing the keeper out, he beat him with a low shot to put the visitors ahead. Swaine doubled the lead five minutes later after converting a penalty corner won by Steve Whitley’s quick thinking.
Despite the two goal advantage, Blackpool spent the majority of the next 10 minutes on the back foot. The South Lakes midfield continued to cause problems for the Blackpool defence and on more than one occasion were reliant on the cool head of Rob Abbott to keep the hosts from clawing back into the game. It also became apparent that Mazza hadn’t understood the definition of ‘back chat’ as he received his marching orders for querying a decision one too many times. However, Blackpool always looked dangerous on the break, and the in-form Swaine (must have been the Burger King) won another penalty corner. Morgan used his local knowledge to draw the opposition defenders out before squaring it to Swaine who completed his hatrick just before the half hour mark.
The final five minutes of the half were… well… nothing short of filthy. Both sides put in some shocking challenges and with the patience of both umpires being tested, a few green cards were brandished to keep the game in check. Rainbow re-emphasised to his troops the need to keep quiet and get on with the game. However the short break did nothing to take the heat out of this hard fought game.
With tempers flaring on both sides and numerous players on green cards, Blackpool reverted to possession hockey in an attempt to take the sting out of the game. Dan Woodman and Mike Thom battled hard in the midfield to keep the skilful South Lakes players at bay. However a lapse in concentration allowed the South Lakes forward to get one on one with keeper Rainbow and his tidy finish put them back into the game. Things went from bad to worse as Rob Abbott took a nasty blow to the mouth which forced him off the field. Not the best two weeks for Rob, a bust nose and a chipped tooth… oh the joys of being a centre back. [http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1144206575&ref=ts#!/photo.php?fbid=2503896393784&set=a.1309842743189.47582.1144206575&type=1&theater]
Not to be deterred, Blackpool bounced back quickly and after the returning Latimer swooped on a loose ball, he played in Morgan who again found Swaine unmarked. This time the keeper didn’t want to test his luck against the inform striker and tried to close him down, however only managing to foul Swaine and conceding a penalty stroke. Up stepped De la Lastra, whose flick didn’t really test the keeper, and that’s being kind. Let be honest, it barely got there!
But before South Lakes could rally, Swaine put the game beyond them with his fourth. Whitley won the ball in midfield before feeding the potent Morgan-Swaine combination which after a series of passes ended with Swaine beating the keeper in the bottom corner.
At that point a series of yellow cards for South Lakes players allowed for some more expansive hockey from Blackpool. De le Lastra spotted a cross field ball to Morgan who, en route to his 5th assist of the day, passed it on to James Slater who notched up his third goal of the campaign. Blackpool’s final goal came from a penalty corner as a well worked set piece with Swaine turning provider, allowed Whitley to get onto the score sheet and round off a 6-1 victory.
Whilst devouring his post-match sausages (all 8 of them!) Mariano tried every excuse possible for his pathetic flick. “It’s my new stick”, “It got stuck in the ground”, “I wasn’t expecting to take it”, “I’m Spanish.” None were acceptable. He also tried to use some dodgy Spanish maths to avoid paying his £5 fine for yellow card. Unfortunately for Mazza, £3 +£5 still = £8 over here.
The extremely hospitable South Lakes lads chose Blackpool Captain and goalie, Nick Rainbow as Man of the Match, much to the disapproval of his team mates. So in a selfless act, ‘Bow, re-nominated Ben Mortimer as MVP for his excellent work at the back in only his second first XI match.
So with 4 wins from 4, and a healthy goal difference of +20, Blackpool look forward to welcoming Urmston to Stanley Park next week. After a cruel set of fixtures against 4 of the top 5 teams in the league, Blackpool will take nothing for granted as they go in search of pole position in the division.
© Rob Dingle 18/10/11