Blackpool Men’s first team weren’t sure what was more welcome on Saturday; the return of hockey to Stanley Park, or finally a day where we could see some blue sky. In hindsight, probably the latter as top of the table Deeside Ramblers seconds put eight past a Blackpool defence still needing to burn off the last pigs in blankets from the Christmas break!
Blackpool knew they were in for a tough game when after clumsily giving away possession in the opening seconds, they remained penned into their own half for the first five minutes. However the home side, cheered on by a vocal crowd began to find their feet in 2016. Blackpool took the lead against the run of play as Ian Swaine’s effort found the backboard after a good counter attack down the left hand side. Shocked to go behind, Deeside’s dominance disappeared as they seemed lost for the next ten minutes as Blackpool continued to soak up pressure and hit them on the break. Nathan Woodman and Swaine combined again as the home side came close to a second, and Dave Morgan playing in a slightly deeper role than usual threatened in front of the visitors back line. The second goal eventually came as Jay Currey found himself in the right place at the right time as he was left with only the keeper to beat. His early shot took the keeper by surprise who managed to get a good hand to it, but was unable to prevent the ball trickling over the line for a two goal lead to Blackpool.
Blackpool’s counter attacking mentality carried with it the risk of soaking up pressure, and eventually this told as Deeside pulled one back through a penalty corner. With five minutes remaining in the half, Blackpool pressed forward again. A quickly taken free hit by Nathan Woodman played Swaine in over the top. After considering the volley, Swaine allowed the ball to bounce and swung goal bound. The unfortunate Deeside keeper again managed to make contact with the ball, but as luck would have it, only deflected the ball back towards goal to restore Blackpool’s two goal lead.
Deeside were reduced to ten men when a substitute was yellow carded for dissent, however it only inspired the visitors as they scored with the final touch before half time to reduce the deficit to just one goal.
And from that point on, Blackpool began to regret not starting Dry January a bit sooner!
Deeside rushed out of the blocks in the second half and within ten minutes had scored three times to gain the lead for the first time in the match. Blackpool’s counter attacking style ran out of steam as legs began to tire, and despite a Simon Thomas consolation goal, Nick Rainbow’s backboard was peppered six times in the second period, as the league leaders ran out comfortable winners.
Blackpool will take heart from their performance in the first half, and will be working hard this week to get their fitness back to pre-Christmas levels.