Blackpool 2-0 Swindon Town: CJ Hamilton double gives Seasiders first league win in front of 1,000 fans inside Bloomfield Road
A superb CJ Hamilton double capped off a winning return to Bloomfield Road for 1,000 Blackpool fans against League One newcomers Swindon Town.
The former Mansfield Town man scored the first competitive goals of the season to help Neil Critchley pick up his first three points as Pool boss.
The two strikes, both powerful efforts that beat the goalkeeper at his near post, came either side of the half-time whistle in a deserved first league win of the campaign for the Seasiders.
The hard-earned victory in Blackpool’s first home league game since March was the perfect tonic for the returning fans, who set foot back inside Bloomfield Road as part of an EFL pilot event.
Critchley made one change to the side that lost narrowly at Plymouth Argyle last week, replacing Sullay Kaikai with Bez Lubala.
Kaikai was missing from the squad altogether along with Alex Fojticek, Teddy Howe, Cameron Antwi and James Husband, who remains sidelined with a hamstring injury.
Keshi Anderson and Jerry Yates were handed starts against the side they helped to the League Two title last season.
Swindon, managed by ex-Seasider Richie Wellens, made one change to the side that won 3-1 against Rochdale on the opening day.
It was the visitors who settled the quicker, knocking it around nicely and looking comfortable in possession.
There were plenty of smiles among the 1,000 Pool fans inside the ground when Anthony Grant, linked with Blackpool earlier this summer, was given a talking-to by referee Andy Haines after giving former teammate Keshi Anderson a playful shove.
Wellens’ men continued their fast start, coming inches away from taking the lead as Jonny Smith curled an effort just wide of Chris Maxwell’s far post.
Blackpool slowly but surely began to grow into the game, creating their first opening thanks to CJ Hamilton’s industry down the right.
As we’ve seen so often this season already, the winger beat his man for pace only to see his pullback intercepted at the vital moment with Ethan Robson ready to pounce behind him.
Swindon were intent on playing the ball out from the back, something that got them into trouble on a couple of occasions in the first half.
One such occasion saw Lubala presented with a good shooting opportunity just 18 yards from goal, only to squander the chance by shooting straight at Matty Kovar.
Swindon gave Pool another warning just after the half-hour mark that they very much remained a threat as striker Tyler Smith nodded a header just wide at the back post.
At the other end, former Swindon men Anderson and Yates combined well to create an opening for the latter, who rifled a shot over the bar after shifting the ball back onto his right foot.
With four minutes remaining until half-time, Blackpool’s pressure finally told as they made the breakthrough through Hamilton.
The winger made the most of his rapid speed as he shifted the ball onto his right foot before beating Kovar at his near post with a powerful drilled effort.
The goal saw Bloomfield Road erupt as the returning Seasiders celebrated Blackpool’s first competitive goal in almost six hours of action.
Critchley’s side ought to have added a second in first-half stoppage time, but Michael Nottingham could only head over, with the help of his shoulder, after being left unmarked from Hamilton’s inswinging cross.
Thankfully the Seasiders only had to wait two minutes of the second half to find that second and it was that man Hamilton once again.
The winger chased down what looked to be a lost cause, keeping the ball alive by the byline before cutting inside Rob Hunt and beating Kovar at his near post once again with a powerful drive.
One must feel a tinge of sympathy for Hunt, who was given a torrid time all afternoon by Blackpool’s summer recruit.
The Seasiders maintained control of the game, allowing Swindon to enjoy more of the ball while keeping them at arm’s length for the majority of the time.
Pool were, however, given a major scare on 72 minutes when substitute Hallam Hope hit the inside of the post with a curling effort that beat Maxwell all ends up.
Demetri Mitchell nearly capped off an outstanding display at left-back with a goal on 77 minutes to complete a flowing move, only to be denied by a strong save from Kovar.
The Seasiders wasted another good chance to put the game to bed for once and for all when they wasted a four-on-one situation, Kovar eventually saving from Ethan Robson after Gary Madine - on for Yates - saw his pullback blocked by the recovering defender.
Pool ended the game really strongly, managing the game superbly while tearing Swindon to shreds on the break.
Their performance deserved a third and they almost got it three minutes from time when Robson thundered a first-time volley against the crossbar.
Nevertheless, it wasn’t to matter as Blackpool held on for a clean sheet and the win to get their league campaign up and running.
Blackpool: Maxwell, Turton, Ekpiteta, Nottingham, Mitchell, Robson, Ward, Anderson (Williams), Hamilton, Lubala (Kemp), Yates (Madine)
Subs not used: Sims, Thorniley, Shaw, Sarkic
Swindon: Kovar, Caddis, Baudry, Hunt, Grant, M. Smith, Fryers, J. Smith (J. Grant), Payne (Hope), Jaiyesimi, T. Smith (Pitman)
Subs not used: Fryer, Grounds, Curran, Palmer
Referee: Andy Haines
Attendance: 1,000 (official figure not yet given)