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Blackpool’s 1st team travelled to fellow strugglers Wigan 1st without their 46 year old star striker Dave Morgan, out with illness, but replaced him with a fellow 46 year old Pete Latimer, albeit he plays in defence, for his first outing in the 1st team for 5 years almost to the day, following injury and the onset of middle aged spread.
Due to Wigan’s home pitch being condemned, the match was played on a high school pitch, which not only had a slope to rival Lords cricket ground, it was also covered in a thin layer of mud, which affected some player’s ability to flick the ball into the air, or so some people claimed. However it was the same for both sides as Wigan were also unused to these conditions.
With Wigan playing downhill in the first half, the match got off to the worst start for Blackpool as some lax marking gifted Wigan their first goal. They went 2-0 up five minutes later as their speed of attack and link play caused problems in the Blackpool defence.
Blackpool regrouped and started to assert themselves more in midfield with Simon Thomas as industrious as ever, and linked well with the young wingers Joe Neath and Will Pickles. A long ball was made to Jordan Payne, who ran past the Wigan defence and around the keeper in the D, and found the pass across the goal to Ian Swaine who had sprinted up in support, and just managed to get the vital touch to guide the ball into the goal.
Unfortunately it was Wigan who scored the next and extended their lead to 3-1 and then 4-1 after an initial save from keeper Graeme Kilshaw was parried back towards gaol by a Wigan striker, onto Kilshaw’s body, and he tried to swipe it clear with his gloved hand but instead it bobbled backwards into the goal itself.
Despite being 4-1 down at half-time Blackpool didn’t give in and started attacking more downhill in the second half. They were fortunate when a Wigan goal was disallowed for a marginal back-stick just after the restart. However it wasn’t long before Jordan Payne as the lone striker struck on his own to make it 4-2. Around this point one of the Wigan youngsters was yellow carded for one too many impetuous tackles, and Blackpool made use of the one man advantage, putting pressure on the Wigan defence. A breakdown in the Wigan D, after an initial shot from Payne, led to the ball coming back to Joe Neath on the edge and he calmly lofted the ball over the goalkeeper and perfectly into the goal behind.
At 4-3 down Blackpool felt they were on the ascendant and continued pressing, but were then caught out when all the defence were around the halfway line and a lone Wigan striker was able to outsprint Simon Allen and then coolly finish past Kilshaw in goal. The two goal advantage was reduced once more when Simon Thomas went on a solo dribble in the right hand corner, past several defenders into the D and then shot across goal, and was luckily aided by a Wigan stick deflecting the ball into the goal for a most unusual goal.
With just minutes remaining, Blackpool pushed for another goal, and even defender Ben Mortimer had a chance to score in the D, but it was to no avail and the match ended 5-4 to Wigan.
Next Saturday brings another crucial game against Neston at the foot of Division 1, this time on home turf at Stanley Park.