Blackpool Mens’ first team took a huge step towards securing promotion to North West Division 1 with an emphatic 7-0 win over second placed South Cheshire Men’s firsts at Stanley Park.
With Steve Whitely unavailable due to a broken thumb sustained in the cup semi-final against Rochdale last weekend, and Rob Dingle recovering from illness, Blackpool predicted a tough encounter against the only side Blackpool hadn’t recorded a win over in the campaign. The opening fifteen minutes were dogged with scrappy hockey played by both sides; perhaps sensing the significance of the clash. Jay Currey showed his versatility with an impressive showing in an unfamiliar right back role making several crucial challenges as Cheshire looked to break away. Whitely also acting in an unfamiliar role as ‘Team Manager’ instructed the sneezing Dingle to come off the bench with immediate impact. Dingle’s first touch was a firm strike into the Cheshire area, picking out Josh Payne at the back post. He slipped the ball back inside to Ian Swaine who put the ball past the goalkeeper with a reverse stick shot. Blackpool thought they were two up when Dave Morgan swept the ball into the net at a short corner, but the umpire ruled it out due to being lifted as a first strike. Morgan wasn’t to be denied long as on the stroke of half time he bagged his 299th first team goal for the club (in all competitions and friendlies) as he flicked the ball home at a penalty corner from Rob Abbott’s lay off.
At 2-0 the game was heavily in favour of the home side, but both teams knew the next goal would be crucial in the outcome of the match. Blackpool were in no mood to let their opponents back into the match, as they hammered home their advantage with three Josh Payne goals in ten minutes to kill off any chance of a Cheshire revival. Dingle tried to repeat his cross that led to the opening goal, but instead topped the ball towards Swaine at the near post. A clever touch by Swaine dinked the bouncing ball over a defender’s stick, giving Swaine the chance to turn towards goal. He unselfishly squared for Josh Payne who slotted home into the bottom left corner. Payne doubled his tally with another cool finish, this time in the other corner after Morgan and Simon Thomas linked up well. Payne completed his rapid hat trick when Josh Boyne picked out Morgan’s run into the area, who once again became Payne’s provider. 3 wasn’t enough for Payne has tapped home his fourth much to the delight of the home crowd. There was just enough time for Swaine to make it seven, as Blackpool now look to Knutsford in the start of a tricky run in, hopefully towards promotion.