Despite a battling performance, Blackpool Men’s first team left Cheshire with no points, losing 3-1 to Bowdon thirds.
It was all one-way traffic in the opening ten minutes as Blackpool struggled to get to grips with the pace and bounce of the surface, with the home side pushing ahead. Twice inside the opening minutes Blackpool were thankful to their in-form captain Nick Rainbow who made two reflex saves to keep the score level. Slowly Blackpool worked their way into the match with Josh Payne and Simon Thomas the main architects in midfield. Dec O’Hara was back in the side after dislocating his finger last week was given additional rest after being sent to the side lines for a deliberate foot to break down play, but Blackpool held firm until his return. Frustrated at being held, it was Bowdon’s turn to be reduced in numbers as a flurry of bad challenges saw two green cards handed out, and Blackpool suddenly had a two player advantage. As the momentum shifted, Blackpool pushed forward, but Bowdon showed they were just as capable in defence as they were going forward and kept the visitors at bay until they too returned to a full complement of players. In the closing minutes of the half, Steve Whitley’s determination recovered the ball inside his own half leading to a rapid counter down the left. Jordan Payne held the ball up before he picked out Dave Morgan who finished neatly past the oncoming keeper and last defender to give Blackpool the lead.
The second half continued in the same vein as the first with both sides looking dangerous on the break, but failing to carve out any clear opportunities. As the Blackpool legs began to tire in a particularly high-tempo game, the home side began to once again assert themselves. A well worked routine at a penalty corner finally brought Bowdon level, but Blackpool could have quite easily regained the lead if not for a series of wasted penalty corner chances of their own. Ian Swaine’s careless challenge saw him sent to the side lines, only for the punishment to be extended for dissent. With Blackpool facing the remainder of the match with ten men, Bowdon re-shaped their line up and pressurised the Blackpool defence. A delicate through ball found a Bowdon player in space in the area, but O’Hara’s challenge brought play to a halt for a foul. Blackpool were astonished to see a penalty flick awarded, with the umpire determining the player was in the process of making his shot. Despite the protests, the decision stood and Rainbow was left facing the flick. He guessed the right way, but the pace of the ball just beat his outstretched stick to give Bowdon the lead.
With fifteen minutes remaining, Blackpool pressed the gamble button and threw men forward. However it wasn’t to be there day with several promising opportunities squandered with the lack of accuracy on the final ball. In the dying minutes, Bowdon wrapped things up with a decisive third to end any chance of a late Blackpool comeback. An excellent game that some of the Blackpool players believe may have been swung with one key decision, but hats off to the umpire for taking the time after the match to explain his decision. Blackpool remain 6th in the table with 4 games remaining.