BLACKPOOL men’s first team are top of Kukri North West Hockey League Division Four after a 2-1 win over Keswick West Cumbria.
They started sluggishly and the first half was dominated by poor passing and marking, which helped Keswick have most of the pressure.
However, at half-time the score remained 0-0.
The nearest Blackpool came to breaking the deadlock was from a Kieran Harris flick, which the keeper deflected over the bar.
In the second half, Blackpool created some chances and short corners, and it was from one of these that they opened the scoring.
A switch from Rob Abbott allowed David Morgan to find the bottom right corner of the net.
Blackpool enjoyed a period of pressure, which led to the second goal from another short corner.
This time, Ian Swaine beat the keeper to find the backboard.
Keswick increased the pressure with some fine passing play, putting the Blackpool midfield and defence under intense pressure, and resulting in some fine saves from Nick Rainbow.
They finally scored from a short corner, the ball creeping under the diving Rainbow.
Blackpool endured a nervy final few minutes, but still looked dangerous on the break.
Blackpool held out to go top of the league and look forward to the game at Southport next Saturday.
In Division Eight, third-placed Blackpool seconds hosted second-placed Keswick, knowing only a win would keep their promotion hopes alive – they duly won 3-2.
Keswick took an early lead, but Blackpool replied as Simon Allen smashed in a short corner.
David Wright put Blackpool into the lead with an easy finish as he followed up a shot from a short corner.
However, Keswick levelled the scores early in the second half.
This shook Blackpool, who had to rely on what can only be described as unorthodox defending and some fine saves from Graeme Kilshaw to keep themselves in the game.
Blackpool finally got the break they needed, as some persistent work from Paul Atherton paid off and Nathan Woodman had an easy chance to slot home and net the clincher.
Blackpool thirds took on the task of playing two league matches on the same day.
They started at 11am in Manchester and finished with a 3pm start at home, and managed a win and a loss.
Their first match against Didbsury was a tense affair, with man of the match Josh Payne impressing, and it was only settled in the final minute when an Alex Rowe pass found Alex Diver in the D to finish off for a 1-0 win.
After a quick dash along the M61, the team were back in action against South Manchester. The visitors scored first, but Blackpool took the lead after goals from Martin Owers and Alex Diver.
Understandably, tiredness finally set in when Manchester scored three times in the last 15 minutes to seal the win 4-2.
Blackpool Ladies firsts lost 5-1 against title aspirants Morecambe.
Both teams played the game at a rapid pace right from the start, and created lots of chance between them, but it was Morecambe who opened the scoring with a strike from a short corner and then increased their lead after 20 minutes with an excellently taken goal.
After the break, Blackpool came back into the game, and scored with a reverse-stick goal from Anna Clancy.
Blackpool continued to put pressure on the Morecambe goal, but some good defensive work and excellent saves from the goalkeeper prevented Blackpool from equalising.
Despite a spirited performance from Blackpool, Morecambe made their strength and experience count late in the game and scored four without reply.
Blackpool Ladies’ thirds gave a creditable performance, although being beaten 2-0 by Clitheroe thirds.
The Blackpool defence of Becky Vale, Chloe Mallinson and Nicky Dresser played an excellent close marking game, which kept the score goalless at half-time.
Clitheroe started the scoring with a scramble after a saved penalty corner, and it looked like the Blackpool attack, led by Lynsey Shewing, might salvage a draw, but chances were missed and Clitheroe managed a second from a fast break.