Striker Paul Hargreaves scored twice in the first half to set Blackpool Rangers Under-18s on the way to the next round of the Hogan Cup with a 3-0 win over Foxhall Juniors.
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Hargreaves’ second goal, barely 30 seconds before half-time, was critical in giving his side breathing space to play controlled possession football in the second half, adding a third goal through Jordan Caine.
Foxhall competed well but couldn’t take their chances, denied on several occasions by fine goalkeeping by Rangers’ Jack Clarke.
The early exchanges were tight but it was Rangers who made the breakthrough after around 20 minutes, Hargreaves converting Caine’s cross after a slick passing move.
Tom Amos provided the telling pass for Hargreaves’ second on the stroke of half-time.
And although Foxhall keeper Ellis Sutherland saved the striker’s initial effort, Hargreaves held his nerve to convert the rebound.
Foxhall knew one goal would bring them right back into the contest after the break, but Rangers keeper Clarke was in outstanding form to keep them at bay with some fine saves.
And victory was sealed with 20 minutes remaining, when Caine raced through for the third goal on the break following Kyran Jones’ precise pass.
Manager Charles Peill was delighted with his Rangers side’s tidy and accurate passing display after the weather had restricted them to very few games of late.
He said: “It was a very good, close game, which ended in a comfortable win and we passed the ball around nicely.
“We’ve got a backlog of games and we’ll probably have to play some in midweek.
“The players like that because it’s good to have a lot of games as the weather improves.
“It’s been a stop-start season but now we hope to have a good run in the cup and to finish as high as possible in the league.”
Foxhall also have a busy run-in to look forward to and manager Austin Burrows welcomes the challenge of staying in the upper reaches of the league.
He said: “After starting slowly, we were the better side for parts of the game but didn’t take our chances. We have to improve our finishing.
“We’ll have to beat some of the teams around us to stay second or third and I’ll be pleased if we can do that.”
Both managers shared their man of the match award between two players.
Robert Flanagan and Aidan Burrows were the Foxhall choices. Aidan was strong in a holding role, while Robert was his side’s most creative player.
For Rangers, keeper Clarke’s string of saves in the second half was vital and earned him a share of the award with captain Eddie Peill, gave a non-stop display in midfield and tackled strongly.