A young Blackpool side started the season brightly away at Keswick, but ultimately went down 3-2 to the more experienced Cumbrian side.
The visitors looked the more hungry from the off, with Ollie Tomlinson and James Smith dominating the midfield, and Luke Halstead looking dangerous up front. The early possession allowed Blackpool to take the lead after a through ball from Will Donegani created space for Halstead who beat the keeper one-on-one with a cool finish.
Keswick tried to counterattack but couldn’t find a way through Blackpool’s impressive midfield and defence. Blackpool looked dangerous on the counter, and late in the first half a run from left back Brent Whiteside found Halstead, who this time failed to beat the goalkeeper. However, the rebound came back to Whiteside who squared to Kieran Armstrong who slotted the ball into the bottom right of Keswick’s goal to send Blackpool into half time with a comfortable advantage.
However, from the opening moments of the second half, it became apparent that fitness may let the inexperienced Blackpool side down, and tired mistakes began to creep into the game. After one error too many, the Blackpool defence cost Steven Pope his clean sheet in goal, after Keswick converted a penalty corner. Keswick, sensing a comeback was on the cards, threw all they had at Blackpool and forced a series of penalty corners. After solidly defending the first three, a stunning drag flick into the top corner left Pope with no chance. An extremely impressive finish for Division 6 seemed to knock Blackpool’s confidence and heads began to drop at losing a two goal lead. Sam Robinson pushed forward into midfield to try and inject some pace back into the young side. This tactic left Blackpool outnumbered at the back when Keswick counterattacked and after a quick shift of the ball from right wing into the centre allowed the forward to push the ball into the Blackpool net to seal the win for the home side.
Blackpool will count themselves unlucky not to have earned a point, but there were plenty of encouraging performances to give James Smith and his young side high hopes for the season.