Daisy Hill 0 AFC Blackpool 1: Winning start to year delights boss Baird

A free-kick threatens the goal at Daisy Hill
A free-kick threatens the goal at Daisy Hill

Blackpool started 2019 on a winning note as Ben Duffield’s early strike sealed victory in Westhoughton.

The AFC line-up has had a more settled look in recent weeks, with the back four unchanged and new midfield recruit Ryan McClean among the substitutes.

The visitors impressed from the off and Jake Webster’s cross from the left was converted by striker Duffield inside five minutes.

Blackpool controlled the rest of the first half as Jake Darnell stepped up from the back to build attacks.

They could have doubled their lead on the half-hour but keeper Joe Leather denied Duffield after a goalmouth scramble.

Blackpool continued to press for a second goal in the second half, when a cross from the left cannoned off the bar.

Leather was again alert to dney Conor Biship and substitute McClean also failed to convert when played in down the right.

Sensing they were still in the contest, second-bottom Daisy Hill began to attack themselves and it took a good save from Alex Cameron to keep out a free header.

AFC successfully played out the closing minutes to stay 14th in Hallmark Security League first division north after Martin Baird’s second win as manager.

He said: “Starting the year with three points is the what we asked for. Getting a clean sheet too is what every side wants to build their performances on.

“As a defensive unit we looked more organised and restricted Daisy Hill very well. And although there were a couple of mistakes, we are delighted overall and our goal was really well worked.

“We have often given up leads away from home but it shows that the players are learning and trusting each other. We know our play needs to be more ruthless, with an end product. We can and have to get better in order to achieve what we want to.”