We saw the best out of one, and the worst from the other …
Blackpool possess the division’s current top scorer in Dave Morgan, who despite being the oldest player in the team [he’ll like me mentioning that as he only beats me by a few months] is in prime form and still on of the liveliest players on the pitch. The visitors Winnington Park possess the 2nd best scorer in Mike Dodd, who is a young and skilful player but with a rather different attitude to Dave. This match highlighted the differences in the two players.
Blackpool absorbed early pressure from Winnington Park and then had an early penalty strike awarded to them when a shot on goal was deemed to have been illegally blocked on the line by a defender. Winnington weren’t happy but the umpires conferred and Winnington’s umpire stuck by his original decision. Dave Morgan coolly walked up and scored from the flick to give Blackpool a 1-0 lead.
Dodd, to his team’s discredit, made the mistake of calling Blackpool’s defence rubbish, which not only is far from the truth (see the league’s goals against) but fired up the whole defence to keep a clean sheet and not allow this mouthy player a sniff at goal. The defending at times was heroic with every man making important tackles and putting their bodies on the line.
The second half carried on the same way with Winnington having more possession and attacking threat but Blackpool happy to absorb the pressure and counter attack. One of these led to a great run by Dave Morgan who whipped the ball across the D at pace for his striking partner Steve Whitley to deflect into the goal with great skill. A really classy goal which lifted Blackpool’s morale.
Rain had been coming down all match but it went torrential and we all got soaked. However this just created the atmosphere of Rourke’s Drift with the Blackpool defence not giving in and intent on keeping a clean sheet. Pete Latimer man marked Mike Dodd, and did not allow him to go far with his dribbling and disrupted his reverse strikes so much that the player became very frustrated. His continual appeals to the umpire made no difference, and although he was able to win a few short corners, his team was not able to take advantage of them. Great running out and shot blocking by Rob Abbott was one factor but poor execution of their routines was another.
Blackpool were weathering a great storm of pressure but felt under control. Disaster was to strike when Mike Dodd decided to fall over in the D and a penalty stroke was awarded, which even some of Winnington’s players thought was unfair. However the pressure of the occasion and perhaps the gods of fair play intervened and Dodd struck the ball wide of the posts.
Blackpool were then able to hold on to their two goal advantage for the remaining minutes and earned a well deserved win, although it was a real battle and the return match is undoubtedly going to be tough. This result means Blackpool are only 4pts from the top but bizarrely in this most competitive of divisions also only 4pts from the bottom.
Opposition Man of the Match – Rob Abbott. Players Vote 1st Pete Latimer (22) 2nd Dec O’Hara (11) 3rd Dave Morgan (10)