AFC’s winning formula

Action from AFC Blackpool (orange and white) v Abbey Hey.'Captain Matthew Muscroft plays a cheeky sidefoot in Abbey Hey's penalty area. PIC BY ROB LOCK'12-4-2011
Action from AFC Blackpool (orange and white) v Abbey Hey.'Captain Matthew Muscroft plays a cheeky sidefoot in Abbey Hey's penalty area. PIC BY ROB LOCK'12-4-2011

AFC Blackpool 1, Abbey Hey 0

IT has been a season packed with impressive and memorable wins by AFC Blackpool. This wasn’t one of them but last night’s three points were no less important or satisfying for manager Stuart Parker.

“It’s all about winning now,” said Parker. “We were scrappy and a bit nervous but it just took one piece of magic from Ben Waddington to seal it.”

A little weariness and lethargy are entirely understandable. Parker’s side have to squeeze 18 matches into the final two months of the campaign. This was the 14th of them and the 13th victory.

Saturday’s win at Norton secured promotion to the top tier of the Vodkat League. What remains is to hold off the challenge of Runcorn Town to clinch the first division title.

A determined and battling Abbey Hey side were able to match a Blackpool team below their best to produce a first-half stalemate.

There was little more by way of goalmouth incidents in the second half until Waddington picked the ball up 25 yards out and drove low and hard into the net in the 70th minute – the striker’s 26th goal of the season. Abbey Hey had plenty of possession but couldn’t muster much of a response. They managed a few crosses from dangerous positions but AFC keeper Andy Speight had a largely untroubled night.

Blackpool remain six points ahead of Runcorn, who secured the other promotion place last night with a 2-0 win over Chadderton.

“We need seven points from our final four games,” spelled out Parker – but they will only require so many if Runcorn win all their four and they face an even more hectic schedule than AFC.

With an outstanding League Cup tie to negotiate against Atherton LR on Saturday, Runcorn have five to play by Saturday week, starting with tomorrow’s testing trip to Norton.

Parker’s side, who next visit second-bottom Oldham Borough on Saturday, just need to carry on winning a little longer, scrappily or not.

Blackpool: Speight, Dell, Fawcett, Ford, Carroll, Baird, Ashall, Muscroft, Stayte, Waddington, Cummins; subs; Brown, Rothwell, Betteridge.