Blackpool Men’s firsts returned to winning ways with a comfortable 4-1 victory over Rhyl at Stanley Park.
With a host of midfield options missing for Blackpool, Nick Rainbow shuffled his squad around, including pushing Dec O’Hara up into midfield to cover for the absent Simon Thomas. The new look side started sluggishly with a number of mis-directed passes, and all too often resorting to the crash ball up to the forwards. Rhyl picked up right where they left off in the last clash between the two sides with a number of crunching challenges letting their hosts know they wouldn’t be an in for an easy afternoon. As the minutes ticked by, Blackpool began to find some fluency to their game and gaps began to appear in the visitors defence. One bad tackle too many saw Rhyl reduced to ten men as Blackpool piled on the pressure. The breakthrough finally came in a very ‘un-Blackpool’ way as Rob Dingle’s powerful ball was deflected goal bound by Dave Morgan on a leading run. The goalkeeper managed to get a touch, but it wasn’t enough to prevent the ball spinning over the line to give Blackpool a well-deserved lead.
Blackpool continued to assert their dominance in the second half as a tiring Rhyl side were stretched across the park. A well worked move down the right involving Jay Currey and Steve Whitley eventually found Jordan Payne in acres of space at the top of the Rhyl area. His first time strike proved too much for the outstretched goalkeeper, and Blackpool doubled their lead. With Dingle switching over to the left, he found himself in a mirror position to the first goal. His ball again found the stick of Morgan, but this time the deflected effort flew past the wrong side of the post. Rhyl forced a couple of penalty corners and were close to a break through if not for a last ditch tackle from Sam Robinson, but apart from that it was all one-way traffic as Blackpool pushed on to try and increase their lead. Ian Swaine’s reverse stick effort had the keeper beat, but was dragged wide, and Currey’s shot from a tight angle was also well saved. The game was finally put to bed when Sam Bury ran half the length of the pitch beating several players but his initial shot was straight at the goalkeeper. Swaine’s leading run had dragged two defenders away from goal, and the re-bound fell straight back to Bury to finish what he started with a simple tap home. With ten minutes to go, Morgan and Dingle combined again with the striker opting to control the ball rather than deflect this time. With the keeper premediating another first touch attempt, he set himself too deep from Morgan who stopped the ball neatly and slotted home against the flat footed goalie, also securing himself the Man of the Match award.
Some complacency crept in during the closing minutes and Blackpool conceded a late deflected goal with 30 seconds remaining, but apart from that slight hiccup it was a well-earned three points.