Blackpool have taken the promotion race in North West division 3 right down to the wire with a brilliant 3-0 victory over Keswick at Stanley Park. With both teams chasing the elusive promotion spot, it was all to play for, especially after the runaway victory for Keswick in the earlier fixture between the sides. Keswick got the better of the earlier exchanges and were quicker to the ball than their hosts for the opening ten minutes. However, Blackpool’s defence held strong and coupled with some excellent saves from Nick Rainbow, including one with his face mask, they kept the Keswick forwards at bay. The game began to even itself out with Blackpool playing on the counter, and soon cracks began to appear in the Keswick defence. Dave Morgan was first to a loose ball, only to be taken out illegally by the goalkeeper. Up stepped Kieran Harris who calmly flicked the ball in off the left post, and giving the goalkeeper no chance to make amends for his earlier foul. The game raced along a serious pace as both sides were giving it there all in their last chance for glory of the season, but the half time whistle blew with the score remaining 1-0 to Blackpool.
With Dan Woodman’s injured calf finally proving too much, Blackpool faced the second half with a bare eleven against a very fit Keswick side. With both teams tiring, turnovers in possession were becoming more frequent, and it was simply a case of which side seized the opportunity first. Steve Whitley’s mazy run saw him beat several defenders and helped earn Blackpool a penalty corner. Harris grabbed his second of the game with a drag flick in the top right of the goal, much to the delight of the Blackpool crowd. Keswick, seeing their promotions dreams fading away, threw caution to the wind, but this only allowed Blackpool more chances to finally kill off the game. Nathan Woodman showed good composure on the ball and after he picked out James Slater, he received the ball back, and tapped home from a few yards to seal the win.
With Lymm picking up 3 points as well, the situation for Blackpool is simple; win next week, and if Lymm don’t in their tricky fixture away to South Lakes, Blackpool will sneak second, and more importantly, promotion to Division 2.
(c) Rob Dingle 18/3/12