It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, we had both Hughes twins picked for the 3rd team match against Preston 6’s.
Despite outward appearances you can’t leave the 17 year old Hughes twins together in the same place, they’ll fight, scream and tear each other apart. They’ve both been promising hockey players growing up, and boy have they grown with both over 6 foot tall and Alex reaching an impressive 6’6″. To keep them apart whilst they played in the same team we used to have to pad Alex up and put him in goal but this proved to be too expensive in continually upgrading the junior goalkeepers kit, and eventually he was actually too tall to be goalkeeper as he kept hitting his head on the crossbar.
So this year’s solution was to play Josh in the 2nd’s and Alex in the 3rd’s. Alex missed the first few games, no one knows why, could have been growth pains, but his return into the centre of defence pairing up with the old man and his dodgy knees has resulted in two consecutive clean sheets. Meanwhile Josh has also been playing centre back for the inconsistent 2nd team.
So what to do when Josh was surplus to requirements to the 2nd’s this week? Perhaps he’s the older twin and got first dibs at partnering the veteran Latimer in defence, meaning Alex had to be played out of position. He couldn’t play in goal as Popey’s enjoying his 70 mins of sitting between the goalposts each week behind his solid back line, so instead he was put out on the wing, well away from his twin brother.
Onto the actual game, with a frustrating first half for Blackpool as they had the bulk of the possession but struggled to get a decent shot away, and in fact it was Preston who managed to win the first short corner although that came to nothing. Alex Diver’s shooting was a little off target, so much so at one point the ball went over the high fencing and we had to wait for a dog-walker to throw it back.
However the first goal did come for Blackpool after some pinball style shooting and saving, reminiscent of the last 1st team goal half an hour previously, and then James Smith’s attempt actually fooling the keeper by crossing the face of goal leaving young Oli McVicor to dive headlong and sneak the ball into the goal.
After agreeing at half-time that it had been “a bit scrappy”, Blackpool had the perfect start to the second half by scoring straight from the restart. Matt Atherton had dribbled through the middle, passed to Diver to shoot only to see it saved and rebound to the side. However Alex Hughes, who remember was out on the wing, had galloped the length of the half and happened upon the rebound and deflected it for a memorable goal.
The floodgates had opened, and Blackpool now bossed the half with multiple attacks. Alex thought he’d scored a second when his shot hit the back-boards only for the umpire to call back play as he’d already blow the whistle but forgotten to play advantage. No matter as his namesake (forename not surname) scored the next when Atherton who was controlling the midfield played into Diver who has a lethal shot at they top of the D to make it a three goal advantage.
Blackpool’s 4th came from a nicely worked short corner with Smith feeding into Oli Tomlinson, who returned it back, for Smith to score from the tightest angle you’ve ever seen. It would be amazing as a well-drilled practiced routine but we’re far too amateur to actually do these things on purpose. So Rochdale don’t go thinking we’ll try this one again as we won’t!
Meanwhile the Blackpool defence of Stan Morrison, Pete Latimer, Josh Hughes, Phil Weir and Will Turnball rotated but every combination was secure in leaving Stephen Pope a minimal of work as goalkeeper, and a third clean sheet in a row was our reward. Of course good defence can lead to a counter attack, and so it proved when Latimer intercepted a Preston attacking play, distributed to Tomlinson on the half-way line, who proceeded to beat several Preston players and lay off the ball to Alex Hughes in the D who made no mistake with his strike and second goal of the game.
With thoughts of what could have been a hat-trick jug (of lemonade not beer since Alex is still only 17) with the disallowed goal, Alex wasn’t going to waste the opportunity of playing so high in the attack and targeted a third goal. He had an opportunity when one on one with Dave Belshaw in the Preston goal, and had the right idea with trying to lob him. Unfortunately instead of a lob he jabbed the ball instead, but luckily somehow this eluded Belshaw and dribbled over the line for the goal he wanted so badly.
Final score 6-0 and a very pleased Blackpool side, and two happy Hughes twins. Alex for a hat-trick and Josh for a clean sheet and the honour of partnering Latimer all game.
(c) Peter Latimer 16/11/14, friend of the Hughes twins and match reporter supremo, [please note that there are likely to be some fictional aspects of this report]