Blackpool Men’s Second team went into their game with Leyland & Chorley firsts knowing they could potentially secure second place if results went their way. This however was no small task as their visitors had been undefeated in the last two seasons and could secure the division title themselves with a win at Stanley Park.
Blackpool, boasting a strong squad including the return of the Payne Brothers after their impressive displays in the first team a week earlier, started strongly and pushed high into the Leyland half. As they began to dominate possession, the home side forced a series of penalty corners bringing the opening goal of the match. A close range shot was well saved by the Leyland goalkeeper, but the predatory Martin Hayes was on hand to poke the ball through a sea of bodies and into the net. Blackpool continued to create chances and were handed a golden opportunity to double their lead when Sharp was brought down in the Leyland area and the umpire signalled for a penalty flick. For the second week in succession, captain Sharp stepped up and made no mistake with a powerful finish into the side netting. With half time fast approaching Leyland looked to get back into the game and won two penalty corners in quick succession however the Blackpool defence remained strong and a superb goal line clearance from Dave Latimer ensured Blackpool went into the break with their two goal lead intact.
With their undefeated streak under threat, Leyland began the second half strongly and were soon back in the game after a god passing move finally breached the Blackpool defence. After last week’s shocking second half collapse, Blackpool were determined not to let this happen again, and utilised their substitutions well to constantly have fresh legs on the wings which enabled them to pin the Leyland back four deep in their own half. This tactic soon paid off as a great ball from the wing aimed towards Josh Boyne deflected off of a Leyland stick and into their goal to give Blackpool a 3-1 lead. The importance of the fixture was starting to show and both teams began to lose their cool as a series of yellow cards saw players sent to the side lines. Blackpool held their shape well to ensure they ran out 3-1 winners and in doing so became the first team to beat Leyland in a league game for two seasons.
When the news filtered through that third placed Kirkby Lonsdale had lost, second place in the division was confirmed, and importantly PROMOTION to Division 4 next season!