Blackpool Men’s first team overcame Northern Men’s fists 3-1 in a scrappy affair at Stanley Park.
With the weather at its best for weeks, neither side had any excuses for the stop-start play with countless loose passes and lack of discipline shown in the first half. Blackpool dominated the first fifteen minutes with goalkeeper Nick Rainbow a mere spectator as play was condensed into the Northern half. Despite this, Blackpool failed to test the Northern goalkeeper as the lack of fluency in the passing was causing as much of a hindrance as the Northern defence. Sam Robinson and Simon Thomas looked the most likely to threaten as they worked their way in from their respective flanks, but after fifteen minutes of frustrating hockey, the visitors began to come back into the game. Rainbow finally came into the game as his low save from a drag flick at a penalty corner maintained the deadlock, and he was in action soon again with a reflex save as two Northern strikers loomed. With the foul count rising, the umpires’ patience was finally broken as Ben Mortimer was sent to the side lines for his challenge in the middle of the park. In fairness to Ben, his card was probably the result of the combination of the previous challenges put in by a number of players.
When Mortimer returned, Blackpool regrouped and finally found a breakthrough as Steve Whitley was on hand to nudge the ball home after Dave Morgan’s initial shot and rebound were both well saved by the goalkeeper. Five minutes later and Blackpool were denied a second as Rob Dingle’s first time shot crashed into the post after Robinson has worked his way round the Northern defence.
The second half saw more of the same as Blackpool failed to make the most of their opportunities. The cards continued to outweigh the goals as Whitley and Mortimer again were sent to the bench, whilst Northern picked up a couple of cards of their own. After 50 minutes, Blackpool eventually doubled their lead as Jordan Payne swept home to continue his good goal scoring form. With twenty minutes remaining, this was Blackpool’s opportunity to push ahead and coast home. Instead, they continued to fluff their lines allowing Northern back into the game with a break-away counter after home side gave away possession in a promising position. Blackpool’s blushes were spared when Whitley was first to react to a loose ball in the area, sweeping it aerially past the floored goalkeeper to restore Blackpool’s two go advantage into the closing stages.
Mortimer was awarded man of the match for his mature performance in a more advanced midfield role, but Blackpool will be thankful they came away with the points after a fairly mediocre performance against a determined Northern outfit.