With several team members nursing injuries (and a spot of food poisoning) Blackpool started slowly and soon found themselves under pressure, with the in-form Morecambe side dominating the early stages of possession. The homes side came inches from scoring as a penalty corner attempt crashed into the post, and keeper Nick Rainbow made a great save to clear the danger. Blackpool always looked dangerous on the counter, with Harris and Morgan threatening whenever in possession. However, the defence couldn’t hold out much longer and Morecambe took the lead through a well worked corner. A quick re-shuffle and the introduction of Dan Woodman, who had spent the opening fifteen minutes nursing his poorly stomach, allowed Blackpool to come back into the game. The equaliser came through Harris in a rather comical fashion as he poked the ball home after a series of attempted clearances and shots turned into a messy goal line scramble. Five minutes later, Blackpool found themselves in the lead as Rob Dingle got the slightest deflection on Dave Morgan’s initial shot to beat the Morecambe keeper.
The home side came out after the break with clear attacking intentions, however this only left larger gaps in the midfield for Blackpool to exploit on the counter. Steve Whitley and Mariano De La Lastra made powerful runs winning a series of corners, which unfortunately came to nothing. Blackpool’s defence remained strong, as Peter Latimer and Rob Abbott kept the prolific Morecambe forwards at bay. The game, and Blackpool’s season hung in the balance, but the crucial goal was to go Blackpool’s way. Blackpool’s penalty corner routine finally paid off as the ball fell loose to Whitely who calmly slapped it past the keeper to give Blackpool a two goal cushion with fifteen minutes left to play. The game was finally put to bed as Whitley doubled his tally in somewhat controversial fashion. Ian Swaine’s initial shot from a penalty corner was charged down by a defender, who only managed to deflect the ball directly towards Whitley’s head. In an act of self-defence and also seizing a rare opportunity, Whitely smashed the ball on the volley into the top corner of the net. After a quick conference between the umpires, they ruled the goal should stand.
With 4 games to go, everything is still all to play for, with four teams all in the promotion hunt. And if Blackpool continue to play like this, they should be right in the mix come the last day of the season.
© Rob Dingle 26/2/12