Blackpool Men’s First team began life in North West Division 1 in the best possible way with a 4-2 victory of Didsbury seconds, sending them to the top of the table.
Blackpool welcomed back Ben Mortimer into the fold after completing his university course, but it was another returning face that got the home side under way inside the opening ten minutes. Steve Whitely, who missed the run-in last season after fracturing his thumb in the Lancashire Trophy semi-final, showed no signs of rustiness as his tidy finish from a difficult angle set the tone early in the match.
Both sides looked dangerous on the break, but Blackpool looked by far the more comfortable side in possession throughout the first period. Dec O’Hara came close to nudging home at a penalty corner, and Ian Swaine’s reverse stick effort flew over the crossbar, but despite their dominance Blackpool couldn’t stretch their lead.
As so often happens, Didsbury capitalised on Blackpool’s missed opportunities, scoring an equaliser with a very well taken finish after Blackpool were caught out questioning a decision form the umpire. The visitors nearly turned the game around as again Blackpool failed to react quickly to a quickly taken side-line ball, but fortunately the shot flew harmlessly wide of Nick Rainbow in the Blackpool goal.
After this momentary lapse, Blackpool reaffirmed their dominance by retaking the lead shortly before the interval through all-time club leading scorer Dave Morgan.
Pleased with his sides work in the first half, Captain Rainbow instructed his players to continue to retain the ball as well as they had done, and further chances would come. It wasn’t long before this came true as Morgan bagged his second with a neat finish past the advancing goalkeeper after a pinpoint through ball from Jay Currey.
Currey nearly got on the score sheet himself when a well worked move down the left saw the ball fall to him in the Didsbury area. On the turn he hammered his shot goal-bound, but was well saved by the goalkeeper who was being tested more and more as the half went on.
Blackpool saved their best until last as their fourth saw a sustained period of possession for nearly 5 minutes with well over 60 uninterrupted passes involving every player on the pitch before Simon Thomas, Jordan Payne and Whitley found a way through the resolute Didsbury defence to leave the advancing Josh Boyne the simplest of finishes.
A late consolation goal after a defensive error did little to dampen Blackpool’s mood in a competitive game played in a great spirt by both sides. Rob Abbott’s stellar display at the back earned him Man of the Match, as the divisions new boys prepare for another testing fixture away to Deeside next week.