Top pitch gives AFC the Edge

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AFC Blackpool 2 - Leek CSOB 1. COMMON Edge staged the only match in the Vodkat League on Saturday, with every other venue waterlogged, and Blackpool took full advantage to pull nine points clear at the top of the first division.

But this tenth successive league win was among their hardest-earned as struggling Leek put their high-flying hosts under pressure in the second half.

And manager Stuart Parker felt his side let their standards slip after comfortably leading 2-0 at half-time.

“After starting well we seemed to run out of steam and endeavour, and Leek dominated the last half-hour,” he said. “Thankfully our back four and keeper were superb.”

Parker was full of praise for his side’s two 25-yard goals, both of which flew into the top corner.

The first came on 25 minutes from skipper Matt Muscroft, who embarked on a jinking run after collecting Mark Beattie’s inside ball and fired home powerfully.

Defender Paul Carroll then produced a striker’s finish 12 minutes later from Martin Baird’s lay-off.

Blackpool also had two efforts cleared off the line but seemed in control until third-bottom Leek’s unexpected revival.

Samuel Pettitt chipped home a cross to bring them back into the contest on 57 minutes, though Blackpool were convinced the ball was well out of play before it was delivered into the box.

Keeper Andy Speight was booked for his protests but quickly regained his composure to make some solid saves as the visitors bossed the final half-hour.

“We probably deserved to win but we did lose our way and there are things we have to improve on,” added Parker, whose side meets closest rivals Chadderton and AFC Liverpool in the coming weeks, after Saturday’s trip to Wigan Robin Park.

“The next few weeks will determine where we are at,” said the manager, “and the first aim is to get everyone fit.”

Welcome news on that front was that striker Marc Ashall came off the bench for his first appearance in five months after a knee injury.

Blackpool: Speight, MacEvoy, Baker, Ford, Carroll, Baird, Fawcett, Muscroft, Walker, Beattie, Waddington; subs: McGough, Stayte, Ashall, Cummins