Blackpool 2, Hibernian 0

Hibs keeper Mark Brown makes a brave stop from Kevin Phillips

Hibs keeper Mark Brown makes a brave stop from Kevin Phillips

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Kevin Phillips, who remarkably celebrated his 38th birthday on Monday, showed just why Sunderland fans rate him as one of their greatest ever players with a classy display.

After two frustrating halves against Rangers and Oldham, the striker dropped much deeper and in doing so stood out a mile.

Billy Clarke lines up his goal

Billy Clarke lines up his goal

Holloway picked what won’t be far from his strongest XI and it showed as the Seasiders dominated the opening stages.

Phillips seemed to be at the heart of everything and had Pool’s three best chances, the pick of them a move which involved Ian Evatt and ended with the striker firing just over.

But the Seasiders deadlock-breaker on 33 minutes came from an unlikely source.

Midfielder Elliot Grandin, who only scored once in 24 appearances last season, acrobatically met a Stephen Crainey cross on the volley and gave Mark Brown no chance in the Hibs goal.

Blackpool looked a totally different side to the one that lost at Boundary Park – the passing was better and the tempo much higher.

Unlike at Oldham, Pool made no changes at the break as they eased their senior players into longer spells on the pitch.

Pool eventually made changes on 70 minutes, when Billy Clarke, Ludo Sylvestre and new signing Craig Sutherland were introduced.

The latter had only finalised a two-year deal at the club an hour and a half before kick-off.

He looked lively and probably should have scored.

With ten minutes to go, Billy Clarke crossed superbly into the path of Sutherland, who headed just wide from six yards.

The roles were reversed moments later, when the new-boy flicked the ball into the path of Clarke, who took a touch and finished well from ten yards.

It was Clarke’s second goal in two games and he’s showing signs that he could be a real asset this season.

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