After the heavy loss to Lancaster University last week, Blackpool Men’s first team returned to winning ways with a comprehensive 9-1 victory away at Southport.
Still some-way off full strength, Blackpool welcomed back several players from their lengthy injury list, and the results were immediate. Blackpool dominated possession with careful build up play through defence and midfield with the ball barely escaping the Southport half. Blackpool opened the scoring after a flowing move tore the Southport defence apart with Swaine, Hocking and Whitley all combining to leave James Slater with the simplest of finishes. The second goal proved more difficult to come by as various opportunities were either thwarted by the Southport keeper, or the shots whistled by the wrong side of the post. Blackpool may have missed their chances in open play, but were deadly from penalty corners. The returning Richard Blacow’s precision drag flick left the keeper wrong-footed to double Blackpool’s lead, and soon after Blacow notched up his second with a flick in the opposite corner that went in off the post. At the third penalty corner, Southport shuffled their defensive line to combat Blacow’s firepower, but were out foxed by Dan Woodman and Ian Swaine as the latter beat the keeper from close range to send Blackpool 4-0 up at half time.
With no substitutes, nagging injuries forced Blackpool to rotate their players around as the second half began, and the fluid movement seen earlier in the game evaporated. Noticing several Blackpool players were struggling Southport attempted to stretch the game and hit Blackpool on the counter-attack. Some good saves from captain Nick Rainbow, and good defensive work from Rob Abbott kept Southport out, whilst Blackpool looked to re-assert their dominance. Slowly it came back, and Blackpool began once again to carve out further chances. Chris Hocking continued his good scoring form as his finish from a tight angle brought up Blackpool’s fifth. A quickly taken free hit allowed Swaine to break away for his second, and a few minutes later he completed the hockey equivalent of a ‘perfect hatrick’ (Open Stick + Reverse Stick + Penalty Corner) as his reverse stick shot smashed into the backboard making it 7 for the visitors. Blackpool conceded a sloppy consolation goal with ten minutes to go, but were determined to make up for it. Swaine was denied his fourth when the umpire had already blown his whistle for a penalty stroke, which Richard Blacow calmly slotted home to complete his hatrick. And there was just enough time for Jacob Currey to grab a ninth for Blackpool as his shot was deflected in at the near post.
A much improved performance and with several players still to return in the coming weeks, Blackpool will need continue this form as they enter a tough stretch of away fixtures.
(c) Rob Dingle 4/11/12