Blackpool 3-0 Middlesbrough: Josh Bowler and Shayne Lavery star as Seasiders book their spot in the next round of the Carabao Cup in style

Josh Bowler and Shayne Lavery starred as Blackpool claimed their first win of the season in style against Championship rivals Middlesbrough.

Wednesday, 11th August 2021, 9:38 pm
Updated Wednesday, 11th August 2021, 9:42 pm

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The Seasiders eased into the second round of the Carabao Cup with a richly deserved 3-0 win against Neil Warnock’s men.

Pool were scintillating from start to finish, playing some excellent football as they built on their opening day 1-1 draw at Bristol City.

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Callum Connolly got them off and running with a first-half strike, his first for the club, before Lavery and Keshi Anderson added the finishing touches in the second-half.

Neil Critchley’s men were roared on by a boisterous home crowd as Bloomfield Road reopened to full capacity with no restrictions for the first time in 17 months.

Pool will now discover their second round opponents shortly, with the draw taking place after the televised tie between Leyton Orient and QPR, which is being aired on Sky Sports.

Critchley suggested before the game he would look to make changes and use his squad following Saturday’s league opener at Bristol City.

The Seasiders celebrate Callum Connolly's first-half opener

Pool’s head coach stuck to his word, making seven alterations in total from the 1-1 draw at Ashton Gate.

The biggest boost was the return of last season’s Wembley hero Kenny Dougall, who earned his first minutes of the new campaign on his return from a knock he suffered in pre-season.

Neil Critchley rewarded Josh Bowler and Shayne Lavery with starts following their impact off the bench at the weekend - the duo making their first starts in tangerine.

Elsewhere, Pool’s head coach handed debuts to Daniel Grimshaw, Oliver Casey and Sonny Carey.

Richard Keogh, Luke Garbutt, Grant Ward, Keshi Anderson, Tyreece John-Jules and Jerry Yates all dropped down to the bench, while Chris Maxwell was rested completely.

Daniel Gretarsson (shoulder), Matty Virtue (ACL), Kevin Stewart (ankle), Demetri Mitchell (knee) and Gary Madine (groin) all remain sidelined by injury.

Teddy Howe, Oliver Sarkic, Bez Lubala and Joe Nuttall continue to be left out.

Middlesbrough, who opened their league campaign with a 1-1 draw away at Fulham, also made a number of changes - nine in total - giving debuts to Sol Bamba, Lee Peltier and Martin Payero.

Former Pool loanee Joe Lumley started in goal for the Teesside outfit, while another former player in Uche Ikpeazu was named among the substitutes.

After Saturday’s heroics off the bench, Lavery set the tone right from the start, closing down the visitors twice in the opening 10 seconds.

The Northern Irishman also had the game first’s opening on four minutes, having a volley blocked behind for a corner after latching onto a chipped ball over the top.

Pool were inches away from edging their noses in front from the resulting corner, as Callum Connolly nodded Sonny Carey’s delivery back towards the danger area.

It reached Lavery inside the six-yard box, but the striker could only stretch and toe-poke an effort over the bar.

The Seasiders maintained their early pressure, Josh Bowler fizzing a powerful left-footed effort agonisingly wide of the far post from just inside the Middlesbrough box.

Boro couldn’t get to grips with Blackpool’s passing football early on, the Seasiders moving the ball from back to front with ease.

Bowler and Lavery were the two standsouts, but Dougall provided a calming influence on his return to the side while both Oliver Casey and Marvin Ekpiteta were happy to take the ball from Grimshaw and play out from the back.

Bowler continued to stand out, the winger cutting inside his man from the right before flashing an effort just wide of the upright.

Pool finally got the goal their dominant play deserved on the half-hour mark, coming through the unlikely source of right-back Callum Connolly.

It came after Lavery and Bowler had combined superbly once again, the former back heeling the ball into the path of Bowler who was wiped out after nipping the ball past his man on the edge of the 18-yard box.

Bowler’s low free-kick was blocked by the Boro wall, only serving to wrongfoot Lumley which allowed Connolly to lash home into the back of the empty net with a sweetly-struck volley.

The right-back still had plenty to do though, firing Pool into the lead with his first goal for the club.

Boro, who had barely threatened all half, had the chance to level when they were awarded a close-range free-kick of their own, but Payero could only fire narrowly over Grimshaw’s crossbar.

The Seasiders, meanwhile, continued to threaten with some wonderful, direct interplay, Bowler and Lavery still the main architects.

On the stroke of half-time, Bowler was allowed the time and space to waltz his way towards the Boro goal.

The winger momentarily got the ball stuck under his feet but he was still able to get a shot off at goal, but it was a weak one and Lumley was able to collect.

The ex-Everton man was unplayable at times, the wide man fizzing over in first-half injury-time after escaping a couple of challenges on the edge of the box.

Grant Ward came on for the Seasiders at the start of the second-half, replacing Dougall who had just returned from injury.

There was a poignant moment just five minutes into the second-half where Lavery, already a favourite among the Blackpool faithful, was given a deserved ovation from the North Stand after chasing down a lost cause.

Led by Bowler, the Seasiders enjoyed another strong spell of sustained pressure at the start of the second period.

Backed by the North Stand, who were trying to suck the ball into the Boro net, James Husband glanced a header narrowly wide from Sonny Carey’s corner before CJ Hamilton was denied by the legs of Lumley.

The one thing missing from Bowler’s sumptuous display was a goal, but he almost rectified that midway through the second-half when he side-footed just wide from a weak Boro clearance.

The visitors finally began to cause some problems for the Seasiders, helped by the introduction of Ikpeazu off the bench who gave the Seasiders a lot more to think about.

Critchley’s men were given a major let-off with 20 minutes left on the clock when Isiah Jones somehow skewed wide despite having the goal at his mercy.

Just as the game was beginning to open up with both sides having their moments, the Seasiders managed to find that second goal to put the game to bed.

Lavery was the man to get it, scoring his second goal in as many games in fine style.

The striker worked tirelessly to keep the ball alive after Sonny Carey’s corner had been partially cleared.

He did exactly that before firing past Lumley, who couldn’t keep his powerful effort out despite getting a strong hand to it.

Two instantly became three, as substitute Keshi Anderson flicked a cross - somewhat fortuitously - above Lumley and into the far corner, sending Bloomfield Road into raptures.

The North Stand gave Lavery a deserved standing ovation a few moments later when the Northern Irishman was given a breather and replaced by Jerry Yates.

The Seasiders had chances on the break to extend their lead further, but the damage had already been done as Critchley’s men cruised into the next round of the cup competition.

TEAMS

Blackpool: Grimshaw, Connolly, Ekpiteta, Casey, Husband, James, Dougall (Ward), Bowler, Carey, Hamilton (Anderson), Lavery (Yates)

Subs not used: Moore, Keogh, Garbutt, John-Jules

Middlesbrough: Lumley, Peltier, Bamba, Spence, Wood, Morsy (Sivi), Robinson, Malley, Payero (Hackney), Jones, Coburn (Ikpeazu)

Subs not used: Stojanovic, A. Dijksteel, Sykes, M. Dijksteel

Referee: Bobby Madley

Attendance: 5,836

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