Southport Men’s 1sts 0 – 2 Blackpool Men’s 1sts

A severely understrength Blackpool Men’s firsts recorded a remarkable 2-0 win away to Southport in their rearranged league game that was abandoned due to the weather a fortnight ago.

With eight regular first team players unavailable, and the entire second team also engaged (shops must have been busy this weekend!), David Wright returned to the line-up for the first time this season, along with debutant Keiffer Earnshaw, forcing captain Nick Rainbow into a number of tactical changes.

Southport, fresh off a fantastic win against high flying Bowdon the day before boasted a full substitutes bench, whilst the visitors shuffled their eleven men into a tight half-court press, inviting Southport to play out from the back. Earnshaw led the line excellently, covering plenty of ground and was well supported by Steve Whitley and Simon Thomas playing behind him, managing to keep Southport chances to a bare minimum in the opening exchanges. It was Blackpool who despite their reduced possession looked the most threatening on the counter. Jay Currey and Jordan Payne used their pace well down the flanks to cause problems for the high Southport defensive line, but despite a couple of penalty corners, Blackpool failed to find an opening. Earnshaw came closest after he picked up on a loose ball and charged down field. His shot from the top right of the area beat the goalkeeper, but not the post as he was denied a maiden goal.

After twenty minutes, Southport finally began to carve a way through the tight Blackpool rear guard. However they too failed to put away any of their penalty corners, and by half time, much to the credit of the defensive resilience, Rainbow hadn’t made a save in the Blackpool goal.

With a change of ends, and the setting sun now glaring in the Blackpool faces, the task was expected to become much harder, with Southport pushing players higher in an attempt to get in behind Blackpool’s press. But the outcome was no different as the visitors continued to frustrate Southport and still remained a threat going forward. Another flurry of penalty corners for Blackpool saw them come within a whisker as Whitley’s deflected effort from Payne’s ball was somehow cleared off the goal line. Dan Woodman also came close, but his effort was deflected off target by a Southport stick. Blackpool continued to press, and after some link up play down the left between Whitely and Payne, Earnshaw was on hand for a simple tap-in for a goal the young forward will remember for a long time. With fifteen minutes to go, Southport made a number of changes in search of an equaliser, but Rob Abbott and Rob Dingle stood firm at the back, with Sam Bury putting in an impressive display against the pacey Southport right winger.

Jordan Payne is making a name for himself with extravagant finishes, and Blackpool’s second was another one of his trademark goals. Simon Thomas weaved his way through the Southport defence, before combining with Whitley and Currey for the ball to loop up towards Payne. Stepping in front of his man, his reverse stick volley beat the goalkeeper to double Blackpool’s lead with less than ten minutes to play.

Rainbow was finally required as his kicked clearance set up another counter, but he remained untested in a game where Blackpool could be very pleased with their efforts with very limited resources.

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