Blackpool travelled to bottom side Southport expecting a straight forward victory but were shocked to come away with just a draw, albeit in controversial circumstances.
Southport showed that despite a higher average age they still had considerable skill, many having played at higher levels and even rumours of an ex-England player. Their lone striker won one of his first one-on-one’s against centre back Pete Latimer and struck an early surprise lead.
Blackpool fought back but struggled to find a decent hit on goal, and eventually had to rely on a short corner routine to score the equalizer with Dan Woodman feeding Dave Morgan.
Early in the second half, Latimer was again beaten by his man who clinically finished scooping the ball over the advancing keeper Nick Rainbow.
Shocked into action once again, Blackpool camped in the Southport half and had numerous chances in front of goal, including a shot which hit a defender’s arm on the goal-line which was only given as a long corner instead of a penalty flick. However the pressure finally told when the ball was spread wide to Dan Woodman on the right who fed the winger James Slater, who dribbled the ball up to the back line and neatly fed it back in front of goal for Steve Whitley to finish off. A minute later Blackpool finally took the lead when Mike Thom finished sweetly firing the ball into the goal net, after an initial save by the Southport goalie.
At this point it felt like Blackpool couldn’t lose, but once again Southport fed their lone striker who was fouled in the Blackpool D. A short corner was expected but instead a penalty flick was awarded, to the amazement of all the players. Luckily, or was it karma, the flick was pushed wide. However Southport were awarded a short corner towards the end of the game and they managed to slip the ball to the left and flick it past the advancing defender and goalkeeper.
With Blackpool knowing that a draw was going to threaten their championship hopes, they attacked with urgency, and were soon awarded a short corner. Kieran Harris tried one of his trademark drag flicks which hit a defender in front of goal. The team expected another short corner, but instead to the horror of Blackpool the umpire declared it dangerous and gave the ball to Southport.
There was no time left to play, so Blackpool left the field angry and frustrated, and in fact there were some ugly and regretable scenes.
Blackpool now need to win their return match away at Lymm, as well as keeping up the goal difference advantage, and then follow up with two wins against the tricky looking Carlisle in the final 2 weeks. But we’re up for it!
© Peter Latimer 6/2/11