Blackpool Men’s first team got off to the perfect start in North West Division 1 with a 4-2 win away to Urmston firsts.
After a shambolic arrival due to a combination of congestion on the M60, incorrectly used satnavs and delays in other fixtures players were umpiring in, the match eventually got underway with Blackpool a man shy. While Steve Whitley quickly sorted out his equipment on the sidelines, the home side dominated play with Blackpool struggling to get out of their own half. Even with a full complement of players a few minutes later, the visitors couldn’t string any passes together (maybe it was the new kit?) and after considerable pressure Urmston took the lead within the opening ten minutes.
Less than a wake up call; more of a gentle nudge, Blackpool began to slowly wake from their slumber and realised they weren’t still enjoying their summer break in European capitals. Jay Currey led the fight back with a number of driving runs down the right flank, but struggled to make it past the resolute Urmston defensive line. Dave Morgan also began to find his touch drawing in a number of defenders, but without finding the killer final ball. Eventually the two combined, but before Currey could pull the trigger he was floored by the advancing goalkeeper and a penalty stroke awarded. Rob Dingle made no mistake to draw his side back level with their first shot at goal. Urmston continued to threaten at the other end, continuously toying with the Blackpool defenders with some slick stick skills. Two penalty corners came and went for the home side as well as a disputed decision not to award a penalty stroke, but it was Blackpool who came closest when Dingle’s drive forward played in Whitley, however his effort on the stretch beat the goalkeeper but went inches wide of the post.
Blackpool’s task rapidly became more difficult when Sam Robinson lost his footing, causing him to injure his knee and hobble off. Without a substitute, it was backs to the wall for the away side as Urmston pressed ahead against the ten men. Paul Atherton and Rob Abbott made a number of late clearances at the back, but just as Robinson was looking ready to come back on, Urmston won a third penalty corner and this time converted on the breakdown with a thunderous shot past Nick Rainbow into the top corner.
At half time, Blackpool changed tactics looking to employ Robinson in a higher position, partly to protect his injury! Within minutes of the restart the switch paid off as Dec O’Hara’s long ball through to Robinson split the Urmston defence in two, and after a well-timed pass to Morgan, the latter brought Blackpool level for the second time in the match. Urmston struggled to find the same rhythm they had enjoyed in the first period, and Blackpool were all too willing to capitalise. Whitley’s quick thinking down the left earned his side their first penalty corner of the match and from here Dan Woodman and Morgan combined to see the visitors take the lead for the first time. It could have been four moments later when another fluid move up front saw Currey with an open goal to aim for, but he failed to get enough angle on his shot and it crashed into the sideboards.
Urmston fought hard to get an equaliser, but squandered several shooting opportunities having done all the hard work. As frustrations began to get the better of them, Blackpool landed the killer blow with a little over ten minutes to go when Robinson, having a second half to remember, netted his first competitive goal for Blackpool firsts. The final minutes were cagey as Blackpool slowly wore the clock down, but kept their never for a well-earned three points.