Blackpool Men’s firsts came close to achieving the impossible on Saturday, and coming away with an astonishing 6 Points from their 4-1 win away at Formby.
With the M6 suffering from heavy congestion, the Blackpool motorcade was forced to separate on route to North Merseyside, with each driver opting for alternative routes. Whilst Dutsy bounced his way across fields to the bewilderment of on-looking sheep, Ian Swaine’s flash new BWM was in for a much rougher time. With a flash of blue, the bewildered striker was forced to pull over for ‘erratic driving’ and explain why he was negotiating the roads so poorly to a stern police officer. Using all of his charm, that seems to elude him on the pitch when questioned by umpires, Swaine managed to sweet-talk the officer into letting him go, and narrowly avoided 3 points before even arriving at the pitch.
The game began within the allotted fifteen minute delay window, and much to Blackpool’s surprise they showed no rustiness from their prolonged journey. Swaine, in an unfamiliar berth in midfield to replacing the absent Simon Thomas, was still retelling the story of his run in with the law after the opening whistle. A savvy observer (Steve Whitley) noted it was a shame he couldn’t switch into ‘Sport Mode’ whilst playing, despite being so keen to show it off to Josh Boyne earlier.
Back to the hockey, and Blackpool dominated the opening exchanges, with all the play entrenched in the Formby half. Some slick passing between Boyne and Dave Morgan were exposing gaps behind the home sides defence, but the killer final ball was proving elusive. Blackpool had to rely on help from the post to finally break the deadlock, as Morgan’s delicate effort wobbled towards goal, only to rebound back off the post into the path of the on-coming Josh Payne who tapped in for the easiest finish he will have all year. Blackpool doubled their lead after Whitley dispossessed a Formby midfielder (despite complaints of a stick tackle), and lifted the ball over the stick of the last man into the path of Morgan. The in-form striker beat the keeper through his legs to give the visitors a bit of breathing space.
Formby refused to lie down and upped their tempo in search of a way back into the match. Their pressure paid off seconds before the half time whistle after a mix-up down Blackpool’s left allowed Formby a three-on-two advantage. The Formby striker decided to go it alone, and caught Nick Rainbow by surprise as his shot riffled into the top corner to give the visitors a glimmer at half time.
Blackpool responded immediately after the break. Rob Dingle won a penalty corner for the visitors, which Whitley and Morgan again combined for the latter to notch his second of the match. Jay Currey recalled to the firsts after a week where Strictly Come Dancing had been his priority, had a golden chance to put the game to bed, but his shot was well saved by the impressive Formby goalkeeper who on several occasions had kept his side in the contest.
The game was finally put to bed when Morgan completed his third successive hat trick, after once again picking his spot between the keepers legs after being fed in from the superb Josh Payne who claimed Man of the Match. Morgan went for his fourth, but could have laid Boyne in for an easier chance, leaving the young pup still waiting for his maiden first team goal. In fairness to Morgan, he may have mistook Boyne’s shouting for one of the female spectators; probably the same reason he failed to get into Scrooges last weekend!
Formby to their credit refused to let up, and after a number of short corners, forced an athletic stick-save from Rainbow at his right post. There was just enough time for Currey to get on the score sheet, but his wind milling failed to result in the goal he craved, much to the amusement of his team mates.
With results going Blackpool’s way elsewhere in the division, they now have a 3 point gap at the top of North West Division Two as we approach the half-way point in the season.