First league game of the season for Blackpool 2’s, and the usual availability and selection problems. 13 midweek down to 11 on Friday night, but back to 12 on Saturday although still dependent on the 1st team umpire getting from Blackpool to Southport in about an hour. Just about okay on a normal day, but when it’s the annual air show with the Red Arrows and the last ever Vulcan fly past, and there’s queues of 2hrs+ on the normal coast road, it’s far from a certainty.
In the end all was well, the majority of the team arrived via Maghull and avoided traffic problems, and got to spy on the division 1 match between Southport 1’s v Rhyl in Division 1, which Blackpool 1’s have just been promoted to, together with enjoying the sights and sounds of the air show, being at the southern end of the town right beside Birkdale links.
When the game finally started, Blackpool played some impressive hockey and kept possession well, with newcomer Niall Bancroft working tirelessly in midfield, and eventually voted Man of the Match. The first goal was a scrappy affair with Chris Hocking getting the final touch which squirted between the goalkeeper’s legs across the line.
The second goal wasn’t much prettier, but came from a short corner where Alex Diver’s initial shot rebounded from the goalkeeper into Bancroft who tapped it in.
After half-time Southport came out strongly and put Blackpool under some pressure. However the next goal came from another Blackpool short corner, with Diver switching to Matt Atherton, who gave it back for Diver to swing the ball into the goal.
Southport won a series of their own short corners, and it was from one of these that they scored from a switch and a flick which despite goalkeeper Graeme Kilshaw getting his glove onto the ball, it still flew high into the goal net.
Blackpool regathered their composure and went back on the attack. Another short corner led to a goal when Matt Atherton’s shot came off a defender’s foot to Diver to pass back to brother Paul Atherton at the top of the D for a sweet strike home.
Blackpool’s 5th and final goal was made by one of the stand-out wingers Ollie Tomlinson (Sam Robinson being the other one) who dribbled past several defenders leaving Diver for a tap-in for his second goal.
A great start to the season and the 5-1 victory leaves Blackpool top of the table in week 1. It was a lovely touch for the Red Arrows to draw a heart in the sky to commemorate our win, and we do understand their affinity to Lancashire’s best coastal town!