AFC Blackpool finally hit the winning trail again with an all-round performance that was far too strong for fellow Hallmark Security League strugglers Eccleshall.
Blackpool’s long-awaited second win of the season in the first division – their first since August – lifted them four points above their second-bottom hosts and restored much needed morale.
Recent away games have seen AFC journey over 500 miles and their loyal band of travelling fans were rewarded for their visit to Staffordshire with the team’s best performance of the season.
With striker Jack Williams sidelined with a knee injury picked up in Tuesday’s defeat at Carlisle City, manager Stuart Parker was pleased to have Aaron Fleming available.
And with Stephen Betteridge and Kris Stephens on the left side, the team seemed to have a better balance than of late. They were quickly into their stride at Pershall Park, controlling the midfield and opening up the Eccleshall defence regularly.
Ben Duffield took advantage of a defensive misjudgement after 15 minutes and fired home from just inside the penalty area.
The chances kept coming, with Dean Ing, Fleming, Betteridge and Ryan Charnley all going close before the visitors doubled their lead four minutes before the interval. Betteridge’s through-ball sent Charnley clear and the wide man poked home to give AFC a cushion at half-time.
The second period followed the same pattern, with Marc Taylor and James Corbett strong in defence for AFC and rarely in any difficulty.
Fleming was causing havoc down the right and scored a fine goal on the hour.
Cutting inside on his left foot, he weaved past two defenders and found the bottom corner with a low drive. Either side of his goal, Fleming hit the same post twice, once with a trademark free-kick.
AFC emphasised the gulf between the sides on 75 minutes, when Stephen Higgins hammered home. This first win in 16 games will give AFC confidence for tomorrow’s Lancashire FA Trophy second-round tie at home to Evo-Stik League club Clitheroe.