Blackpool Men’s firsts picked up a much needed first win of 2017 against already relegated Southport and in doing so secured their place in Division 1 next season.
For the first time in weeks, Blackpool’s availability allowed them to field substitutes and with extra resource at his disposal, Nick Rainbow reverted to tactics not seen since before the Christmas break.
The home side dominated from the off, pushing the visitors back into their own 25 for the majority of the opening ten minutes.
Sam Bury enjoying playing in a more advanced role linked up well with Jordan Payne, and with Steve Whitley and Dave Morgan looking sharp, Blackpool were only denied going ahead by some fine saves from the Southport goalkeeper.
After ten minutes of constant Blackpool pressure Whitley finally broke the deadlock after a neat finish from a tidy passing move. In contrast to the opening goal created from solid passing, the second was Blackpool at their lethal best on the counter. A rare Southport foray into the Blackpool exposed the gaps in the visitors defence once Dec O’Hara stole possession at the top of his area. After beating a series of players with some silky tricks, O’Hara picked up the pace and tore through the Southport side. His layoff to Sam Bury was timed perfectly, and Bury chose the unselfish option to play in Morgan at the back post which was put away to give Blackpool a 2-0 lead. After providing the earlier assist, Bury found his name on the scoresheet with a well taken individual effort, weaving through the Southport defence and, despite losing his footing, managed to fire his shot away past the keeper to put Blackpool three ahead at half time.
In his last home game for potentially the next two years (due to his new Egyptian employment!), Whitley had a second half to remember as he helped himself to a second half hat trick, giving him four for the match. The first after the break might have been slightly fortunate as his effort took a kind looping deflection over the goalkeeper and into the net, however his second two both showed his coolness under pressure as he beat the goalkeeper from close range to round off Blackpool’s 6-0 win. Despite Whitley’s tally, O’Hara was named man of the match for his sublime display at the back which helped to limit the visitors to just two shots over the 70 minutes.
Blackpool’s last game of the season sees them travel to Lymm, as they aim to leapfrog Wigan to finish a respectable 7th in the division.